December 10, 2010, 1:24 PM — In the last two week I had the pleasure to participate to the IBM Analyst Insights 2010 in Madrid and Microsoft Health User group European Summit in Brussels. These two different events -- the first dedicated to explaining to the IT analyst community the future company strategy across the various sectors and business areas including, of course, healthcare, and the second aimed more at comparing the opinions of various EMEA healthcare stakeholders on the development of healthcare ICT -- made me think about the evolution and exploitation of cloud computing in healthcare in the last 12-18 months.
As my colleagues wrote in the IDC Predictions 2011: Welcome to the New Mainstream report: "2010 was really the first year in which all the major vendors seemed -with energy -to start building cloud service delivery into the core of their strategic road maps their offerings and of course their marketing ". In healthcare this is becoming particularly clear with the continuous launch of industry specific offerings from the ICT vendors community. For example, in October, IBM presented its strategy for "business industry transformation through Cloud" aimed at identifying which industry workloads have affinity with cloud, which is the currently favored deployment model (public, private, hybrid cloud) and at understanding how cloud will be integrated with existing infrastructures and how to remove concerns about risk management and business models Microsoft since the launch of Health Vault has put cloud in its long term strategy for healthcare, looking at the expanded healthcare environment including wellness and corroborating its cloud offering in the horizontal functions with solutions such as the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and the Azure platform.
More defined cloud strategy from ICT vendors is also the result of the fact that healthcare organizations' perception on what is right for the cloud is in flux and continues to evolve. In Europe, the aftermath of the peak of the economic crisis has been characterized by serious reduction and optimization of public expenditure, including healthcare spending.
This budget pressure has made the structural long-term sustainability challenges of EMEA healthcare systems even more compelling. As healthcare systems try to become more patient centric, so focused on the continuity of care and delivered through a network of healthcare providers operating out of traditional setting, the need for ubiquitous, flexible and cost effective information systems is more and more critical. Collaboration across the various settings is the mantra, but traditional IT delivery models cannot always effectively support it because of issues of costs, time for development and a lack of flexibility.