Bringing Healthcare Into the Cloud-Driven Future
A phased approach focused on quick wins and culture change to connect clinical data, architect it for IT, migrate systems to the cloud, and leverage AI to improve care.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
The healthcare industry has lagged nearly a decade behind other sectors in adopting cutting-edge technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and advanced data analytics. Impact Advisors is at the forefront of helping healthcare organizations modernize their technology stacks through platforms like Oracle Health Cloud.
During the Oracle Health Conference, I recently had an insightful discussion with Sandeep Sabharwal, Managing Partner at Impact Advisors, about their technical approach to guiding healthcare companies through much-needed cloud transformations and digital innovation initiatives. Sabharwal provided unique perspectives on migrating critical clinical systems to the cloud, leveraging AI to improve care quality, centralizing data, and the profound cultural shifts required for healthcare to become genuinely modern digital enterprises.
The Long Road to Modernizing Clinical Systems
A major challenge Impact Advisors helps clients navigate is transitioning legacy on-premises clinical systems to nimble, resilient, and scalable cloud architectures. Sabharwal emphasized their phased “keep-the-lights-on while innovating” approach, balanced across three horizons:
First Horizon: Optimize On-Premises Systems
The priority is optimizing the performance, reliability, and costs of existing on-premises systems – the current revenue engine that keeps hospitals functioning today. Without this foundation, clients lack the resources to progress.
Second Horizon: Target Quick Cloud Wins
Next, Impact Advisors helps clients identify low-risk cloud opportunities that can deliver quick, tangible wins. These smaller pilot projects build confidence in the cloud and capital to fund larger legacy migrations.
Third Horizon: Cloud Migration Endgame
The ultimate end goal is lifting and shifting core electronic health record (EHR), billing, pharmacy, analytics, and other clinical apps onto cost-efficient, scalable cloud platforms like Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). But this happens iteratively.
Rather than a risky single “big bang” project, Impact Advisors finds what Sabharwal calls “the lowest hanging fruit” to show the cloud’s advantages in bite-sized doses. They help clients crawl before running an enterprise-wide migration. The ultimate goal is getting data-intensive mainstream clinical workloads migrated to managed cloud infrastructure.
The Human Factor: Changing Mindsets to Enable Change
Beyond technical factors, Sabharwal stressed cultural readiness and executive buy-in are essential ingredients for successful cloud adoptions. Impact Advisors makes the case for cloud benefits through detailed risk analysis presentations tailored for business leaders beyond just the CIO and CISO.
They encourage allocating serious capital investments to modernize security, integrate systems, address compliance, and other non-negotiable issues mandatory for transitioning to the public cloud. But Sabharwal observed the tipping point is often visionary leadership with a cloud-first mindset, not beholden to legacy systems.
Navigating the Cloud Landscape: Multi vs. Hybrid vs. Private
With more cloud-hesitant healthcare clients, Impact Advisors takes a “multi-cloud first, hybrid second, and private cloud last” strategic approach. Sabharwal noted very few healthcare organizations have the in-house expertise to build and manage reliable private clouds effectively.
Hybrid models allow matching specific workloads to different hyperscalers’ strengths – for example, Google Cloud for analytics and ML, Azure for productivity tools, and OCI for databases and apps. Adopting multi-cloud prevents vendor lock-in and isolates risk.
But Sabharwal said fully cloud-native deployments on managed public infrastructure ultimately offer healthcare companies the most agility, innovation, elasticity, and savings. Here Oracle Cloud Infrastructure seeks to disrupt through performance, security, pricing, and healthcare domain expertise.
Unlocking AI’s Nearly Limitless Potential to Transform Healthcare
During our discussion, Sabharwal acknowledged most healthcare AI adoption remains basic – rules-based automation of manual workflows like call centres and billing. But he shared some cutting-edge implementations where AI/ML is starting to enhance patient experiences and outcomes:
AI-Assisted Clinical Decisions: AI as a real-time “co-pilot” surfacing relevant data points and suggestions to caregivers at the point of care based on full clinical history.
Personalized Medicine: AI analyzing diverse patient datasets including genomics to enable ultra-personalized treatment plans and potentially life-saving early diagnosis.
Operational Efficiency: AI optimizing hospital logistics around scheduling, transfers, staff assignments, inventory/supply chain, and more.
But Sabharwal cautioned that realizing AI’s full promise requires first assembling, cleaning, normalizing, and organizing vast caches of patient data currently trapped in disparate silos.
Healthcare AI is only as strong as the data behind it.
Architecting Healthcare Data for the AI Era
To feed and train today’s powerful but data-hungry AI algorithms, Impact Advisors first helps aggregate and integrate clients’ disjointed healthcare data from EHRs, claims, clinical trial systems, wearables, and more into unified cloud data platforms and lakes using tools like OCI Object Storage. Strong governance and security controls are implemented to manage compliance risks.
They then apply techniques like knowledge graphs, metadata management, and ontologies to overcome healthcare data’s extreme diversity and lack of standards. This meticulous data foundation work is essential for AI/ML tools from Oracle and partners to derive insights that measurably improve health outcomes.
The Path Forward: Listening, Learning, Leading With Empathy
I concluded our conversation by asking Sabharwal what advice he offers technology firms seeking to serve the sprawling, complex healthcare sector. He stressed that the best outcomes happen when technologists listen first rather than immediately prescribing solutions.
Sabharwal recommended deeply learning each healthcare client’s unique needs and culture before strategizing how to guide them toward the digital future. With healthcare’s life-saving stakes, he urged approaching modernization with great empathy, wisdom, and vision to drive meaningful progress matching the industry's nobility.
Healthcare’s digital revolution remains in its early chapters, but organizations like Impact Advisors and Oracle Health Cloud are laying the critical groundwork for cloud adoption, AI, and true evidence-driven care. They aim to deliver both near-term wins and lasting transformations that will tangibly uplift the quality of life for us all.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.