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    Cloud Computing, Healthcare IT may Finally Intersect

    Healthcare organizations have been slower to adopt new technologies, including cloud computing and mobile solutions. A recent Level 3 Communications study, for instance, found that less than a quarter of healthcare CIOs and IT professionals use cloud-based applications at work, although that number could rise as more organizations implement electronic health record systems.

    "The expansion of network infrastructure that we anticipate will allow healthcare organizations to store massive amounts of patient information securely," said Karl Strohmeyer, group vice president at Level 3 Communications. "Providers can access digitized information from any location in real time, ultimately resulting in substantial efficiencies in patient care."

    Cloud computing IT service companies will likely receive increased business from healthcare agencies in the near future. According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the healthcare cloud market is projected to achieve a 21.3 percent compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2018, increasing from $1.8 billion in 2011 to nearly $7 billion by the end of that time frame.

    While full-scale cloud computing adoption might not take place among healthcare IT departments, a recent Internap survey indicated that hybrid cloud solutions could be gaining traction in the industry. The study – which polled decision-makers in the financial, retail, media and entertainment industries, in addition to healthcare – found that nearly 60 percent of respondents favor implementing hybrid cloud solutions.

    Raj Dutt, senior vice president of technology at Internap, suggested that IT professionals favor these environments for their "security, control and customization advantages" – a sentiment that David Linthicum, CEO of Blue Mountain Labs, supported in his recent blog post for InfoWorld.

    Linthicum pointed to the declining healthcare budgets as the top motivating factor behind healthcare cloud adoption. At the same time, he stressed how overblown security and privacy concerns are right now, noting that some organizations have actually improved on these issues after moving information to the cloud.