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Recap,

In part-one, True North ITG CEO and CISO Matt Murren offered an understanding of the key challenges stopping healthcare from moving to the cloud.

In part-two, we examined the advantages and disadvantages of using cloud for EHR (electronic health records).

In part-three, we outlined the key things to consider for your cloud migration strategy.

In part-four, Matt will investigate the disadvantages of cloud computing in healthcare.

The Risk of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

the risks of cloud computing

Difficulty in Planning for Cloud Resource Allocation

Interviewer:

So over the last few articles, we’ve been looking at trends inside of cloud deployment, the key considerations to have and how to look at deploying cloud.

Now if you’re at the point of having a plan in place, including a roadmap for understanding the cost and other key considerations, there’s the obvious question of ‘what are the downsides and the risks?’.

What are the main problems of deploying cloud? What must be on the radar of a leader in the healthcare organization, be it an IT director or a business leader wearing multiple hats?

Matt Murren:

The biggest gap is really the lack of discovery and ability to analyze workloads, which means determining how big do cloud servers need to be based on what’s in place on-premise.

The Cost of Underestimating Resource Requirements

That’s a major challenge and many times it produces unexpected cost when transferring to a cloud provider. If you don’t analyze correctly and sign-on to a cloud provider, you could end up with, “Hey, I must deploy twice as many resources!” That certainly impacts your cost.

Lacking a Dedicated Project Manager

The other challenge – one often overlooked – is having good project management. There are many moving parts and pieces, including other vendors and software vendors that require support. It’s extremely important when you’re in the middle of an engagement to have proper project management to facilitate that because – a lot of times – IT folks are not the best project managers and someone needs to look carefully at the detail.


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Interviewer:

Based on these issues that you’ve addressed, if you fail to budget correctly or fail to properly outlay your cloud needs, you could have some nasty surprises on the cost side of things.

For example, when you realize you need twice as much to compute resources that you originally had budgeted.

You said these issues emerge in the discovery process, but what other risks are there other than unexpected costs? What are the other problems that you hear that people have with cloud deployment?


Read about Mitigating Risks in Healthcare Moving to Cloud Efforts:


Insufficient Infrastructure

Matt Murren:

Lack of investment in the proper connectivity and network configurations is one that we see.

Insufficient Bandwidth

Too little bandwidth is not enough for failover in that configuration. In terms of hybrid, it’s important when some level of control is needed on-premise, you make sure that those are considered up front before you enter the system design phase. This way, when extending into the cloud you have the proper system configuration for performance.

Interviewer:

Essentially, what you’re saying is that not all cloud deployments are the same and if people were to just start rolling with the cloud – say with AWS or Azure –  the stacks that you have may not be properly configured for healthcare software systems and, as a result, you’ve bought into something that isn’t going to improve your performance nor your security and data protection?

Matt Murren:

Absolutely.

Interviewer:

Obviously, there are many benefits, but in part-two you mentioned that there are instances where you advise someone not to deploy cloud and that cloud isn’t in their best interest.

So when – at a high level – should you not consider cloud deployment? Can speak to that?


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Insufficient Organizational Preparation

Matt Murren:

I would say lacking adequate bandwidth is a big consideration. That’s your primary means to connect.

Insufficient Documentation of Existing Systems

I would also say that if you don’t have a good handle on your systems – meaning they’re not well documented and you don’t really understand how it would translate into cloud (either on your own or you’re not willing to pay someone else to assist you) – then that’s a recipe for disaster.

Lack of Support in Organization

The other piece is organizational buy-in. Typically, an organization will have different owners, Even though IT supports the main system, other departments may own those systems. If you don’t have buy-in from those folks, you’re really asking for trouble because you’re going to need buy-in and support from those stakeholders.

Interviewer:

I appreciate your candid insights. It’s definitely a lot to think about when you’re looking at deploying cloud and making sure you have the right expertise and project managers along with an in-depth discovery process. This is a lot for IT managers to certainly keep in mind.

In part-five, we’ll explore the main cost drivers of an effective cloud deployment for healthcare organizations. However, if you’re saddled with mounting on-premise IT costs and are exploring ways in which cloud lower your costs while also improve your hospital’s processes, then explore how our managed IT services can facilitate those changes.