Key Challenges and Opportunities for Cloud Technology in Health Care: Semistructured Interview Study

Kathrin Cresswell, Andrés Domínguez Hernández, Robin Williams, Aziz Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The use of cloud computing (involving storage and processing of data on the internet) in health care has increasingly been highlighted as having great potential in facilitating data-driven innovations. Although some provider organizations are reaping the benefits of using cloud providers to store and process their data, others are lagging behind.

OBJECTIVE: We aim to explore the existing challenges and barriers to the use of cloud computing in health care settings and investigate how perceived risks can be addressed.

METHODS: We conducted a qualitative case study of cloud computing in health care settings, interviewing a range of individuals with perspectives on supply, implementation, adoption, and integration of cloud technology. Data were collected through a series of in-depth semistructured interviews exploring current applications, implementation approaches, challenges encountered, and visions for the future. The interviews were transcribed and thematically analyzed using NVivo 12 (QSR International). We coded the data based on a sociotechnical coding framework developed in related work.

RESULTS: We interviewed 23 individuals between September 2020 and November 2020, including professionals working across major cloud providers, health care provider organizations, innovators, small and medium-sized software vendors, and academic institutions. The participants were united by a common vision of a cloud-enabled ecosystem of applications and by drivers surrounding data-driven innovation. The identified barriers to progress included the cost of data migration and skill gaps to implement cloud technologies within provider organizations, the cultural shift required to move to externally hosted services, a lack of user pull as many benefits were not visible to those providing frontline care, and a lack of interoperability standards and central regulations.

CONCLUSIONS: Implementations need to be viewed as a digitally enabled transformation of services, driven by skill development, organizational change management, and user engagement, to facilitate the implementation and exploitation of cloud-based infrastructures and to maximize returns on investment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31246
Pages (from-to)e31246
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2022


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