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Application Migration for Healthcare – Best Practices

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There is an interesting report by Accenture on the benefits of leveraging cloud computing for healthcare.  The report states that “Given the diverse, fragmented and highly dispersed nature of the healthcare industry and value chain, the effect of cloud computing on healthcare will be magnified by the convergence between cloud, mobility and data analytics. It is through the combination of these three elements that many of the most game-changing impacts will emerge.”

The migration to the cloud by those in the healthcare industry remains steady, even since Accenture published this report.  Healthcare organizations find that the cloud provides value to organizations within a vertical that has notoriously tight budgets, and provides a very high level of care, driven by IT.

Of course, the path to leveraging cloud-based platforms is not as straightforward as most of those who build and deploy systems in the healthcare vertical believe it to be.  There are issues to consider that are specific to the world of healthcare, and best practices are beginning to emerge.  Let’s cover a few of the more important best practices for cloud migration within the healthcare vertical.  Keep in mind this is a high-level overview of healthcare best practices, and each requires more detailed activities than a few paragraphs can cover.  With that said:

Best practice: Prioritize applications that should move to the cloud.

Not all applications should move to cloud-based platforms, and those applications slated to move to cloud should not do so at the same time.  Healthcare organizations should prioritize the applications that are good candidates for the cloud, and place them in order of migration importance.

The order should be based upon an application’s ability to provide the most value to the organization when running from cloud-based platforms, both public and private.  Also, make sure to consider risk issues, as well as understand the properties of the applications, and thus the likely success of running well on cloud-based technology.

Best practice: Focus on security and privacy the right way.

While many in the world of healthcare IT often push back on cloud computing due to perceptions that the technology is largely unsecured, the issues are much more complex.  You need to understand your exact security requirements, in terms of data protection, audits, etc., and any regulations that are applicable to a specific application you’re looking to move to the cloud.

This means mapping each application that is a candidate for migration to cloud computing to a set of security, governance, and compliance issues that are specific to that application.  Thus, you have the ability to understand the application requirements, and how the migration and re-development effort to the cloud should impact application operations.

Best practice: Leverage tools, but don’t overdo it.

You’ve probably heard the old saying: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”  It’s much more applicable in the world of application migration to the cloud, especially in the healthcare vertical.

There are many tools that do analysis of application code, and can even cull through the database structure to determine the best path for application migration to a cloud-based platform.  However, you need to spend the time vetting the tools before you fill up your shopping cart with them, hoping for miracles to occur.  There are no miracles in the world of cloud migration.  Make sure you pick and choose your tools, or other technology, wisely.

As more healthcare organizations make their way to the cloud, we’ll understand more about best practices in this vertical, typically using information generated by the mistakes of others.  However, perhaps it’s not a good time to sit on the sidelines.  The value that cloud computing brings to healthcare is just too compelling to ignore.


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