Artificial intelligence (AI), security, and sustainability are driving the need for information technology (IT) infrastructure modernization in healthcare, Nutanix said Thursday.

The hybrid multicloud computing firm said in a statement that its sixth annual global Healthcare Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) survey and research report showed that hybrid multicloud adoption is surging among healthcare organizations as the majority are significantly increasing investments in IT modernization.

The report revealed that the use of hybrid multicloud models in healthcare is forecasted to double over the next one to three years.

However, it said IT decision-makers at healthcare organizations are facing new pressures to modernize IT infrastructures to effectively harness the power of AI, mitigate security risks, and be more sustainable.

It is noted that healthcare organizations handle large amounts of personal health information (PHI) that can be complex to manage with the need to remain compliant with regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

As organizations in all industries continue to grapple with the complexities of moving applications and data across environments, Nutanix said hybrid multicloud solutions provide key benefits to healthcare organizations including helping them simplify operations, deliver better patient outcomes, and improve clinician productivity.

The Healthcare ECI report also found the adoption of the hybrid multicloud operating model in healthcare organizations has increased by 10 percentage points compared to last year, jumping from 6 percent to 16 percent.

While deployment trailed other industries last year, healthcare is now on par with all industries (15 percent).

“Healthcare organizations have traditionally lagged behind in technology adoption, yet we’ve seen an impressive increase in modernization in the last year alone – driven by AI and the need for data portability,” said Scott Ragsdale, Sr. Director, Sales, U.S. Healthcare at Nutanix.

“Across industries, 80 percent of Healthcare ECI respondents are planning to invest in IT modernization, with 85 percent planning to increase their investments specifically to support AI,

“Healthcare organizations are no different, focusing on future-proofing IT infrastructure today to prepare for the needs of tomorrow – including AI and sustainability,” he added.

According to the report, healthcare organizations have accelerated their use of multiple IT operating models, and both their current and planned mixed IT deployments now surpass those of the global response pool.

Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of ECI respondents in healthcare organizations reported using multiple IT models this year, compared to 53 percent last year.

Last year, healthcare was behind the average across industries by seven percentage points and now outpaces it by 13 points.

When healthcare organizations are investing in IT infrastructure, workload portability and AI support are top of mind—and next year’s budgets reflect these priorities, said the report.

It noted that ECI respondents in the healthcare sector identified AI and the flexibility to move workloads back and forth across private and public cloud infrastructure as the most important factor driving purchasing decisions at 17 percent each followed in importance by the performance potential of the infrastructure (14 percent) and how well it lends itself to successful data sovereignty and privacy management (14 percent).

Meanwhile, security and compliance fluctuations and concerns are the biggest reasons enterprises relocate their applications to a different infrastructure.

An overwhelming majority of healthcare respondents (98 percent) and across industries (95 percent) responded that they moved one or more applications in the past 12 months driving the need in their organizations for simple and flexible inter-cloud workload and application portability.

This is largely being fueled by shifting security-related requirements according to respondents.

The report also showed AI has broad applicability in the healthcare sector, and respondents consider it both a priority and a challenge.

ECI respondents shared that support for AI tied as the top IT infrastructure purchase criterion among healthcare organizations.

In addition, implementing AI strategies came in second when healthcare respondents ranked what they considered the biggest priority for their organizations’ Chief Investment Officers, Chief Technology Officers, and leadership (17 percent).

It is noted that 84 percent of healthcare organizations said they were increasing investments in AI strategy in the coming year.

The same group, however, largely considered running AI to be a challenge (82 percent).

The top-ranked challenges in healthcare IT departments are related to multi- environment operations, security, and sustainability.

When asked to name their number one data management challenge today, an equal percentage of healthcare ECI respondents identified complying with data storage/usage guidelines and linking data across disparate environments (20 percent) as the top factor.

Other data security issues, including combating ransomware and ensuring data privacy, were each cited by the next greatest number of respondents (17 percent).

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