Healthcare Cloud Migration: Planning for a Smooth Transition

Healthcare cloud migration has become increasingly prevalent in the healthcare industry, transforming various operations including clinical, finance, HR, and supply chain management. The market for healthcare cloud computing is projected to surpass $62 billion by 2030. By 2026, it is expected that 70% of hospitals will adopt healthcare cloud migration and embrace cloud-based approaches to supply chain management. 

Transitioning to the cloud also raises many challenges. Sixty-two percent of cloud migration projects either fail or encounter more difficulties than anticipated, often due to legacy system obstacles, shortage of skilled personnel, and insufficient change management practices. 

Simply adopting the technology is not enough. Successful cloud migration requires a carefully crafted strategy, adherence to industry best practices, and a well-designed architecture aligned with specific business objectives to optimize the advantages offered by the cloud. 

Let’s look at some of the benefits and strategies for healthcare organizations to optimize cloud migration and carry out a smooth transition.

What is a Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration involves transferring an organization’s data, applications, and infrastructure from on-premise systems to cloud-based platforms. This process includes moving data and workloads to remote servers managed by third-party cloud service providers.

Healthcare cloud migration offers several benefits. They enable organizations to leverage new functionalities, optimize resource allocation, and enhance agility and flexibility by providing data accessibility from any device or location. Additionally, healthcare cloud migration reduces dependence on physical infrastructure and lowers expenses, offering a seamless and scalable infrastructure that can accommodate evolving requirements.

What are the Benefits of Healthcare Cloud Migration?

What are the Benefits of Healthcare Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration can have a profound impact on healthcare companies, presenting ample opportunities for advancement, including:

  • Minimize data security risks
  • Reduce operational costs 
  • Foster team collaboration
  • Improved patient experience 
Minimize Data Security Risks

Minimize Data Security Risks

Data security is a major concern for IT decision-makers during system changes or updates. In the past, paper medical records were highly vulnerable to data theft, damage, and loss. This exposed huge risks to patient safety, privacy, and confidentiality. 

Healthcare cloud migration dramatically improves data security. A study revealed that organizations leveraging cloud-based services saw a remarkable 43% reduction in security incidents. By utilizing cutting-edge security technologies, employing top-notch security professionals, and implementing code-based automation for security tasks, healthcare organizations can strengthen their security stance with less effort and fewer resources. 

This has also helped healthcare organizations improve compliance with strict healthcare industry regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH, which mandate robust protection of patient data, privacy, and security.

Reduce Operational Costs 

Healthcare cloud migration improves service delivery within tight budgets. Healthcare organizations can effectively allocate resources while enhancing the overall quality of healthcare services.

Cloud migration also significantly reduces capital costs. Pay-as-you-go access to servers, storage devices, and computing capability eliminates extensive hardware purchases and inefficiencies associated with over-provisioning.

Additionally, healthcare cloud migration can reduce staffing costs. By relying on the technical expertise of the cloud provider’s staff, organizations can minimize the need for in-house resources and training. Experienced cloud vendors can optimize resource utilization and streamline operations.

Foster Team Collaboration

In the past, patients had separate medical records at each healthcare provider they visited, including doctors and specialists. However, the healthcare cloud migration in hospitals and healthcare facilities has revolutionized collaboration. 

This technological advancement allows doctors to effortlessly access and exchange a patient’s medical records, ensuring real-time updates and a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s history with other care providers. This helps healthcare professionals make more informed treatment decisions. 

This interoperability enhances operational efficiency by addressing common data compatibility challenges when coordinating information flow between legacy systems. Healthcare cloud migration promotes seamless integration and better performance, ultimately driving productivity and fostering digital healthcare innovation.

Improved Patient Experience 

Healthcare cloud migration has transformed by giving doctors and patients seamless access to critical medical information. Patients can have live access to a wide range of resources, including their medical records, lab testing reports, and doctors’ notes. This increased accessibility helps patients proactively manage their health, leading to improved healthcare outcomes. 

The easy exchange of information among healthcare facilities also enhances patient safety. By utilizing the advantages of cloud migration in healthcare, doctors can see the interactions among patients and other medical professionals, including comprehensive visibility into prescribed medications and administered tests. This coordinated approach to patient care prevents excessive prescriptions and unnecessary repetition of tests, making patients happier and healthier.

Data Migration Strategies for Healthcare

A smooth and successful healthcare data migration to the cloud requires: 

  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Verification
Reduce Operational Costs

Migration Planning

The pivotal initial phase of migration identifies the current location of healthcare data, determines its intended destination, and outlines the approach for its seamless transfer. This requires several steps:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive data assessment and cleansing: Obtain a thorough understanding of the data’s size, stability, and format while diligently identifying any inaccuracies or incompleteness in data fields. It is essential to ensure that the data adheres to the appropriate destination format, considering specific formats or structures mandated by certain healthcare systems. 

This audit helps map fields to the target system and identify any gaps. The next crucial step is to cleanse the data, addressing any concerns relevant to data errors and duplicate records and ensuring data accuracy, timeliness, and completeness.

Migration plan design: Once the data is ready, it is important to outline the technical architecture and processes of your project and establish the budget and timelines. Businesses first need to determine if they will completely migrate all data or gradually transfer data over time, which requires a hybrid environment with some data stored in the cloud and some on-premise. Based on this, businesses can lock in a detailed plan that includes specific migration steps, timeframes, responsibilities, and necessary tools and expertise.

  1. Stakeholder mapping: Clearly articulate project objectives and key milestones with all stakeholders, addressing factors that may affect other teams, such as system downtime. Maintain a formal approach to these communications to eliminate potential misunderstandings or disruptions throughout the migration process.
  2. Solutions development and pre-testing: Start coding the designed migration logic to extract, transform, and load data into the new repository. Consider partitioning large datasets into sections and sequentially constructing and evaluating each one.

To complete the development cycle, thoroughly test the finalized code in a non-production environment before proceeding with execution.

Migration Execution 

Introducing change may present challenges, underscoring the significance of meticulously outlining a comprehensive plan beforehand to mitigate potential risks. Provide adequate training to prepare all staff members for the migration. These steps help ensure a smooth and successful transition with effective implementation and utilization.

Process Verification

Successful data migration requires comprehensive, frequent data validation. Carefully verify accurate data transfer, confirm correct values in the destination tables, and identify any potential data loss. These diligent validations ensure the migration goes according to the plan.

Key Challenges in Healthcare Cloud Migration

Foster Team Collaboration

Changes Adoption

Healthcare cloud migration can greatly enhance an organization’s capabilities, similar to any technological shift. To ensure the success and value of this investment, integrate effective organizational change management practices. 

While most healthcare organizations have embraced cloud technology, they often underutilize cloud resources in their operations. As a result, the adoption of public cloud services has shown nominal growth, with only 24 services utilized by the industry in 2023.

To address this issue, train and motivate the organization to optimize the adoption of new processes, technologies, and responsibilities while minimizing resistance. This drives the highest return on investment, success, and growth in cloud services.

Loss of Control

On-site storage gives healthcare organizations full power over data access and security. Healthcare organizations are migrating to the cloud and handing that direct control of data and infrastructure to cloud vendors.

However, healthcare providers still bear the responsibility to safeguard cloud data and meet their obligations to ensure the confidentiality and availability of sensitive healthcare information. 

Always thoroughly research the cloud service-level agreement (SLA) offerings provided by cloud service providers to ensure uninterrupted healthcare data access integrity.

Lack of Expertise 

Healthcare cloud migration expertise and technological proficiency may not always be readily available, especially given complex healthcare requirements and regulations. Healthcare cloud vendors must understand things like HIPAA or HITRUST compliance

Provide comprehensive training to existing healthcare IT professionals. Equipping them with healthcare cloud migration strategies, tools, and best practices prepares them to handle the unique challenges of healthcare cloud migration.

FAQs

Improved Patient Experience

What security frameworks are recommended for healthcare cloud environments?

Cloud security frameworks provide valuable guidance and controls for organizations to identify potential risks and implement effective security measures.

Some security frameworks enhance security when migrating healthcare data to the cloud: 

  1. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework provides a comprehensive policy framework for private sector organizations to prevent, detect, and respond to cyberattacks during the healthcare cloud migration process. 
  1. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is widely recognized in the industry for providing standardized controls and benchmarks that establish a security compliance standard. Initially focusing on on-premises systems, these benchmarks have expanded to encompass cloud technologies as well.

The CIS standard stands apart from others because practitioners developed it based on trusted and proven effective defenses in production environments, resulting in a highly effective control set.

  1. The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) offers two important frameworks for cloud security: the Security Trust Assurance and Risk (STAR) and the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM). The CSA STAR framework provides best practices and assesses the security posture of cloud service providers. It encompasses 14 domains, including application security, data security and privacy, encryption and key management, identity and access management, and virtualization security, among others.

The CCM cloud security framework provides a comprehensive control framework that aligns with CSA guidance and enhances understanding of security concepts and principles. It spans 17 domains and consists of 197 controls.

  1. ISO/IEC 27001 enables organizations to effectively manage the security of assets such as financial data, intellectual property, employee information, and third-party entrusted information. Furthermore, ISO 27017, a cloud-specific framework, complements the guidance of ISO 27001 by providing additional guidance on information security specific to the cloud. It establishes comprehensive security controls and implementation guidance for both cloud service providers and applications.

What training and support are necessary for staff to adapt to cloud-based systems?

Follow these recommended steps to ensure successful staff training for adapting to a cloud-based system:

  1. Assess the existing skills and knowledge of your staff and users regarding the cloud platform and services to identify any skill gaps. This can be done through surveys, interviews, tests, or self-assessments.
  2. Design a tailored training program that aligns with the needs of diverse learner groups and the goals of the healthcare cloud migration. Ensure the training content and delivery methods are relevant and demonstrate the value of the cloud platform. 
  3. Conduct training based on your healthcare cloud migration timeline and phases. Communicate the training plan clearly to personnel and users, providing them with the necessary resources and support to complete the training successfully. Monitor the progress and effectiveness of the training, making adjustments as needed. 
  4. Offer ongoing support through various channels such as help desks, forums, chatbots, FAQs, and feedback forms. Training is a continuous process, and providing post-training support is crucial.

What are the considerations for ensuring stakeholders are informed and supportive of the migration?

To effectively evaluate stakeholder awareness and approval:

  1. Identify the stakeholders affected by the migration process, including business users, managers, sponsors, vendors, regulators, customers, and partners. Understanding their roles, responsibilities, interests, and concerns allows for tailored communication approaches that encourage approval. 
  2. Define the scope and objectives of the cloud migration. Specify the data to be migrated, its source and target systems, as well as transformation, validation, and expected outcomes. Documenting a comprehensive migration plan that addresses assumptions, constraints, risks, and dependencies will pave the way for easier persuasion and approval.
  3. Establish a clear communication plan. Use various channels and methods, such as emails, meetings, and reports for timely progress updates and prompt addressing of feedback. 
  4. Consider all stakeholder expectations. Internal and external changes can affect scope, schedule, budget, quality, and resources. Implement a change management process while constantly updating stakeholder expectations and the migration plan.
  5. Nothing makes stakeholders support healthcare cloud migration more than delivering quality data that exceeds their expectations. Adhere to best practices for data quality management and ensure compliance with relevant policies, regulations, and guidelines for data security and privacy throughout the migration project.

Looking for a Partner to Help with Your Healthcare Cloud Migration Plan? Now You Have KMS Healthcare!

The guidance of certified experts can ensure a smooth transition to the cloud. KMS Healthcare, has more than 14 years of accomplished experience in healthcare software development, making us your ideal partner for navigating the essential steps and achieving your objectives. 

Our expert guidance can optimize your healthcare cloud migration and amplify your success. Schedule a consultation now and have our experts kick-off and guide your journey of healthcare cloud migration. 

References

Research, P. (2023). Healthcare Cloud Computing Market Size, 2022-2030. Retrieved from Precedence Research: https://www.precedenceresearch.com/healthcare-cloud-computing-market

Singh, C. (n.d.). Achieving Successful Cloud Migration in Healthcare. Retrieved from Dataversity: https://www.dataversity.net/achieving-successful-cloud-migration-in-healthcare/

Soocial. (n.d.). 18 Cloud Migration Failure Statistics 2023 (Avoid Pitfalls). Retrieved from Soocial: https://www.soocial.com/cloud-migration-failure-statistics/

Cyber, B. G. (n.d.). Healthcare Cloud Adoption: A Breakdown Of The Risk And Reward. Retrieved from Blue Goat Cyber: https://bluegoatcyber.com/blog/healthcare-cloud-adoption-a-breakdown-of-the-risk-and-reward/

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