The First Phase of Cloud Migration in Healthcare

In healthcare, the discussion is no longer about if cloud migration will happen, but rather how institutions will effectively migrate. Government agencies and organizations are no exception.

The rise of electronic medical records, an increased demand for telemedicine, as well as a growing population of patients make it critical that healthcare agencies pursue the cloud. Cloud infrastructures like Amazon Web Services, or AWS, provide many benefits. This includes the cost efficiency, security, scalability and even regulatory compliance that these organizations need to continue serving patients.

But cloud migration is not a one-and-done objective for any organization. Moving an entire healthcare service to a new IT environment means deciding how to migrate all of its subsystems – including compute, storage, and networking functions — and identifying the right components, capabilities, and tools for the job.

Healthcare organizations need a multi-step strategy that assesses risks and considers all the possibilities that cloud might offer. In our recent course, we outline five phases that healthcare services should complete to effectively migrate workloads to cloud environments.

Let’s start with the first phase: Discovery. Like we mentioned, many healthcare organizations have common drivers for transitioning to the cloud.

But the way that each agency achieves those benefits will vary. Not all workloads are suited to the cloud so it’s critical to investigate current infrastructure and systems to determine what is appropriate to migrate.

During discovery, agencies and institutions should itemize their applications, as well as define their users and system usage.

Network configurations and interdependencies, plus integration with external systems, are important factors to consider. These may be impacted during migration, so it’s crucial to understand every connection in the current environment.

Especially for healthcare organizations, it’s also important to consider regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (or HIPAA) that directly impact operations. Healthcare providers’ responsibilities and liabilities do not vanish in the cloud. In fact, healthcare organizations must retain ownership and an active role guarding electronic protected health information, whether it is stored on-premise or in the cloud.

Even after discovery, agencies should regularly review the latest revisions to HIPAA guidelines and mandates about data privacy and security.

Once your organization has completed discovery, you can move to the next phases of migration planning. To learn what those phases are, as well as how to achieve them at your organization, take our recent 10-minute course at GovLoop Academy: 5 Steps to Successful Cloud Migration.

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Avatar photo Nicole Blake Johnson

Complying with regulations and addressing security risks are big issues in healthcare — and government in general. It’s neat to see healthcare agencies become more open to the possibilities of cloud and the benefits.