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The volume of worldwide healthcare data is expected to grow 50 times from 2012 to 2020, according to Rock Health. An IDC Health Insights’ Clinical Mobility Buyer Behavior Study estimates that most clinical workers use an average of 2.7 mobile devices above and beyond their multiuser workstations. And patients want access to providers in new ways—49 percent of patients surveyed by Price Waterhouse Coopers would like to communicate with health professionals via online chat or a web portal.

How can health organizations navigate this era of ever-more data and devices and ever-increasing patient expectations? Not to mention, how can they achieve industry imperatives for higher quality care, better access, and lower costs, in the face of limited resources? Many are answering these questions by taking advantage of the efficiency, scale, and flexibility of cloud services. In fact, 71 percent of providers were deploying or planned to deploy cloud computing solutions, according to KLAS Research.

As Stefan Wijnen previously wrote, moving to the cloud need not be an all-or-nothing proposition, but rather a step-by-step journey. Read his blog about the first step: identifying cloud services that will help you achieve your mission. Once you’ve identified those priorities, the next step is to define and create an implementation plan.

As you progress on your journey to the cloud, start with the projects with high value and return but low complexity, and finish with more complex projects.

For example, many health organizations, such as Hôpital Montfort in Ottawa, Canada, see quick results with email and collaboration in the cloud. Or you may want to improve your management of the many devices out there sooner rather than later by managing BYOD from the cloud. These are just a couple of examples of areas where you can reap productivity and cost-saving results relatively quickly and easily.

Next up, you may want to take advantage of the cloud for analytics, machine learning, and a strategy for the Internet of Things. And ultimately, when you’re ready, you’ll likely want to take advantage of the scale, connectivity, and flexibility of the cloud for key systems such as your EMR and CRM. Use your own unique priorities and needs to guide you each step of the way.

In order to take this step-by-step approach, it’s vital to work with a vendor that enables you to move to the cloud at your own pace—and on your own terms. At Microsoft we offer an adaptable infrastructure and complete range of public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions to provide health organizations choice and flexibility. We also offer a common set of management, identity, virtualization, and developer tools that can be used across cloud and on-premises solutions to streamline maintenance and provide connected, consistent experiences. Plus, your employees are probably already familiar with Microsoft interfaces, and our solutions enable them to have the same user experience across cloud and on-premises tools.

Wherever you are on your journey to the cloud, the great news is that now there are a wide range of solutions that can be implemented quickly and easily—and incrementally—so efficiency can be improved and value gained virtually right away and where most needed.

We’ll continue to share more on how you can have a smooth transition to the cloud and how we continue to earn our customers trust in our cloud solutions, so check back here soon. We’d also love to hear your “trip reports” regarding your journey to the cloud. What productivity, care coordination, and cost-savings benefits are you achieving using cloud services? Let us know via email, Facebook, or Twitter.