5 considerations for modernizing your health IT infrastructure with the cloud

From enhanced clinical productivity to better operational management and the ability to predict IT spend more accurately, modernizing your health IT infrastructure through the cloud can enable significant enterprise-wide advancements and benefits. However, migrating sensitive patient data and critical systems is a complex process that requires a deep understanding of healthcare alongside expertise in cloud services and solutions.

At its core, moving to the cloud is an opportunity to modernize your data, applications, and infrastructure stacks. The progressive nature of the cloud journey allows healthcare leaders to realize immediate value. For example, as solutions organically evolve and advancements are built in, cloud platforms empower healthcare leaders to focus more on improving outcomes and less on mundane IT tasks. Cloud-based solutions are more than just a deployment of a few new IT services. To drive innovation, digitization, and modernization around patient care and operational infrastructure, healthcare organizations should develop strategic cloud initiatives that incorporate industry best practices and well-architected frameworks.

Ready to get started? Here are some key considerations for healthcare IT leaders who are looking to build a cloud strategy that supports a robust platform and greater overall efficiency.

Pre-implementation strategic planning

By design, the technological resilience of cloud architecture enables continuous innovation for clinical care operations, end-to-end platform advancement, and seamless integration between cross technology and software architectures, even at scale.

Defining short-term (six months to a year) and long-term (one to five or more years) organizational goals that address patient and clinician experience, healthcare advancements, and strategic visioning is an efficient way to integrate technical and clinical functions into your cloud strategy, ensuring the most positive impact for your patients, providers, and payers.

It’s also important to think about financial engineering, which includes the total cost of operations and budgeting. Cloud provides integrated tools for FinOps and having this weaved into the planning phases allows health IT leaders to choose the right cloud types based on their goals.

Organizational change management

A recent study shows organizations with effective change management practices are 3.5 times more likely to outperform industry peers. To enhance speed of adoption, use, and proficiency, a well-drafted organizational change management plan that has commitment from executive shareholders should be executed throughout the cloud migration life cycle.

An effective change management strategy is people-centered, providing all team members with the resources, procedures, and technical and functional awareness needed to successfully navigate the changes that come with implementing new technologies. Additionally, tactics such as road shows and tabletop exercises can be highly effective within a change management approach.

Data governance

Cloud provides an integral framework for how all types of data can be migrated, ingested, and enriched to elevate every area of healthcare. Data governance provides clinicians, researchers, and other leaders across the healthcare ecosystem with a framework for using massive amounts of data to enhance patient care quality and accelerate innovation.

A governance framework that improves data quality and trust is a vital part of a powerful cloud strategy. This set of policies, processes, procedures, roles, and responsibilities guides how data is collected, stored, accessed, and used enterprisewide.

Using cloud-native tools throughout the data framework helps to strengthen data pipelines driven by metadata (information about data structure, types, relationships, and formats). This dynamic governance approach can help simplify the integration, management, use, and scaling of enormous amounts of healthcare data from various sources.

Data security and access management

Cybersecurity continues to be a growing concern in healthcare. In the U.S., the 11 largest health data breaches in 2023 affected more than 70.3 million individuals (about twice the population of California), compared to 21.5 million in 2022. These incidents are damaging to patient safety and trust as well as a hospital or health system’s bottom line. As cloud security is a shared responsibility between your organization and the cloud provider, creating a comprehensive data security plan as part of your overall cloud strategy is important. Your data can only be as secure as the systems in place to address the technologies, policies, services, and security controls needed to continuously protect all your different data types against loss, leakage, or misuse. Leveraging cloud guard rails, access management, and tactics around cyber recovery, disaster recovery, and business continuity should also be baked into this section of your cloud strategy.

Trusted strategic partnership

Overwhelmed with the thought of constructing and executing all the pieces of a winning cloud strategy? Examine the benefits of working with a trusted strategic partner who can meet you wherever you are on your cloud journey with lessons learned and guidance on technology, financial engineering, and how best to achieve organizational goals. With the help of functional and technical expertise, that spans data and analytics, legacy platforms, interoperability, cybersecurity, digital health, and more, you can develop an effective cloud strategy that enables your organization and the people you serve to experience the true potential of health IT modernization.

Want more actionable insights on cloud? Click here to read Nordic’s e-book, “Preparing for the cloud-powered future of healthcare."

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