Cloud and Healthcare: What Forrester Says and Our Take on the Space

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It should be no surprise to hear that Healthcare Organizations (HCO’s) of all kinds are moving to the cloud.  I see most of our provider and payor clients, making significant investments. Some of the platforms they use were evaluated in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Health Clouds, Q3 2019, a taste of which can be found in this Forrester blog post.

If you read the actual report, you’ll see that each vendor has specific strengths. IBM Cloud differentiates with its breadth of healthcare analytics. Google Cloud Platform shines bright with its healthcare API. And Microsoft Azure stands out with its healthcare-savvy partner network. I believe each vendor needs to focus on a well-rounded approach. Let me give you our list of essential requirements culled from several clients cloud projects:

  1. Support key healthcare standards like FHIR, HL7, SmartIG, and OpenID.  Of course, it’s a given that any solution is HIPAA compliant.
  2. Provide API management and other API related capabilities
  3. Provide additional tools to manage data flow. This includes ETL / ELT.
  4. Provide a data warehouse and data lake capabilities.  You want to store a lot of this data and make it available.
  5. Give a payor or provider options to integrate and interact with existing tools and systems.  It’s not all cloud tools all the time.
  6. Provide tools and options to enable heavy lifting and processing in the cloud.  What I’m really talking about is the porting and/or creation of scalable apps in the cloud.
  7. Make it easy to gain insights from the data in the cloud.
  8. Make it easy to transfer the insight to some system of action.


Examples of How Cloud Trends With Our Clients

While not an exhaustive list, we see a lot happening with our healthcare clients.  Hopefully, it gives you some ideas on general trends and why Enterprise Health Cloud is essential.

  • Data Warehouse.  Many clients are using the cloud for data warehouse and analytics needs. What’s interesting is that many of our clients use the data warehouse in the cloud but continue to use 3rd party ETL tool for transfer and transformation.
  • Analytics: Less of a huge trend and more of a note that many HCO’s see a synergy between data tools and analytics tools that leads to an Azure /PowerBI approach, for example.
  • Predictive Modeling: Almost by default these days we see many HCO’s use cloud-based tools to create models
  • Enterprise Heavy Lifting.  Both payors and providers are going to the cloud and using a variety of vendors to create native cloud apps that scale and are cost-effective. In one case, a client even used cloud-based services to replace a well-known vendor workflow-based platform.
  • API, and API management.  Gone are the ESB and SOA days.  We see many of HCO’s using cloud-based tools. Not all choose this route, but enough do that it’s a trend, and we are starting to see clients just expect the cloud platform to do the integration.
    • We should note that since all the major platforms support HL7, FHIR, and other essential standards, there aren’t any major roadblocks in this area.
  • Smart Chatbot: I want to say AI and Machine Learning, but the reality is that while many are using AI/ML for chatbots, this is still an evolving area.  Many HCO’s are still dipping their toes in the water for more advanced usage

The Bottom Line

No one doubts that the enterprise health cloud is here to stay.  All the major cloud vendors will continue to make significant investments in cloud capabilities. Those investments will extend far beyond support for regulatory standards and policies.  You should look closely at both their current support and where each vendor’s healthcare roadmap will take them.



About the Author

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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