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The adoption of cloud in healthcare from a CIO's view

Many health IT experts have not only discredited the claim that using cloud in healthcare facilities could result in security concerns, but have also touted the many benefits of using the cloud. For example, the cloud is supposed to be less expensive and more efficient.

But Harun Rashid, vice president of Global Health Services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and CIO of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, said at the Healthcare Information and Management System Society's 2016 conference that may not necessarily be so.

"If you really look at the data, ... the cloud is not nearly as cheap as hosting it in house," Rashid says. "One of the reasons people were gravitating towards [the cloud] is they were thinking this is going to be much cheaper than having to invest a million dollars on the ground and so forth. And we're not so sure that has been proven to be the case."

Rashid also joins the many other health IT professionals who are wary of the adoption of cloud in healthcare when it comes to security, citing concerns about patient data as well as HIPAA compliance.

"We don't feel there is adequate security [right now] ... to be able to protect the data that we want," he says.

This doesn't mean healthcare CIOs, healthcare organizations and the industry in general haven't or won't venture into the cloud, he notes.

If you really look at the data, ... the cloud is not nearly as cheap as hosting it in house.
Harun RashidUPMC

In fact, UPMC has found a compromise of sorts by creating their own cloud.

"It's something we will continue to embrace," Rashid says. "It's just [that] we're going to be very cautious about it."

And adoption depends on the tolerance of the organization, he says, how comfortable that organization is with putting patient data in the cloud, especially given the many breaches that have been happening in healthcare lately. Rashid stresses that protecting patient data is incredibly important.

However, he does believe the adoption of cloud in healthcare will eventually happen in one form or another, but it will depend on what data healthcare organizations feel comfortable hosting in the cloud and what they do not.

"I think it will be a hybrid model," he says. "It's not going to be all or nothing."

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