The following article is a brief summary of an article that I wrote for SearchHealthIT.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Because it is still an emerging technology, healthcare organizations (HCOs) are still in the early stages of determining how the cloud fits into the health information management and technology ecosystem. Providers are still calculating how to balance the possible benefits of cloud computing in healthcare with the obvious security, technical and legal risks.

According to a Cloud Computing in Health by Canada Health Infoway, cloud computing models support three ways of provisioning computing resources as services:

  • Software
  • Platforms
  • Infrastructure

The potential of cloud computing in healthcare is to enable providers to better meet changing technology, regulatory, and market demands. But healthcare organizations understand that the use of the cloud is not without risk, and this is perhaps one of the most significant barriers to cloud adoption by healthcare organizations. Some identified risks include:

  • Data breaches
  • Data loss
  • Account hijacking
  • Denial of service
  • Malicious insiders
  • Insufficient due diligence

There are numerous opportunities for significant financial, technological and service-related benefits associated with cloud computing. Yet, as with most emerging technologies, there are risks (both known and unknown) that must be mitigated to realize the potential benefits and, most importantly, to ensure the security and privacy of any data stored in the cloud.

Healthcare executives must balance the risks, benefits, and business and IT needs of the organization to best determine if, how and where cloud computing should be featured in their health IT provisioning strategy.

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This is a summary of a recent article I wrote for

The promise of cloud-based analytics

Because of the computing power, data storage, and network bandwidth that some modern analytics and simulations require, the healthcare industry requires cost-effective and scalable solutions. Cloud-based services offer a promising option.

Many of the reporting and analytics tools used by today’s healthcare decision makers are quickly becoming outdated. Months-old data on static reports no longer do the job; clinical and business insight is increasingly based on algorithms that ingest and process large volumes of myriad types of data.

As the analytics needs of decision-makers, data scientists, and healthcare analysts continue to expand (and possibly outgrow a hospital’s capability to provide the necessary tools and infrastructure), stealth implementations (such as rogue databases and unauthorized tools) will crop up. These approaches negate any efficiency that enterprise business intelligence (BI) and data warehouses create, and they introduce obvious security risks and support challenges.

Benefits of cloud-based analytics

One option being looked at by many healthcare organizations (HCOs) is cloud-based analytics. Such solutions can potentially address cost and scalability concerns as part of an overall analytics solution. HCOs must consider many factors, however, when exploring an emerging technology like cloud analytics. According to a 2012 survey by Gartner Inc., the results of which still hold true, there are three main factors driving the adoption of analytics and BI in the cloud:

  • Time to value
  • Cost concerns
  • Lack of available expertise

There are many advantages to including at least some component of cloud analytics in a healthcare organization’s overall IT and analytics strategy. SmartData Collective lays out some of the advantages a healthcare organization can expect:

  • Spending more time analyzing data
  • Accessing multiple tools
  • Increasing analytical flexibility

In conclusion

Healthcare organizations should investigate the various options, risks and benefits of cloud-based analytics deployment to see if such solutions are a proper fit and would provide an advantage over traditional healthcare analytics software. Cloud analytics products are a viable choice (from cost, efficiency and computing power perspectives) for IT directors facing increasing information demands and increasingly scarce resources.

Follow this link for the entire cloud-based analytics article.


Healthcare Analytics Q&A: What Are the “Three V’s” of Big Data?

by Trevor Strome January 20, 2015

Healthcare Analytics “Q&A” Series Every day, I receive emails from readers of asking questions about healthcare analytics topics, trends, and issues. These questions arise out of posts they’ve read on this website or encountered elsewhere. Although I endeavour to answer each question individually, I’ve created this “Question & Answer” series on to provide [...]

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Upcoming NIHI Seminar: Advanced Healthcare Performance Measurement

by Trevor Strome January 15, 2015

 Join me on January 29, 2015 for my National Institutes of Health Informatics (NIHI) web seminar entitled “Advanced Healthcare Performance Measurement“. Click here to register. About the Session The complexity of health care demands that a robust approach to measuring quality be followed. Healthcare quality and performance must be defined in terms that are quantifiable—meaning they [...]

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Six Ways to Improve the Usefulness of Data Visualizations in Healthcare

by Trevor Strome January 13, 2015

  Improve decision-making with data visualization Data visualization is an important way to communicate information quickly and effectively. In fact, data visualization is one of the key principles that contribute to effective decision-making in healthcare organizations. In recognition of this, many business intelligence (BI) and data analysis software packages provide sophisticated data visualization capabilities. These [...]

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Strategic Analytics Framework for Leveraging Data and Health Information Systems

by Trevor Strome January 5, 2015

Healthcare analytics and IT are progressing rapidly Healthcare analytics is a rapidly advancing field. Healthcare organizations (HCOs) along with the analysts, data scientists, and Information Technology (IT) professionals who work in them are faced with myriad choices regarding how best to meet the information and decision-making needs of administrators and, most importantly, clinical staff working [...]

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Keeping Security and Privacy Top-Of-Mind when Using Healthcare Data

by Trevor Strome November 17, 2014

Healthcare organizations are always working to improve the quality of their care and the efficiency of their business operations. Data analytics for these clinical quality improvement efforts require access to data for determining process baseline performance, detecting trends and patterns in quality based on key indicators, and simulating potential outcomes of new processes and workflows. [...]

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Healthcare Data Analytics Summit – Toronto, December 2014

by Trevor Strome September 29, 2014

The Third National Summit on Healthcare Data Analytics is coming to Toronto, Ontario December 2-3, 2014. I’m honored to be chairing this outstanding event this year, as there is an outstanding lineup of speakers. There are expert speakers attending from across North America and internationally. Several of the timely and important topics include: population health [...]

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The HIPAA Basics that Healthcare Analytics Professionals and Data Scientists Must Know

by Trevor Strome September 26, 2014

Healthcare analytics professionals and data scientists access and use healthcare data on a near-constant basis. Whether it is for designing dashboards or building predictive models, the use of sensitive information is a necessity in efforts to leverage analytics to improve healthcare. Also essential, however, is keeping the private health information that we access and use [...]

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Big Data and Data Science – A Statistician’s View

by Trevor Strome September 12, 2014

While the various methods and technologies associated with Big Data and Data Science offer exciting potential to dramatically improve the business and clinical insight available to healthcare professionals (both clinical and administrative), there is no shortage of hype associated with them either. Oftentimes what is missing from the discussion is an objective look at the [...]

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