3 Lessons for Driving Cloud Use in Healthcare.

healthcare industry


Healthcare delivery changed dramatically due to Covid-19 as both hospitals and primary care forged ahead despite unprecedented demand. At the same time, patients are now more digitally engaged at all stages of their healthcare journey, which means they’re expecting an increasingly seamless experience that balances speed and convenience with face-to-face support when needed. 

Public cloud is playing an increasingly important role in helping healthcare providers deliver that balance, from public and community health through to e-health and smart hospitals. Nordcloud has been working hand in hand with providers to help them leverage cloud in the right way, at the right time, to achieve their targets.

Here are 3 key lessons from these experiences, which you can use to drive cloud use cost-effectively and sustainably in your organisation.


Lesson 1: Don’t spend too long on strategy – benchmark a quarter

This lesson is about avoiding analysis paralysis and driving fast results. 

For example, with one major European public healthcare organisation, we set a target of formulating a strategy and being ready to start Stage 1 execution within 3 months. We achieved this by defining exactly what was needed to start focused, iterative execution. 

What didn’t we do? Define a detailed, multi-year plan that would end up needing to change anyway.

To define the strategy, we conducted framework-driven assessment of 3 areas:

  • Capability readiness – to inform change management, capability development  and upskilling requirements
  • Workloads and applications – to understand the complex IT estate and outline the remaining cloud migration journey
  • Business case – to understand return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) improvements

The resulting strategy then contained key elements to focus the cloud journey around measurable, achievable outcomes:

  • Cloud vision – to define what the organisation wanted to achieve with cloud
  • Cloud mission – linking that vision to overall objectives for the healthcare body
  • Themes for change – highlighting key areas where public cloud can deliver benefits aligned with the government long-term healthcare planning
  • High-level goals – for what a successful healthcare cloud journey looks like in practice
  • Outcomes – quantifying those goals in terms of savings and sustainability
  • High-level 5-year roadmap – with the focus areas for each year
  • Cost and effort – what’s required to make those outcomes a reality
  • Achievements for the last fiscal year – what success looks like for the first year after the period impacted by pandemic 

Everyone aligned around this strategic framework, so we could hit the ground running in working towards those first-year achievements.


Lesson 2: Think about incremental innovation and waves of cloud transformation

Complex transformation and digitalisation projects don’t work well in large public sector organisations. They may look nice on paper, but they tend to end up in media headlines decrying wasted taxpayer money and demoralised staff.

Our approach with healthcare organisations about defining the big goals – but translating them into small, achievable and accountable steps. For example, a modernisation is split into 15 projects instead of one big one. 

This means there’s a big focus on incremental delivery. With one healthcare customer, we all embraced agile ways of working, with short stand-ups 3 times per week. This meant we could quickly identify and solve challenges so as to deliver faster results.

These experiences show that an incremental approach enables you to:

  • Start innovating immediately – after all, pandemics don’t wait for you to have your perfect technical foundation and delivery model for fast service delivery
  • Enable elasticity and scaling – because unpredictable demands and peak volumes require elasticity and right-sizing capabilities
  • Build a community around digitalisation and cloud – so you drive engagement with transformation
  • Do more with less – because the public sector faces budget pressures

A prime example is work we’ve done around a healthcare service database that underpins a range of patient-facing services. Pandemic pressures demonstrated that the database needed innovation to support spikes in use and new requirements. Now, we’re executing a progressive cloud migration and modernisation so the database can better support changing demand. The project delivers rapid savings and benefits – while minimising risk to an essential service.


Lesson 3: Focus on scaling pockets of excellence

Covid-19 proved that the healthcare organisations can be exceptionally agile in deploying new services and capabilities. What would have previously taken 6 months had to be done in 6 weeks. In days, platforms had to handle 10 times the volume. 

The right digitalisation approach harnesses these capabilities and expands them outwards – using cloud technologies and operating models to make them comfortably business-as-usual instead of all-hands-to-the-pump crisis operations. It also includes a robust underpinning, with proactive managed services and a cost-optimised approach to buying capacity.

We therefore recommend framing healthcare cloud strategies and delivery models around 3 themes:

  • Repeatability
  • Reusability
  • Scalability

It’s all about driving digitalisation through pockets of excellence that can progressively expand within the organisation’s ecosystem, repeating proven processes and reusing tried-and-tested models instead of reinventing the wheel each time.


What should be next on your cloud agenda?

Let’s discuss how you can balance quick wins and sustainable value by driving cloud use in the right way – from migration and modernisation to efficient capacity purchasing and managed services.