Big changes are on the horizon for the healthcare industry in 2023, especially in terms of technology infrastructure and operations transformation.
The past year has been difficult for hospitals and healthcare organizations, which are still struggling with persistent and profound shocks. Changing payment models and care delivery dynamics, ongoing staffing and supply chain issues, security threats and changing compliance requirements, inflationary shock and economic uncertainty are all compounded by the ongoing impact of the pandemic and its long tail of seemingly incessant challenges to day-to-day functioning.
That the sector continues to function under such conditions is nothing short of heroic. And with such continued pressure, a new level of hard thinking is driving a sharp demand for increased capacity and clear value for every cent of investment.
On the IT front, according to Forrester’s latest predictions, cloud technologies will play an increasingly crucial role in meeting this demand. What happens in industries is model of the cloud’s embrace, with organizations “looking for reliable means of reducing the cost of running their business, while maintaining their capacity to scale and innovate on demand… So that enterprises can achieve these advances simultaneously and achieve greater efficiency … they will lower investments in legacy systems or come up with plans to retire them.”
The general trend is not limited to healthcare, but its influence in the sector means so deep-rooted intransigence the adoption of new technologies is beginning to be seen as an existential threat. Throwing dollars at increasingly archaic legacy architecture is now a dangerous waste. As the CIO of a Florida hospital explained of Becker at the end of September, “We don’t view cloud service as a nice-to-have or an unnecessary expense because the cost is still there, whether it’s a cloud service or an expensive renewal of on-premise computing assets. We are making seismic transitions from on-premise to cloud environments to lower our risk profile with better resilience and availability.”
This type of hard thinking means that 2023 may finally be the “year of the healthcare cloud” as future-proof IT infrastructure strategies take hold. Here are some of my own predictions for how this will play out in specific cases over the next year:
- We will see significant momentum as previously “off-the-shelf” core healthcare applications, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Image Archiving and Communication System (PACS) or Vendor Neutral Archives (VNA), begin a wholesale migration to public clouds, providing dramatic lower costs for providers while increasing security, reliability and scalability.
- Health Information Exchanges/Networks (HIE/HIN) will continue HITRUST mass certification due to ONCThe recent announcement of the health data exchange requirements and getting up qualified health information network (QHIN). And with an expensive one cyberattacks in healthcare increasingly, more healthcare payers are looking to HITRUST certification as a marker of a strong security posture and to cover HIPAA, FISMA, PCI and FEDRAMP, as well as a host of other framework and compliance requirements.
- Cybersecurity needs may also lead to a large increase in managed detection and response (MDR) service subscriptions in healthcare. Gartner predictions that 50% of all companies will subscribe to an MDR service by 2025, and much of this adoption in healthcare may occur in the coming year as public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure continue to build attractive capabilities in information management Security and Events (SIEM); security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR); and extended detection and response (XDR) technologies.
- Healthcare managed service providers (MSPs) will be forced to step up by demonstrating expertise. AWS, Azure and Google have established themselves cloud service platforms in healthcare, but the partner ecosystems between them are getting tighter. For example, in 2023, competition in the Microsoft Azure MSP space will temporarily decrease as up to 40% of current Gold Partners will lose their status. The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) was retired in October and replaced by Microsoft Cloud Partner Programfeaturing six new partner designations that are exponentially more difficult to achieve and maintain than an MSP.
- Cloud-powered edge computing has come of age, and “a series of edge computing partnerships and initiatives” were a big highlight of this year’s show AWS re:Invent in November. The economy drives innovation, and as a direct result, we’ll soon begin to see a greater variety of home health devices that continuously collect and process health data, as well as new models for more distributed care delivery and using real-time actionable insights to prevent emergencies with timely interventions.
While there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the current stressors for the healthcare industry will ease as we enter 2023, there is definitely a shift in attitude when it comes to technology across the sector. Adaptability has proven paramount over the past few years and is fundamentally reshaping healthcare IT. In 2023, this shape will increasingly form around the cloud.
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