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Healthcare lags in moving to cloud, survey finds


By Joseph Conn
Posted: February 13, 2013 - 2:15 pm ET
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Cloud computing is on the march across multiple business and government sectors, but the healthcare industry and state and local government, while in the cloud parade, are bringing up the rear, a recent survey of technology leaders shows.

Technology seller CDW, Vernon Hills, Ill., asked 1,242 information technology professionals about their views and their organizations' use of cloud computing. The survey also compared cloud adoption rates by industry sector in 2012 with those in 2011. Of the 156 healthcare IT leaders participating in the survey, 74% were from hospitals or medical centers, 14% from physician offices and 12% were with long-term care facilities.

Across all sectors, adoption of cloud computing is growing, with 39% of executives surveyed reporting their organizations were either implementing or maintaining a cloud-based IT system, up from 28% in the 2011 survey. Just 8% were maintaining a cloud system this year, compared with 31% implementing one, the survey data shows.

By industry, big business leads the charge toward the cloud with 44% of its IT leaders reporting that they were implementing or maintaining a cloud system. Higher education followed at 43%. Then came small business, the federal government and schools grades K-12, all at 42%; medium-sized business, 40%; healthcare 35% and state and local government, 27%.

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The growth rates of cloud formation between 2011 and 2012 in healthcare and in small government also tied for the smallest increases at 17% each, the survey showed.

Small business IT leaders were the biggest cloud converts, with their cloud usage rates doubling from 2011 to 2012, while use in mid-sized business grew almost as fast, at 90%.

In healthcare, the top services or applications migrating to the cloud were conferencing and collaboration, cited by 29% of healthcare IT executives, followed by computing power, 26%, and office and productivity suites, 22%. Storage was the most-often cited top use by other industries, chosen by small business and K12 education at 40%; medium business, 35%; higher ed, 31%; and state and local government, 19%.

The lag in cloud adoption in healthcare mirrors prior surveys elsewhere, as do the reasons for its slower-than-average uptake.

Among healthcare IT leaders queried by CDW, the biggest impeding factors to cloud adoption were concerns over security of their proprietary data and applications, cited by 51%; performance, 36%; and integration with legacy systems, 31%. Also, 67% of health IT leaders reported that their own personal use of cloud systems has influenced their recommendations to their organizations on cloud adoption, while 47% said employees' use of cloud and mobile applications is accelerating their move to the cloud.


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