Even though there has been a significant rise in the adoption of cloud computing in the healthcare sector, public cloud providers have faced difficulties in moving Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to cloud and/or integrating them with other cloud applications.
A Forrester survey report mentioned that despite macroeconomic uncertainty in the past year, 56% of organizations increased their cloud spending. But installing an EMR system in the public cloud environment has been the most significant hurdle for service providers.
This is where CIOs can play a critical role. The first step is moving the EMR systems to cloud. But an EMR — a digital record and charts of a patient meant for internal use by a doctor and others at a hospital — is just one of the hundreds of applications a typical health system uses.
“Patients, care givers and healthcare employees are now so used to seamless digital experiences in their day-to-day life across different channels and service or product providers, that they expect same or superior levels of engagement with healthcare enterprises,” says Dr. Sandesh R Prabhu, Senior Vice President and Head, Practices and Solutions Group, Life Sciences and Healthcare (LSH), HCLTech.
EMR systems haven’t been moved to cloud because this process is costly and time-consuming and because healthcare organizations have been traditionally averse to the perceived risks associated with such a move. The caution often stems from potential security and data safety concerns which link directly to patients’ health.
In the new normal of digital healthcare enterprises, there is an urgent need to move to cloud to improve patient-centric care. This should be driven by CIOs who need to change the narrative around cloud.
“This is a big opportunity for CIOs in healthcare to lead the charge as chief digital transformation officers. Cloud adoption is a cornerstone of such a transformation, as it provides the backbone for the newest upcoming technologies,” adds Dr. Prabhu.
The good news is that the tide is already turning, and more healthcare providers are beginning to move their production EMR systems to the cloud to drive patient-care transformation at scale. Tech majors like Microsoft, AWS and HCLTech are helping the healthcare sector with this work.
For example, Microsoft Azure Large Instances is a solution that operates an EMR system with the capability of 50 million database accesses per second. New York’s Mount Sinai Health System uses this for its Electronic Health Record (EHR) database, Sentara Healthcare uses Microsoft Azure for its production and disaster recovery instance and Tufts Medicine partners with AWS cloud for deploying its production EMR system and 40 other applications.
Mount Sinai and Tufts Medicine use the ‘Epic’ EMR system that is helpful when transitioning to a public cloud provider. Epic is the leading industry vendor in the new inpatient EMR implementations with a 70% market share, followed by Oracle Cerner with a 6% share.
An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a longitudinal shareable data that not only includes Electronic Medical Record (EMR) of a patient, but also provides solutions and tools for workflows like ordering labs and prescribing medications.
Delivering an EMR strategy in cloud
HCLTech has helped its clients with implementing EMR systems. For example, a US-based healthcare organization, serving nearly 650,000 patients annually, wanted to save costs with an EMR strategy that would bring its multiple EMR solutions under one umbrella, freeing up talent for better output elsewhere.
HCLTech delivered a ‘One EMR’ system infrastructure that is now delivering improved agility, real-time data transfer and interoperability. All hospitals in the client’s network of hospitals are now integrated into a single enterprise model. The customized Cerner solution implemented by HCLTech delivered immediate cost savings due to extensive process optimization and automation.
Many organizations feel that digital transformation (moving to the cloud, using IoT-enabled equipment and wearing a pair of AI-enabled VR glasses) is costly and comes with a hassle. However, Dr. Prabhu highlighted the brighter side.
“Digital transformation is not necessarily costly when one looks at it from a total cost of ownership standpoint, including the tangible and intangible benefits. This is already being proven on the ground by tech enablers like HCLTech, where we have been able to save significant costs for our clients by leveraging our own investments, experiences and accelerators. The additional growth and efficiencies these new proven technology investments bring often leave behind the associated direct and indirect costs,” he says.