Cloud Computing in Healthcare: Best Practices for Life Sciences and Healthcare

By Flux7 Labs
February 27, 2015


Unique cloud strategies to gain business advantage

Cloud computing in healthcare is driving a new era of change.

As traditional health providers strive to develop strategies for using cloud technology to create the efficiencies and agility seen in other businesses, digital health and cloud native solution providers are managing a delicate balance of innovation, growth and the need for mature, secure infrastructure.

Healthcare start-ups are hot right now and have recently been one of the most popular investments venture capitalists have made. In 2014, there was $4.1 billion of venture financing for health start-ups, and this trend looks certain to continue. 2015 is poised to be another big year for healthcare start-ups, as they reach new markets and offer new models of delivery.

One reasons for this is because start-ups are helping to herald a technology revolution in the health sector. This is aided by a new generation of entrepreneurs in young, established businesses who are clearly passionate about healthcare and tech. They’re eager to usher in a new generation of healthcare in the cloud that offers the agility, security, stability, scalability and real-time response needed to solve health challenges.

In established enterprises, it is often an innovation center that will broach the spectre of cloud computing. These offshoots are able to use cloud infrastructure, often outside of the business applications and structure, to give them the agility they need to create new solutions and means of delivery.

For start-ups, organizations like our local Austin Technology Incubator have dedicated programs focused on human health – medical devices, diagnostics, research tools, and therapeutics. Their team has deep expertise in the regulatory pathways and reimbursement landscapes that start-ups must navigate.

Similarly, navigating cloud infrastructure is not without challenges. While most organizations are stretched to understand the nuances of cloud architecture and the evolving, but still nebulous, area of DevOps, healthcare organizations must contend with the added layer of complexity from regulatory requirements like HIPAA and HITECH.

In the past year, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of healthcare organizations seeking to move to or optimize their existing Amazon Web Services public cloud infrastructure. Our experience in helping these organizations has underscored that there is no single “right way” to create HIPAA compliant cloud infrastructure for a healthcare organization. One size does not fit all. The unique needs of the business must be taken into account. Yet, there are common challenges and best practices that can be leveraged to quickly establish the infrastructure that meets the unique business needs of a healthcare or life sciences business.

Common business needs among healthcare organizations include:


  • High Performance Computing – HPC for Big Data analytics is spurring a new and exciting era of precision and personalized medicine and leading to new discoveries.

  • Scalability – As healthcare providers bring on institutional customers or find they need to meet the demands of informed consumers and more services are delivered directly, the need to scale arises.

  • Security and Compliance – Long an argument against moving to the cloud, many organizations are finding that HIPAA compliant clouds with built-in security services can, when architected correctly, provide more security than can be provided on-premise.

  • Application Development Frameworks – While the importance of application development may be obvious for digital health businesses, traditional healthcare providers are starting to look for new delivery mechanisms, too. Web based solutions and healthcare mobile app development are becoming expected components of health service delivery.

  • Self-Managing Infrastructure – For many, controlling their IT provides them the freedom to make the changes they need, when they need it, without reliance on third parties that can lead to increased costs and inefficient processes.

The right cloud architecture can meet these needs and grow with the organization’s needs. And, by implementing a DevOps approach, using automation and incorporating best practices into the architecture itself, considerable efficiencies can be achieved, minimizing the need to bring on additional development and operations staff.

Read how one healthcare organization moved to the AWS healthcare cloud as a Heroku alternative.

Read the Case Study