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Gerry Miller, Founder & CEO, HITRUST Collaborate Sponsor, Cloudticity

When healthcare organizations move to the cloud, they’re generally chasing financial ROI: reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of data center equipment, staff, facilities, and other expenditures typically associated with managing and maintaining data centers.

But the journey quickly morphs into a pursuit of agility ROI: how fast you can operate. Productivity increases exponentially, and organizations find things that were once impossible become achievable, like testing new ideas or taking on a risky project.

The cloud disrupts managed services

Traditionally, managed services were incredibly people-heavy, with eyeballs on screens and feet tapping in swivel chairs while scribbling on post-it notes, responding to incidents based on runbooks from a Network Operations Center (NOC).

With the proliferation of the cloud, this is no longer a viable solution. Modern IT needs have outgrown what traditional managed services can provide, and here’s why.

1. The massive amounts of data in the modern IT infrastructure stretch the analytical capabilities of human beings.

2. Human response time is too slow for today’s cyber threats. The average time it takes for ransomware to start encrypting your files, for example, is only three seconds.

3. NOCs don’t scale well. Adding staff with the right skills requires time-consuming and challenging hiring cycles. Plus, people are expensive.

Cloudticity recognized early on that managed services in the cloud era are a software problem, not a people problem. Using application programming interfaces (APIs), the vast majority of manual operations tasks can be automated in the cloud, reducing the need for humans and increasing the consistency and scalability of operations.

That’s why Cloudticity set out to automate managed services when it created the next-gen managed services platform for healthcare, Cloudticity Oxygen™. Today, Oxygen automates over 99% of operational tasks for its clients. This allows the organization to maintain a lean team and focus most of its time on strategic client work, like improving cloud architectures for efficiency and costs.

The cloud disrupts security

Today, the consensus in the industry is that the cloud is more secure than traditional infrastructure. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google invest heavily in the best security practices, tools, and talent as part of their business models.

Additionally, security in the cloud is more scalable. You can deploy consistent security across your infrastructure using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) with just a few clicks, which is faster than dealing with servers and manually tuning each one before turning it on.

But there’s a shared risk model in the cloud. One of the biggest misconceptions is that customers think by using the public cloud, they are secure by default. That’s only partially true; you still have to secure your applications and data in the cloud. You have to ensure you follow best practices like encrypting data, using least privilege and role-based access, rotating IAM keys, and so on.

99% of cloud security failures will remain the customer’s fault. Usually, someone leaves an S3 bucket open to the public internet or grants more access privileges than needed.

Humans make errors. So, what’s the solution? It’s automating security operations.

When you automate security, you gain predictability and control over your deployments no matter how fast they scale, reducing the risk of human error. Organizations failing at security treat their cloud like they treat their data centers. They’re running security operations manually instead of embracing an entirely new way of operating.

Another big advantage cloud provides is the ability to use artificial intelligence (AI) to drive security operations. Traditionally, we relied on humans staring at screens, running database queries, and trying to identify anomalous patterns that could indicate security events.

But in the cloud, we can use AI to monitor telemetry data, reducing human effort. We can train AI models to watch what’s happening inside our systems, identify suspicious behavior, and respond effectively and automatically.

The cloud disrupts compliance

Just as application development and infrastructure management had to evolve to address the cloud, regulatory bodies had to transform how they think. Compliance used to be measured at a point in time once every audit cycle. Usually, compliance teams would scramble to collect evidence annually from developer and IT teams, who would cringe as they were forced to divert effort away from their normal activities to perform mundane, check-the-box tasks.

That doesn’t work in the cloud because cloud environments are constantly changing. You might be compliant now, but what about in an hour or a few minutes? Developers have the power to spin up resources on their own in the cloud, and it’s not uncommon for them to do so without any eyes from security or compliance, creating misconfigurations.

That’s why compliance in the cloud requires continuous monitoring. Tools like cloud security posture management (CSPM) continuously enforce policies, disallow the creation of non-compliant resources, produce alerts when a policy is crossed, and even auto-remediate issues.

The cloud disrupts healthcare

Just as the cloud has disrupted security, compliance, and the way IT is managed entirely, the cloud is driving transformational change across the clinical setting as well. Using the cloud, we can solve major healthcare challenges that have boggled professionals’ minds for years.

Preventative care

The cloud has democratized sophisticated technologies previously out of reach for most organizations. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is an example of a capability that is available now, even to the humblest of clinics.

Using AI/ML tools, organizations can analyze large volumes of clinical data and identify patterns that are not immediately obvious to human practitioners. They can discover early signs of diseases like breast cancer, congestive heart failure, and Alzheimer’s.

Value-Based Care (VBC)

Switching from a fee-for-service reimbursement model, which reimburses providers based on the costs of the services provided, to a value-based reimbursement model, which reimburses providers based on quality of care instead of quantity, is an important step for improving care globally while managing costs for patients.

Calculating VBC metrics is a big data exercise that exceeds the capabilities of traditional infrastructure. It requires interoperability between disparate electronic health records (EHR) systems, sophisticated data analysis, and AI/ML modeling.

As the cloud can improve interoperability between systems and employ AI/ML models on those data, we can determine which treatments are most effective for particular ailments and identify treatments that might be unnecessary or overly costly. Then, we can assess the quality of care and reward providers accordingly, incentivizing them to provide the best care while keeping cost efficiency for the patient in mind.

Clinical efficiency

Clinicians often spend too much time inputting notes into the system, which can result in extended visits, long wait times for patients, and fewer patients served in a given time.

Solutions from CSPs are changing that. Microsoft and Epic recently announced the release of the Nuance® Dragon® Ambient eXperience™ Express (DAX Express™) solution for Epic EHR. Dax, a generative AI solution, allows clinicians to draft clinical notes automatically, reducing hours of work to mere seconds and enabling them to spend more time with patients.
Enhancing the patient experience
Healthcare CIOs are increasingly expected to leverage technology to streamline and simplify the patient journey. Hospitals are expected to offer telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, automated check-ins, and other solutions that improve convenience for the patient.

Managing, upgrading, and scaling all these applications on-premises is complex and involves guessing the needed capacity. An incorrect estimate will leave organizations with unused space or unserved patients. However, by putting these applications in the cloud, managing becomes simpler because it enables matching resource availability with demand.

The cloud drives transformational impact in healthcare

When Cloudticity brought the first Health Information Exchange to the cloud in 2014, hundreds of clinics and medical centers could access the information they needed to provide the best care.

When New York needed help managing COVID-19 patient data in 2020, it took Cloudticity six days to get a data analytics environment up and running. The ROI of that project was saving the lives of tens of thousands of people.

The healthcare industry brings benefits to people, cities, and countries. It brings hope to families during times of uncertainty and makes miracles happen.

As health IT professionals, it’s our responsibility to do our part to serve these populations the very best we can. And today, that means adopting the cloud and leveraging it to its full potential.

You can learn more about how the cloud is driving meaningful change in healthcare in this on-demand webinar with Sameer Badlani, MD, or reach out to Cloudticity here to learn how to unlock the cloud’s full potential for your healthcare business.

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