For cloud technology companies that are brave enough to tackle the healthcare industry, it’s a perfect storm — there are major challenges and opportunities.

At CloudBeat, the conference focused on how real customers are transitioning to the cloud, healthcare technology experts gathered to discuss moving from paper-based to electronic systems.

For IT leads at hospitals and health providers, now is the time for action. “There is market pressure, pressure from physicians and audience groups,” said Scott Whyte, Vice President of IT Connectivity at Dignity Health, the fifth largest hospital provider in the nation.

By 2014, Obamacare mandates that hospitals and practitioners who have been maintaining paper records to switch to electronic medical records.

It will not be a simple transition. “The healthcare industry is fragmented, complex and paper-based,” said Darin Brannan, president and CEO of ClearDATA, a secure provider of e-mail and cloud computing technologies that take the risk out of mail and app hosting.

The key hurdles for companies like ClearDATA include security and breaches, compliance and regulatory issues, and the existing legacy infrastructure systems.

Brannan was joined on stage by Whyte, who selected ClearDATA five years ago. He recalled choosing ClearData from myriad providers because they “got healthcare.” “They understood the compliance issues that are unique to the industry,” explained Whyte. “They delivered value and executed quickly and we started learning the value of the cloud.”

According to these experts, the leading cloud providers are not adequately serving the healthcare vertical. “AWS [Amazon Web Services] will give you the tools to make yourself HIPPA compliant but that isn’t really an option,” said Brannan. “We are HIPPA compliant to the same level as a hospital.” To ensure that the security is adequate, Dignity Health performed deep privacy checks and legal reviews.

Security is an enduring problem in healthcare — The Office for Civil Rights reported that (the “OCR”), from 2009, 477 breaches affecting 500 people or more were reported. In total, the health records of 20,970,222 people were breached, according to the OCR’s website.Read more about how healthcare is moving to the cloud here.

Healthcare IT is hot: As the market matures, we can expect that more mainstream cloud providers will introduce solutions specifically designed for this vertical.

Article originally published November 28, 2012 at: