Sutter Health CTO: Cloud computing offers ‘huge upside’ for big data initiatives

Sutter Health, a 24-hospital system in Northern California, generates a lot of data. Like many other providers, it’s looking for ways to deploy analytics to generate actionable information for clinicians.

Those big data initiatives are virtually impossible with outdated data centers, Sutter Health Chief Technology Officer Wes Wright told CIO Insight. Cloud computing offers far more flexibility for data analytics software to take on a larger role.

“The cloud offers us a level of elasticity that we could never achieve in our own data centers, and that, in turn, gives us the freedom to do things like spin up and spin down Hadoop clusters as demand dictates,” Wright said.

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Healthcare was slow to adopt cloud computing because of privacy concerns, but Wright says it’s clear by now that “the upside is huge.” Over the next two years, he expects to leverage the cloud to push precision medicine initiatives by combining genomic data with clinical records. And as more health systems show they are having success with cloud computing, the rest of the industry will follow suit.

“It’s going to allow healthcare IT to experiment with more innovative, cutting-edge projects like big data because scale in the cloud is so elastic,” he said.

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