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Healthcare Cloud Strategy: Six Considerations
Healthcare practices generate a lot of data. Patient records, large image files and films, and communication records take up a lot of storage space. While leveraging the cloud is proven to deliver positive ROI and many other powerful benefits, identifying the right strategy isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
It can be challenging for IT leaders to initiate a productive conversation with executives that truly examines the cost delta, risk tolerance, and performance objectives of a cloud design. Many facets of cloud computing aren’t widely understood, and in many ways, cloud computing is a moving target.
Our IT experts created this quick primer to help guide decision-makers through the steps in evaluating the right cloud strategy for your practice.
How Much Cloud Storage do I Need?
From what we’ve found with the hundreds of healthcare sites we work with, it’s likely your practice is probably already in the cloud at the appropriate level. (We can help you verify that.) The challenge is determining the right balance of having services onsite versus having them provided in one or more public clouds.
While the public cloud’s utility-based consumption of services is promising, the reality is the cost delta for healthcare groups often means they need a blended solution.
A blended solution (not a hybrid) uses a combination of local or private cloud servers combined with public cloud services where they make the most business sense. For the network connectivity, we advise our clients to use an SD-WAN product to improve reliability and leverage inexpensive connectivity options.
Best Practices for Blended Cloud
Designing a blended cloud footprint for a healthcare setting requires strong knowledge of a practice’s business workflows. Based on the workflows, the list of requirements for security, flexibility, and business functionality becomes very clear.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when designing a healthcare-specific, blended cloud footprint.
1. Don’t try to be a data center.
A blended cloud incorporates a combination of on-premise services and cloud-based services. For non-cloud services, consider co-locating your equipment in a professional data center. Data centers and co-location facilities provide:
- Reliability: offering redundant cooling, power and communication systems sparing you the CAPEX and space
- Security: spreading spread the costs of strong physical security over many tenants
- Scalability: permitting faster flexibility to scale up or down as your business needs change
2. Use cloud services like Nimble Cloud Volumes, AWS S3 or Wasabi Cloud Storage to capitalize on cheap storage.
For example, it’s possible to automate the transfer of old user data, old images, and even old mailboxes to the cloud where storage is a fraction of costs compared to similarly maintained and protected local storage.
3. Utilize cloud providers for proof of concepts that can be built and spun up and down very quickly while only paying for what your practice is using.
4. Audit cloud service utilization every year to ensure your organization still needs those resources.
5. Commit to ongoing monitoring.
Designate IT resources to continuously monitoring the ever-changing public cloud landscape and then systemically identifying things that make sense to move to the public cloud. We’re advising our clients to use public cloud storage and backup solutions.
6. Leverage SaaS solutions.
Solutions like Microsoft 365 free up time to focus on core business strengths, reduce long term costs, maintain predictable long-term costs, and streamline software audits.
There’s No Silver Bullet
There isn’t a single configuration that meets the requirements of every healthcare practice. Using a blended approach offers the benefits of local control, more bandwidth, and security combined with the advantage of using the less expensive services provided in the public cloud.