Why healthcare payers are finally ready for the cloud after decades of resistance

The annual HIMSS conference, while a bit overwhelming, is a good barometer for trends that are transitioning from cutting-edge to more widely-accepted. This past February, our team noticed a palpable shift in the healthcare audience’s receptivity to cloud-based technologies. There was a day-long forum dedicated to cloud computing. The keynote from Eric Schmidt was all about moving to the cloud. Health insurance companies, health systems and other tech companies seem to be finally getting comfortable with debunking a lot of myths around why IT teams should consider moving infrastructure to the cloud:

Myth #1: Isn’t it less secure?

In healthcare, we all know protecting PHI is of the utmost importance. But the cloud offers significant security benefits not typically available for on-premise solutions. As it is a more current technology, cloud technology developers are also aware of more current security threats. Common security controls in the cloud include systemic security services that guard against attacks, data encryption, access controls and access logging, built-in backup and redundancy, scalability and high availability – all compelling features of the cloud that have become widely standard for cloud-based offerings. All of these measures protect your data from natural disasters, sharp demand increases, and malicious actors.

Myth #2: Don’t I have less control?

Cloud-based technology opens doors to much broader capabilities than those that are typically found in a similar solution delivered through on-premise systems. Through simple connections to other systems – both cloud and otherwise – cloud infrastructures offer quick response times and broad connections that can have significant advantages, such as improving data analytics, offloading data storage, and introducing machine learning.

Myth #3: I don’t think this can fit into my existing infrastructure.

There are certainly some barriers built by existing EHR systems that make it tough to integrate (we won’t argue whether this is purposeful or not). But on the whole, cloud infrastructure is easily accessible through APIs and through interface engines in the case of heavier connections. This allows virtually any environment to include some cloud components.

How can a healthcare company with legacy on-premise solutions approach the cloud?

Believe it or not, a great place to start is with master data management. There is nothing more foundational to your ability to ingest and analyze data than a sound member-centric data approach. If you have duplicate identities in your database, this can be significantly hindering the down-stream business units, likely causing you headaches as well.

Verato offers a cloud-based solution, Verato Auto-Steward, that can plug into your existing MDM solution to identify and resolve these duplicate identities. Alternatively, the Verato Universal Master Person Index (MPI) can sit alongside your MDM solution to process duplicates upon ingestion of supplemental data – such as lab data – and ensure this data is properly matched to the member profile.

You don’t need to flip a switch overnight. Many organizations, like our friends at Healthix (the largest public HIE in the country) have opted to leverage Amazon Web Services and cloud-based vendors to make the transition to a full cloud environment. In addition to the cost benefits, they are also well on their way to HITRUST certification – the leading and most widely recognized third-party compliance auditing framework within healthcare – based on this set-up.