What is the core competency of a hospital or clinic? Is it information technology (IT)? Should a healthcare organization employ large teams of IT specialists to manage e-mail, file, and storage systems? Shouldn’t the core competency of a hospital or clinic be patient care? Wouldn’t it be better to have IT focus mainly on projects that improve care quality, clinical workflow, and the patient experience instead of fussing with e-mail systems and business productivity solutions? Of course it would.
Perhaps this is why healthcare organizations around the world are turning to cloud-based solutions like Office 365 for their e-mail and business productivity needs. For one thing, cloud solutions significantly simplify the deployment and management of such solutions compared to having them installed and managed on premises. Office 365 is sold as a subscription. The hospital or clinic only pays for what it uses. Product upgrades and security updates are deployed via the cloud-based service as soon as they become available. This not only simplifies life for IT staff, but ensures that healthcare workers always have the latest and most secure versions of the productivity solutions they need readily at hand. With cloud solutions, hospitals and clinics also save a lot of money; money that is frankly much better spent on patient care.
Perhaps the latest example of a very large and complex organization moving to Office 365 comes from one of my favorite places in the world—Australia. Specifically, I’m speaking of a decision by the Queensland government there to roll out Microsoft Office 365 to nearly 150,000 staff including about 75,000 people working in Queensland health. According to a report published in CIO Magazine, the move is expected to save the QLD Government $13.7 million over the next 3 years.
Over the past year or so, I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the willingness of healthcare organizations to move some of their business and clinical workloads to the cloud. One of the drivers has certainly been a need to save money. But beyond saving dollars, healthcare organizations have come to understand that data is actually safer and more secure in a cloud-based service like Microsoft Office 356 than in their own, on-premises data centers. They have also come to appreciate that in a time of constrained finances, their IT budget is better spent on projects and services that are directly related to patient care.
I have no doubt that over the next few years, most healthcare organizations will move whatever can be moved to the cloud. The business case is just too compelling. Click here to learn more about Office 365 and why so many hospitals and clinics are making the switch to cloud-based, subscription services.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft
In my experience most healthcare orgs are running old outdated versions of Exchange and throw good money after bad in order to keep it up and running. Office 365 is pretty awesome and I'm a big fan. However, even a compelling cost-savings measure like O365 tends to get lost when the primary focus of IT in hospitals is feeding the EMR monster and not focusing on infrastructure.
Thanks for your comment. Feeding the EMR monster is, I fear, a necessary evil. But the EMR/HIS is only foundational. It alone won't transform health and healthcare. How EMR/HIS data provides insight to care quality, how IT helps caregivers and patients communicate and collaborate, how tech is used to deliver information and services in new, less costly and convenient ways. Those are the things that will transform healthcare and move us toward the triple aim.