How Long will Hospitals Maintain On Premise DataCenters?

With the 2018 HIMSS conference just around the weekend – this seems like a great time to revisit an article I saw roughly a year ago in HealthcareIT News.

The article’s premise is that within five years – the majority of hospitals will no longer have their own on premise data center.  The migration that we have seen with the success of companies like Amazon and the AWS product line, coupled with that by Microsoft Azure and others strongly suggests that the premise may be correct.

I’ve often wondered why hospitals have been slow to move to the cloud.  Oh sure, they’ve dipped their toes in the water with DR and or Redundancy planning.  Maybe some cold storage applications – but patient records?  Hardly.  Until this past year – which is why I find this article so interesting.

This HIMSS conference we’re going to witness the reveal of EPIC’s new lower priced version of it’s product, Sonnet.  The EPIC announcement last December was the light bulb for me that suddenly went on.  Of course you need your EHR vendor to push such initiatives – given that it’s their product that will run in the cloud.  But in reality, with so much hardware still on premise – not sure that hospitals were ready to trash the investment.  Having said that – I’m hearing more and more of our clients say that they are seriously beginning to evaluate where the cloud can have a greater impact.

Storage options that work wonderfully with virtualized servers, such as a Nutanix / Acropolis Hypervisor /Rubrik stack.  Now that’s some pretty niffy stuff….and quite an alternative from what I can tell vs. a traditional EMC on premise SAN or NAS option.

This will be a very interesting year and one in which we will, in my humble opinion see more and more aspects of HIT move to the cloud.  It only makes sense the move will speed up given the push by EHR vendors like EPIC and Cerner to push cloud offerings.

Some hospital systems, are harnessing cloud infrastructure services to innovate in ways they could not if they needed to build or buy adequate storage and compute power.

Several years ago it was ‘you’re crazy if you think we’ll put patient data in the cloud,'” says James Lawson, CSO at Verge Health.  “Today, it’s ‘you’re crazy if you think you’re going to put patient data in my servers.'”

And while Lawson said a wholesale shift to the cloud may take longer than five years, he explained that once the move gains steam, inert hospitals risk falling behind technologically.

“When you’re the last man standing with a data center, and your competitors are using that capital to generate revenue, the upside of moving to the cloud will become crystal clear,” Lawson added.

It remains to be seen if, as the prognosticator say, hospital data centers may be obsolete within five years, but my hunch is not quite THAT quickly….maybe ten.  Just saying….but global trends help make this prediction easier.

I hope to run into some of you at HIMSS next week in Las Vegas.  Enjoy and travel safe.