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Healthcare CIO Must Accelerate The EMR To The Public Cloud


Healthcare providers are beginning to adopt the public cloud more actively. Forrester stated that 56% of surveyed organizations increased their cloud spending in the past year, despite macroeconomic uncertainty.


Adopting the public cloud appears promising, but historically, a significant hurdle has been that public cloud providers have struggled to integrate with Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems because they couldn't install the EMR in the public cloud environment.


The healthcare industry has also hesitated to adopt technology early on. Thus, in the initial stages, they used the public cloud primarily for disaster recovery and backup for the EMR. However, things have progressed, and now more healthcare provider organizations are beginning to move their production EMR systems to the cloud.


Mount Sinai Health System utilizes Microsoft Azure Large Instances, a solution designed to reach the scale required to operate an EMR system with the capability of 50 million database accesses per second. Sentara Healthcare also went to the cloud using Microsoft Azure for their production and disaster recovery instance.


Microsoft isn't the only public cloud provider that supports healthcare EMR systems. Tufts Medicine successfully deployed its production EMR system and forty other applications on the AWS cloud.


Here are the tips for CIOs to think about as they explore moving their applications to a public cloud provider.


Move The EMR First


The EMR represents one of the most significant investments for a health system or provider organization, and they should move it to the public cloud first. Mount Sinai and Tufts Medicine use the Epic EMR system, and Epic specifies how organizations must configure their systems. This rigor is helpful when transitioning to a public cloud provider. Jeremy Marut, Co-founder and CEO of sublimation health helped Tuft Medicine's transition to AWS, said "Epic is the least path of resistance to cloud because you can't do it multiple ways and can't really squeeze any hard value out of it other than the 30% cheaper than on-prem equipment."


Don't Sell The Soft ROI As The Main Selling Point


CIOs and technology leaders understand the importance of flexibility, agility, and the ability to scale up and down in a public cloud environment. However, they cannot sell these soft ROIs as the primary selling point. Jeremy also agrees and said, "The true value we see is in pushing the COTS vendors to not just get to IaaS, but to cloudify these apps in terms of automation of elasticity and that's where the millions in opportunity come to play. Other than that there are endless soft savings the likes of CFOs not very interested in listening to like unlimited HA, instant scalability, consistency in security with Infra as code, etc."


CIOs must change the narrative for cloud deployment with business examples. For instance, the organization can now fulfill 43% more medication from their central fill because the cloud-based application can scale up instantly when required. Another example is the ability to set up new locations faster with fewer on-premise infrastructure needs.


Don't Forget About The Other Apps


A typical health system uses hundreds of applications, and it's important to note that the EMR is just one application that integrates with all the others. CIOs' cloud strategy should also include moving all non-EMR on-premise applications.


Moving to the public cloud is a significant task, but this establishes the foundation that is crucial for the organization's growth and CIOs play a critical role in the transformation.

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