Health IT Future is in the Cloud

Crounse_Headshot If you are the CIO or CMIO of a healthcare enterprise, I feel your pain.  You see, I’ve walked in your shoes.  Prior to coming to Microsoft I served as the VP CIO and CMIO of a community hospital.  I did that for about seven years before I was invited to join Microsoft.  Although eight years have now passed since I left my hospital days, many of the challenges you face are just as acute now as they were back then; fragmented silos of information, ridiculously expensive inflexible legacy clinical information systems, exponential growth of data storage requirements, challenges connecting to your partners and community clinicians, endless project requests from your clinical and administrative users.  And now you’ve got additional mandates and timelines from the federal government because of ARRA HITECH and health reform initiatives.

image I’ve have also shared the pain you experience in the boardroom when budgets are being approved.  You need more hardware, software and solutions to keep the enterprise humming. Your radiologists have their eyes on a 128 slice CT-scanner and your surgeons can’t do without one of those advanced surgical robots.  The ROI on their stuff is pretty clear.  The ROI on your stuff is a bit murkier.  I once had a hospital administrator tell me that as far as he was concerned, IT was just a refrigerator in the basement; necessary but certainly not anything he wanted to think about.

image Let’s face it.  The business of your hospital is caring for patients not running data centers, pulling cable, and installing hardware and software.  How many times have I heard a hospital CEO or clinical leader say, “I just want IT that works.  I want to plug it in like cable TV and subscribe to the applications I need”.

While I can’t tell you that the IT you need to run your enterprise is quite that simple today, the signs that the industry is moving in that direction are everywhere.  Here at Microsoft, we are totally focused on a vision that will step by step move more things to the cloud.  You will have IT infrastructure and applications that are hosted in the cloud.  They will scale up and down to meet your demand as it changes.  Depending on the applications and your unique data privacy and security requirements, some of what you’ll use will be hosted in the public cloud.  Some will be in a private cloud that you may host.  Some cloud services may be provided by a Microsoft partner or systems integrator.  imageBut in almost every scenario, the real estate and capital expenditures required will be less and easier to manage than what you have in place today.

In coming weeks I’ll tell you more about the kinds of cloud services and solutions you can expect from Microsoft and our partners both today and into the future.  Let’s just say in five years time, your world could be quite different than it is today.  And that’s not just pie in the sky.

Bill Crounse, MD    Senior Director, Worldwide Health    Microsoft


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