Top Three Factors Driving Growth in Cloud Analytics for Healthcare

by | Nov 13, 2015

So here is a scary thought for all those who fear the move to cloud services due to cybersecurity and privacy breach concerns – Data as a Service (DaaS) is coming to your community, to your healthcare system soon. Heaven forbid you may scream, but the simple, economic benefit to risk profile will force your hand. It’s in the cards.

This fall I have traveled extensively talking to providers, payers and vendors and one of the clearest trends I see is the migration to cloud-based data/analytic services. Several vendors – Cerner, Health Catalyst, Transcend Insight, IBM, and a host of others – are now bringing such solutions to the market, typically as a multi-tenant, cloud-based service. And there are a host of vendors who have this on their product roadmap with the intent of going GA in 2016.

Organizations such as the uber-large HIE in California, Cal Index and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) are moving to provide DaaS capabilities to their constituents, leveraging the data that they have access to. In the case on BCBSA, it is an all claims database (Axis) that Blues across the country will be able to use for such things as benchmarking costs and quality.

Three critical factors are driving this:

1) Budget & Resources: The challenge of healthcare IT departments to get more $$$ for capital expenses after their mega-EHR install just sucked all the air (and budget) out of the room. DaaS provides the ability to scale demand to need and subsequently scale cost. DaaS is also priced based on usage and can be expensed, rather than a capital cost.

2) Talent recruitment: Increasingly DaaS providers are offering wrap-around services that allow provider organizations to tap top data science talent, without having to directly recruit them. This moves the DaaS model one step further to Analytics as a Service.

3) Technology: Advances in technology are enabling highly secure cloud-based services that far outpace anything a provider can pull together on their own. Couple this with recent advances such as FHIR and algorithm portability and an organization can now leverage some highly sophisticated analytic tools that would be near impossible to gain access to just a few short years ago.

I’ll add a bonus factor that is technology-related as well – visualization tools.

Having attended the recent Tableau user conference, I was astounded by the stories of business line owners being able to use Tableau for rapid queries and report generation. No longer were they waiting for someone in IT to generate a report, with subsequent latency if report doesn’t check all the boxes. Rather, business owners are directly using these powerful visualization tools, that are fairly intuitive to learn, to directly ask questions of the data, iterate on those questions and gain insights quickly. It also removes a heavy burden on many an IT department.

What to look for in 2016? Yes, it is already that time…
Increasingly, there will be a decoupling of the data warehouse/EDW and the algorithms that an organization may wish to use to improve clinical, operational or financial efficiencies. Decoupled algorithms will tap the DaaS via a FHIR API as a common web-based service call to the data store. The advantage to HCOs, an ability to leverage best-in-class algorithms and other resources that are beyond their financial and technical reach today that will enable their organization to more effectively deliver services to their community.

Don’t expect a massive move in this direction in 2016, but do watch those HCO industry leaders who are typically at the forefront of tech adoption as to their movement in this direction – much will be learned from their experiences.




  1. Sue Ann

    But if this is the future, then providers and smaller entities than Cerner, Epic or even hospital systems, who are the most interested in breaking down silos, will have NO CHANCE of innovating and making anything interoperable.

    I agree, there ARE a lot of advantages, but it strikes me as selling your birthright for a bowl of soup.

    • John

      Sue Ann,
      I don’t believe it is quite that dire and in actuality, cloud-based analytic services will actually allow smaller HCOs to more easily tap some pretty powerful analytic resources and talent, far beyond what they may be able to source locally.

      Do agree, there is always the danger of more silos, as if we do not have enough already. But even this may be countered by the growing acceptance and use of newer standards such as FHIR.

  2. Robert Robitaille

    These are really workable! Thanks for the nice post!
    In this field I think, cloud technology is kinda necessary thing but on the other hand it is it is dangerous thing. Because of often cyber attacks, none of the cloud services can guarantee tight protection. I know that the most reliable services like Ideals use layered security system.

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