IT modernization is a trending topic among healthcare CIOs in today's rapidly changing technological landscape and cloud strategy is top of mind in any modernization concern. However, there is often confusion and misconceptions regarding the implications and value of the public cloud for health systems. Questions arise about its security, affordability, skills, and time requirements.
In a recent webinar hosted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), our Chief Innovation Officer, John McDaniel, spoke with Jeremy Marut, CEO & Co-Founder of Sublimation Health and a renowned expert in healthcare IT with over 25 years of experience in IT modernization.
Jeremy shared insights from his previous role as the Chief of Digital Modernization at a large New England health system. This system achieved a groundbreaking milestone by implementing Epic along with more than 40 mission-critical integrated applications in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud, successfully eliminating on-premises infrastructure.
The project was completed within 14 months, and Jeremy and his team developed a reference architecture for future public cloud-based implementations of Epic, which serves as a model for AWS and other healthcare organizations.
5 Cloud Migration Lessons for Health Systems
In this article, we present valuable lessons learned and the benefits of cloud migration for health systems, as discussed by Jeremy during the CHIME webinar.
Lesson 1: Choose the Right Cloud Provider
“Perhaps the most important step in cloud migration lies in selecting the right cloud provider. The chosen provider should offer native workload support, effectively handle your organization’s specific requirements, provide long-term technical support as well as a transparent roadmap for future enhancements,” said Jeremy. It’s important to choose a provider with healthcare experience, he added, ensuring a smoother migration process and better support for your cloud systems.
Be aware that the vetting of cloud providers and the finalizing of an agreement may require months or a year-plus to ensure alignment and to negotiate discounts and performance guarantees.
Lesson 2: Go Native
The choices in the market can be confusing, but Jeremy believes the short list of industry leaders that offer native services and support (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform) are superior to virtualization alternatives.
"Going native is crucial,” said Jeremy. Non-native alternatives can’t match the resiliency, scalability, automation, and scripting capabilities of a native environment. Efficient automation and system management are additional benefits of working within the native services ecosystem of your chosen cloud provider.
Lesson 3: Promote a Cloud Mindset
“Embarking on a modernization journey requires a collaborative mindset across the organization that creates understanding and support among all stakeholders. Building partnerships with key executive leaders and end users, ranging from surgeons and nurses to the finance department, strengthens the collective commitment to the migration strategy. Uniting everyone behind the vision enables organizations to make wholesale changes to the industry, overcome barriers and achieve transformative outcomes,” said Jeremy. Your vision must extend to third-party partners, he added. Convey to vendors that they must move to the cloud with your organization but that you will work collaboratively with them to achieve success.
Lesson 4: Work Closely with Financial Operations
Establishing a solid financial operations (FinOps) strategy is critical to help reduce budget costs and confirm your return on investment. Cloud migration's value lies, in part, in cloudifying off-the-shelf applications, which requires collaboration with vendors and meticulous monitoring. Automation, real-time monitoring, and budget automation ensure effective cost control. “When FinOps is tightly integrated, organizations witness increased financial efficiency and the ability to make informed, on-the-fly decisions,” noted Jeremy.
Lesson 5: Invest in Cloud Training and Certification
Will health systems need to hire new and different personnel for a cloud journey? “Not necessarily,” said Jeremy. “In fact, the team supporting your current infrastructure can usually be trained and certified to adapt to a cloud-first strategy. Technical skill sets in infrastructure, virtualization, and application virtualization are invaluable.” Empowering your infrastructure architects to be involved from the early stages and investing in their cloud knowledge accelerates the learning process.
3 Benefits of Healthcare Cloud Migration
As for benefits organizations can realize from cloud migration, Jeremy highlighted three in particular:
Benefit 1: Return on Investment (ROI) and Cost Benefits
Addressing the ever-persistent question of ROI, Jeremy acknowledges that the cloud quickly demonstrated cost savings. “The savings associated with our cloud migration strategy were undeniable. It was 30% cheaper than self-hosting right from the start. And the ability to have unlimited computing power at any time and the speed at which we could scale was invaluable.”
Benefit 2: Efficiency and Time Savings
“The astonishing speed at which results were achieved cannot be overstated,” according to Jeremy. As one example, he cited the challenge of migrating a database of 7 million archived faxes. The task would have taken months utilizing the health system’s previous hardware setup, he said. However, leveraging the cloud's native automation capabilities, his team completed the task within 72 hours at a fraction of the expected time and cost.
Benefit 3: Improved Patient Outcomes
“Cloud migration brought qualitative improvements in patient care,” said Jeremy. By liberating the IT department from mundane tasks, the staff was able to focus on innovation and development, while ensuring uninterrupted services and avoiding storage shortages during critical events. The cloud also enabled better patient experiences. For example, the integration of multilingual chatbots into Epic MyChart, powered by AWS, meant instant support, better guidance, and more personalized assistance for patients.
“Cloud migration holds tremendous potential for organizations seeking to leverage the benefits of modern technology. Transitioning to the cloud may seem challenging, but it is critical for organizations to remain competitive and improve patient care,” said Jeremy.
Healthcare IT Leaders can support your journey to the cloud. To learn more or schedule a cloud migration assessment with our experts, contact us today.