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


Comments (5)

  1. Great post…keep it up

    I would like to see more information


  2. I am investigating the role and microsofts work progress in health informatics. I too have been on the COO level both in Industry and Healthcare systems, and see the only out to the US health crisis resting in this growing area. Is this work being done in the research triangle and if so is there someone there I can speak to for some course developement I am doing for Quinnipiac University. Thank you  

  3. Bill, I think you are right…the future is in the cloud…assuming we can address security issues (CYBERWAR by Richard Clarke) which are daunting and threaten the entire IT infrastructure.

    But that aside…innovation in healthcare IT will still come from new companies and entrepreneurs.

    For example:

    I am aware of a company that has made a significant break-thru with respect to ontological engineering and disease control that is worth note.

    It’s a small privately held SaaS development company based in Colorado has developed and deployed an ontologically-based, GIS integrated disease management decision support system in Africa to fight malaria. This is a significant system that was funded by the global combatants of this disease and the system can be rapidly customized for deployment to other disease environments…especially if you are talking about vector-borne disease.

    The company, <a href="">TerraFrame</a&gt; TerraFrame is interested in leveraging its technology to fight global diseases and is happy to entertain creative conversations to that effect.

    For more information please contact Ray Hutchins at

  4. Euro VPS says:

    The cloud hosting benefits the users from various angles. It’s scalability and cost efficient is the commonly known advantages. But major disadvantage with cloud hosting is: Security. You no longer control the physical location of your data in cloud hosting.

  5. hlthblog says:

    Euro VPS.  Thanks for your comment.  Keep in mind that cloud computing includes "private cloud" scenarios developed for government or large enterprise customers when there is a need to keep data on-site or within the borders of a country or region.

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