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Kiran Patel

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October 12, 2021

Epic in the Cloud: Why Move Epic to the Cloud? And Why Now?

Epic Cloud, Epic in Azure

Why Move Epic Infrastructure to the Cloud? And Why Now?

For healthcare organizations looking to save money, optimize workflows and create space to focus on improving patient care, Epic in the cloud may be exactly the solution you are searching for. To get a better understanding of why so many healthcare organizations are starting to make the move to the cloud, we spoke to Aaron Nienhuis, one of OST’s Principal Architects with years of experience helping organizations design, implement, and migrate healthcare IT infrastructures. We asked Nienhuis to begin by defining the basics, explaining the benefits, describing how the migration process works and outlining OST’s unique approach.

What is Epic?

Epic is an electronic health record (EHR) system. For most hospitals, it’s the central point that manages all the processes and workflows around providing patient care. Epic has many components, including a variety of modules that hospitals can buy and utilize. In the end, most customers purchase Epic to consolidate their tech stack and get rid of as many different tools and platforms as possible. Ideally, hospital systems end up with fewer applications to manage in the long run. It’s not uncommon for a hospital IT system to manage well over 300 applications, so the more a healthcare organization can consolidate, the nicer it is for their IT team, care providers and other professionals.

Why should moving Epic to the cloud be a priority for healthcare institutions?

Epic’s suite of applications requires significant investments in technology infrastructure. Every time Epic releases a new version, it increases the amount of infrastructure that it requires. Keeping up with Epic’s rate of infrastructure growth is extremely challenging both from technical management standpoint as well as financially. It’s becoming more and more impractical for many hospital systems to maintain their Epic infrastructure lifecycles and some have begun to sacrifice critical capabilities such as disaster recovery infrastructure.

Most organizations buy IT assets with a planned lifecycle of three to five years. They leverage capital depreciation models on those assets over that time period for tax and financial benefits. With Epic, IT teams may try to plan what capacity they’ll need for three to five years. But Epic may require you to add capacity to maintain functionality and performance levels. And when teams run up against the limits of their capacity too early, they’re stuck with sudden, unplanned purchases. Many Epic customers will say they are constantly struggling with unbudgeted infrastructure additions as they try to keep pace with the technology.

By moving Epic to a cloud platform, you don’t have to pre-allocate infrastructure to meet the needs of the application. Instead, as application demands grow, you can purchase additional infrastructure to go along with it, on-demand. Using the cloud, your organization can increase resources to meet shifting application requirements rather than trying to pre-plan and pre-buy years in advance. This is why these services are referred to as “consumption based”: you only pay for what you consume at the moment.

What is the greatest benefit of having your EHR system in the cloud?

One of the primary benefits of moving Epic to the cloud is cost savings. The second is increased efficiency. When an institution can remove activities they’ve been burdened with in the past, from maintenance to budgeting to trying to forecast what their infrastructure architecture needs will be, they can focus on improving patient care.

In addition, for hospitals, a data center takes up a lot of real estate. Often, that space could be turned into a revenue-generating space like an operating room or lab environment.

Another benefit is that moving Epic to the cloud allows IT services to work faster. Yes, we still need to do some architecture to ensure cloud resources are allocated properly. But once that’s done, we can start allocating those resources; we don’t have to go out and get quotes and work through the entire procurement process.


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Epic in the Cloud


What does the typical Epic cloud migration process look like?

If you choose to work with OST for moving Epic to the cloud, we have developed a proprietary Cloud Foundation that includes all the essentials your healthcare organization needs. We host built-in training throughout the Cloud Foundation process to help you, our customer, get up to speed. The Cloud Foundation builds all the necessary infrastructure in Azure with security safeguards in place. With the Cloud Foundation deployed, it becomes an extension of your healthcare organization’s existing data center, but virtually. We can then build and test a proof-of-concept workload and, once successful, move on to the full migration.

OST can provide a fully managed Epic infrastructure. We can also remove all the stress and uncertainty of operating in the cloud with a managed services plan. Our knowledgeable, certified staff can manage the new environment for you in the cloud. And if your IT team grows or gains new specialization, you can make a choice at any time to take on that work.

Ultimately, the best value for most of our customers is to procure the whole Epic-in-the-cloud environment as a service with OST taking care of everything. We will work with you to tailor your engagement to fully leverage both your team and OST’s expertise.

Our goal is your success, and we’re dedicated to meeting our clients where they are to build a relationship that drives meaningful value.

I’m ready to get started with an Epic migration to the cloud! Where do I begin?

Getting started is easy. OST can help you design an Epic solution that’s aligned to your unique business and technical goals, that costs less and that offers more flexibility! Schedule a meeting with one of our experts today to start the conversation.

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About the Author

Kiran Sood Patel is a content creator at OST with a strong background as a writer and communications professional. She previously served as managing editor of an online community journalism platform in Grand Rapids. And she brings years of additional newspaper reporting experience covering issues in education, business, technology, city government and more. She is passionate about diversity and appreciates sharing her background as an Indian American woman with others.