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By Mark Pratt, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Allscripts Hospital and Health Systems

After more than a decade of rapid, intense transformation, healthcare organizations now know that there is immense value hidden within their data assets.

Unlocking that value, however, hasn’t always been easy. From the challenges of value-based care and consumerism to interoperability concerns and cybersecurity threats, many organizations have found it difficult to extract and share actionable insights that help improve the patient experience, reduce the overall cost of care and drive improved community wellness.

Fortunately, there is a solution for organizations still working to make the most of their health IT infrastructure. They can move their clinical data and analytics initiatives to the cloud.

The cloud isn’t exactly new. The consumer technology space has been making excellent use of cloud-based tools for everything from apps to email.  But there has been more skepticism in healthcare, where cultural inertia and the weight of responsibility around data stewardship can slow down innovation.

That reluctance is often misplaced. With the power of the cloud, healthcare organizations can start to take themselves out of the health IT business and focus more of their resources on delivering quality patient care. Here’s how.

Exceptional data security from seasoned healthcare veterans

Most healthcare organizations can only dream of having the cybersecurity and disaster recovery resources of a top-tier cloud data partner.

For example, Microsoft has spent more than 30 years working with healthcare organizations on storage and security. The company invests more than a billion dollars per year to thwart cyberattacks and prevent data breaches. Thousands of professionals monitor and respond to the latest threats around the clock, taking the pressure off healthcare organizations to develop and maintain their own on-site security initiatives.

Speedier upgrades for less downtime

As the volume of patient data continues to grow, healthcare organizations need a scalable, flexible health IT environment that doesn’t require lengthy downtime for upgrades.

In a traditional data center, it may take hours or days to implement new functions or patch existing systems, resulting in frustrated providers and disruptions to patient care. In contrast, the cloud is always on and ready to adapt to the latest needs.

Cloud-based tools enable technology partners like Allscripts to roll out cutting-edge improvements to customers quickly and smoothly without the unacceptable burdens of going offline for extended periods of time.

Scalability to create dynamic technology stacks

Expanding capacity in an onsite data center can be incredibly challenging. Even finding the physical space to put new servers can lead to months of planning and construction before an organization can spin up additional storage.

With the cloud, however, scalability is much simpler. Organizations can quickly and easily request more resources from their cloud data partner, yet they only have to pay for what they actually use. This eliminates the need to plan for every possible eventuality, leaving more time and money to invest in creative, data-driven initiatives that actively improve clinical care.

Analytics on demand to stay one step ahead of rising risks

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming essential tools for guiding clinical decisions, flagging patient risks, and informing business decisions. With cloud technologies, healthcare organizations can access sophisticated algorithms on demand, further reducing the need for in-house testing and development.

As predictive analytics, personalized medicine, and population health management become more integrated into routine care, providers will need reliable access to the latest tools to enhance the value of their data and outperform potential competitors.

Preparation for the future of data-driven healthcare

Consumers and providers alike have been very vocal about their frustration with the status quo of healthcare. In order to keep pace with accelerating demands for secure, interoperable, accessible data, healthcare organizations need to start doing something differently.

Cloud-based technologies are a major part of the solution. The cloud helps create a secure, reliable, and accessible data ecosystem that is ready for a digital-first future. With improved data fluidity, lower costs, and more flexible infrastructure, healthcare organizations can maximize their resources, engage in innovation, and deliver unmatched experiences to their providers and their patients.

About the Author

Mark Pratt, MD is Chief Medical Officer at Allscripts Hospital and Health Systems.