Cloud or Bust
March 28, 2016
What the clamor toward cloud-architected technology means for behavioral health.
Technology is always in a state of transition, and the latest offerings in cloud technology are just another example. A combination of frustration over the limitations of web-hosted legacy systems and the massive potential for value and efficiency have motivated IT organizations to migrate to cloud-architected business solutions in droves. Cloud technology has not only shown what is possible when we can freely and extensibly leverage technology to support enterprise, it has given us an awareness of the massive, untapped potential for future innovation.
Evidence of this mass inundation to “the cloud” is the sense of urgency over the recruitment of talent in order to build and maintain true cloud infrastructure. Tech companies (new, old, and startup) are participating in an arms race of sorts to find and keep the right people for the job. It isn’t hard to see why; cloud systems are connected to everything, from mobile devices to wind turbines and jet engines, and the vast networks of computers that make up these computing clouds provide the much needed computing muscle by all operating like one big machine.
While these are welcome developments in the world of technology, it can mean two very important things for behavioral health care:
1. Industry leaders should expect to see a migration to cloud-architected technology solutions.
Cloud systems have extensible data models, offer pay-per-resources-used plans, and support multi-tenancy. Trillions of interconnected machines, software, and services provide on-demand computing power needed for intelligent, efficient applications. Cloud-architected platforms enable highly extensible data models and a robust layer to quickly configure workflows to solve for business opportunities such as integrated care, care management, and care collaboration. This is particularly accommodating to the behavioral healthcare model, and it is backed by an unprecedented record of reliability—both in terms of server uptime and security.
2. Organizations that don’t adopt cloud technology should expect more of the same problems.
Legacy systems have reached the capacity of what they can offer the industry, and innovators have abandoned the idea that today’s problems can still be solved with yesterday’s technology. Without innovators to build, create, or problem solve, it’s reasonable to expect that any shortcomings in pre-cloud technology that have not been addressed at this point probably won’t be. In other words, organizations using software and infrastructure that is not cloud architected can expect more of the exact same issues: long development cycles, expensive custom solutions, extensibility hurdles, difficult (if not impossible) data extraction and management, and elevated costs resulting from monolithic server tenancy.
Technology is moving forward in the cloud, and the structure that supports legacy systems will decline over time. Powered by cloud technology, the IT universe will continue to see new markets and innovation emerge in place of the systems of yesteryear. For behavioral healthcare organizations using pre-cloud technology, it isn’t simply a matter of how much value the cloud can provide—it is also worth considering the impact of industry resources migrating away from the legacy systems they rely upon.