A survey from HIMSS Analytics finds 83 percent of healthcare organizations currently use cloud services. Nearly half of these respondents are using the services to host clinical applications, with the majority hosting data using Software-as-a-Service models.

Nearly all of the healthcare organizations surveyed that are currently using cloud services expect to expand their use in the future, while two-thirds of respondents not using clouds have plans to start. Popular areas for expanded cloud use include hosting of archived data, back up and disaster recovery, and hosting of operational data.

Nevertheless, only 4 percent of respondents not using the cloud have plans to engage such services in the next year, and few of these organizations are presently in contract negotiations with a cloud services provider. Security issues, such as the physical or technical security of cloud services providers, and a cloud services provider’s willingness to enter into a business associate agreement were identified as key factors healthcare organizations expect to take into consideration when deciding to move forward with a cloud services provider.

Not surprisingly, 75 percent of cloud-using respondents to the survey favor either a private cloud service or hybrid cloud services instead of a public cloud service. Only 6 percent of respondents indicated that their healthcare organization would not use cloud services in the future. And, nearly half of these respondents cited security concerns as a key factor keeping them from using cloud services.

“Cloud services have been long praised as a tool to reduce operating expenses for healthcare organizations. The data presented in our inaugural survey demonstrates the healthcare industry’s eagerness to leverage this resource,” said Lorren Pettit, vice president of market research for HIMSS Analytics. At the same time, HIMSS Vice President of Technology Solutions Lisa Gallagher acknowledges there are significant challenges related to the use of cloud services by healthcare organizations and “our next step is for the healthcare industry to work with cloud service providers to move forward together in addressing these challenges.” 

Results of the HIMSS Analytics cloud survey of 150 respondents--including medical practices, hospitals, and healthcare systems--can be found here.

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