Cloud computing solutions have been used heavily in multiple industries, but healthcare has been a bit slower to adopt due to the compliance and security concerns of the technology. However, MarketsandMarkets recently reported that the cloud in healthcare would be a $5.4 billion market by 2017, so it appears that the industry will be turning to the cloud in a big way over the next few years.

SAP's Lindsey Nelson wrote on Business 2 Community about a scenario of one worker living in New York and needing to get an MRI, blood work and physicals due to bad headaches. She said a doctor's office in New York could have this information in the cloud, meaning that no matter where the patient moves across the country, other offices have that information on hand.

"If both your doctors utilized cloud computing, there would be no need to wait for the MRI Image to be shipped from one coast to the next," she wrote. "There would be no need for your doctors to get on the phone because all their notes with all your records were quickly transferred, in turn providing you with the actual treatment you need in real time."

Nelson said 2013 will be the year when cloud computing and the heatlhcare industry converge. This means more doctor's offices, hospitals and patients will spend less time in testing and waiting rooms, getting images back and realizing reductions in hardware and software costs.

Big shift from last year
According to the MarketsandMarkets report, 4 percent of the healthcare industry used cloud computing services in 2011. Now, clinical cloud applications now include electronic health records, order entries and software for imaging and pharmacy uses. There are also non clinical applications for billing, cycle management and claims management that can help the back office of hospitals work more efficiently.

"The flip side of this advantage is that healthcare data has specific requirements such as security, confidentiality, availability to authorized users, traceability of access, reversibility of data and long-term preservation," the report stated.

For years, regulations got in the way of cloud adoption in healthcare, the report said. Now, organizations have realized that private and hybrid clouds can be ease security and compliance concerns if these solutions deal with data correctly.