Optimizing State Healthcare in the Cloud
Similar to organizations in other sectors, state health IT organizations move to the cloud for a variety of reasons. Many transition to the cloud in support of Cloud First policies that mandate agencies maximize capacity utilization, improve IT flexibility and responsiveness, and reduce cost. While this is the case for some, other organizations move to take advantage of the inherent benefits the cloud offers, such as increased speed and agility, cost savings, on-demand scalability, and the ability to move to a “pay as you go” usage model. For state health organizations, speed and on-demand scalability remain key benefits in supporting a community and user base that surges and spikes based on cyclical healthcare enrollment, submission and payment cycles.
Is the cloud really cheaper and how is operating in the cloud different?
Many organizations experience real cost savings once they’ve moved to the cloud, but need to consider up-front migration costs related to re-architecting applications and standing up new environments. Most organizations realize cost savings only when they successfully move to a “pay for usage” model and scale their cloud infrastructure up and down in real time to meet demand, such as during annual health plan eligibility enrollment or healthcare related reporting or reimbursement submission periods. Because cloud resources can be provisioned and de-provisioned on demand and in real time, IT environments can be right-sized to reflect true operating costs, versus idling or “going dark” when the infrastructure isn’t used to its full capacity. This is one of biggest differences between working in a traditional data center and working in a cloud environment – the ability to access resources in real time and only pay for resources when they are required.
What are some hindrances in moving to the cloud?
So why do state health organizations resist moving to the cloud? The reasons aren’t so different from other industries: fear of change, security concerns and a perceived lack of control. However, once organizations begin operating in the cloud and become comfortable with a new governance and operating model, they quickly see the benefits and associated cost efficiencies.
Not only can operating in the cloud be more cost-effective, it fundamentally changes the buying habits of state health organizations. By moving away from buying large hardware platforms to buying “cloud services,” state health organizations make the fundamental shift from focusing on large hardware purchases and worrying about annual tech refreshes, to focusing on essential health services and IT governance. Since the cloud provides better visibility into IT capacity and usage, it helps organizations provision resources more dynamically. What could take months in a traditional data center, now takes minutes. With access to real time data, minimized costs and increased agility, state health organizations can provide better, timelier services to their health customers.
This article was contributed by Scott Rutler, Senior Director, General Dynamics Health Solutions. General Dynamics Health Solutions also presented at the 2016 State Healthcare IT Connect Summit on the topic of Protecting the State of Your Program Integrity Initaitives
Jala Attia, Sr. Program Director, Program Integrity Solutions, General Dynamics Health Solutions
Stephen A. Smith, MBA, Senior Director, General Dynamics Health Solutions
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