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When healthcare companies do move toward the cloud, the rationale is usually in step with the market at large. Users are looking to the cloud as a means of establishing greater efficiency, according to Pete Zarras, president of CloudStrategies, a Cedar Knolls, N.J.-based integrator.
"We see them looking for the core business value of the cloud to do more with less, reduce cost, be more predictable, and have better disaster recovery and security," he said. "Historically, we've been tripped up a little by how the different clients interpret and apply various regulations, and sometimes people get squeamish about taking the data outside of their four walls. So we've had some level of success with technologies that provide encryption for data at rest."
Zarras added that in many cases, channel partners still need to help their customers to establish a reasonable comfort level around the use of cloud-based services. But, this becomes easier to accomplish after the customer has positive experiences upon which to build.
"That's a classic consulting engagement philosophy," he said. "We find the greatest success when we engage in a business conversation first and understand their objectives and what they're trying to do. We identify business issues, business goals, and business pain points and then start to look at the technology. When we do it this way, we find that everything flows very smoothly because, by the time you start talking about the technology, you have your eye on the ball about why you are doing things the way you want to do them. Whenever you start the discussion with technology that you want to sell, your motivation may be out of whack."
Within the potential issues around compliance, security also continues to be an important topic of discussion.
"I think they should be even a more concerned about security than they already are," said Jack Gerbs, president of Quanexus, a Dayton, Ohio-based integrator. "They approach security on a check box basis, but they're not really digging in and truly understanding the risk that lies behind the checkbox. They need to talk to security companies about how to control access and secure their networks. They need to take a closer look at who has access to which files, and there should be audit trails on who is accessing which files. They just need to be more careful, otherwise they are far more likely to have a HIPAA breach on their hands."