Cloud Computing in Health Care: 5 Advantages of Cloud Computing

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The application of cloud computing in healthcare has been gaining a lot of traction recently. Whether it’s a part of the organization’s strategic vision of adopting digital transformation or a pressing need due to the changing environment. But if applied correctly, the role of cloud computing in the healthcare department can be quite prominent.

What is cloud computing?

Let’s start from the top, so what is cloud computing? In a word, it’s an on-demand delivery of computing resources, such as data storage, servers, databases, networking capabilities, applications, over the Internet (“the cloud”) by a cloud services provider. This means, that instead of having to invest in the on-premises equipment, training special staff, and then dealing with maintenance, organizations leave it to cloud providers to take care of it.   

And for a good reason, the applications are much easier to handle when they are based on serverless architecture. Paying a third party instead of investing in your own on-premises infrastructure sufficiently lowers the IT costs. At the same time, it allows scalability and at a greater price, since the company won’t need to pay for the capacity they are not using and can easily scale up or down, as needed. Another competitive advantage of the cloud – speed of innovation (I.e., building prototypes or new product features faster).   

Cloud-based IT environments vs. On-premise IT environments

But most importantly, what makes the cloud especially appealing today, its security. Compared, to on-premises, the cloud is considered to be a more secure option. A new McAfee report reveals that 52% of organizations experience better security in the cloud than on-premise IT environments. While Gartner predicts that in the event of a security issue, 95% of them will be a customer’s fault. Thus, making the cloud also the safest choice.

The driver of digital transformation

With all that cloud has to offer, it is no surprise that it’s at the forefront of digital transformation. And the global Covid pandemic has even further accelerated customer demand for cloud services.   

By the end of 2019, many tech experts had already been placing their bets on the cloud to lead the tech trends in the following year. But no one could have predicted back then just how impactful it would become in 2020.   

The agility and scalability that the cloud has to offer, came especially in handy when organizations across various industries were faced with the new reality. In the first quarter of 2020 cloud spending has reached $29 billion, which is 37% higher than over the same period in the previous year. And, of course, was nowhere near slowing down, as the unexpected mass demand for virtual work had to be backed by secure, reliable, scalable, and naturally, cost-effective off-premises services. While on the whole, the IT spending in 2020 was on the decline, the business was blooming more than ever for the cloud providers with a 19% projected growth, according to Gartner, among a total decline in other sectors of IT spending.   

Of course, even before the pandemic, the strategic shift to more flexible pay-as-you-go solutions was on the table for many companies, the Covid-19 crisis only further facilitated this shift.   

Cloud computing to make healthcare smarter

Like with many others, the application of cloud computing in healthcare is driving a positive change in numerous ways. Whether it’s to reduce costs and to be able to focus on mission-critical activities by opting for off-premises infrastructure or to tap into highly flexible and customizable services by leveraging cloud storage and computing capabilities.

Market share of  cloud computing in healthcare

According to a recent report, the market of healthcare cloud computing is projected to grow from $28.1 billion in 2020 to $64.7 billion by 2025, at 18.1% annually during the forecast period. This growth of cloud in healthcare can be attributed to numerous factors, such as digitalization, technical upgrading, improving the services and care process. But, of course, like with many other industries in 2020, the mass cloud adoption is largely dictated by the Covid-19 crisis and the new reality.   

Such features as seamless data storage and backup, as well as the ability to scale up or down, are especially valuable in these uncertain times. But perhaps one of the most valuable assets of cloud technology is in online medical consultations. Social distancing dictates its rules and patients with mild symptoms or trivial medical issues are advised against visiting hospitals and instead to opt for remote consultations via phone calls or video conferencing. This will also likely increase the medical cloud computing market.   

Survey on healthcare organisations readiness to EMR

But perhaps, not all healthcare sectors are equally ready for mass cloud adoption. A new study, “FutureCare: Cloud, Big Data, Mobile, and Social Optimize the EMR”, reveals that while many providers plan to adopt these technologies in the next two years, at the moment about 96% of healthcare organizations admit that their infrastructure is not fully prepared for the evolution of their Electronic Medical Records (EMR). But on the brighter note, the adoption has been put into motion, with two-thirds of healthcare providers already using the cloud. The majority are running their EMR applications in private clouds (49%), followed by hybrid and public cloud models (35%). The application of cloud computing can help optimize EMR and improve patient care coordination. But this is only one of the many benefits of the integration of cloud services in the healthcare sector.

5 advantages of cloud computing in healthcare  

  • It’s a cost-effective solution for storing large volumes of data   

The volumes of digital data that healthcare providers are generating are growing each year. These include Electronic Medical Records, lab tests, prescriptions, insurance claims. Cloud computing services can help effectively manage these large volumes of data. In this instance, choosing on-premise storage, might not be a sound solution. It requires sufficient investments in IT infrastructure as the data load increases. Whilst cloud computing provides larger storage as your data increase. Equally important, cloud-based analytical tools are capable of making more use of data and turn it into actionable insights.   

  • It helps deliver time-critical medical services on the market faster  

2020 has been an unprecedented year in many respects. Time was a critical factor in battling the pandemic and building new hospitals, delivering the vaccine on the market, or arranging a safe way of mass testing. Cloud computing is something to be relied on to facilitate delivering important tech solutions on the market faster. For instance, When Spoedtestcorona, a chain of testing centers offering rapid screening tests for Covid-19, was working on providing safe and affordable testing in the Netherlands and Belgium, they were faced with a challenge to deliver a cross-platform web application on a tight schedule. The app was going to minimize human interaction and make testing safe for both patients and medical personnel. By choosing Amazon Web Application services, there were able to deploy the app in the record 2-week deadline, as well as meet high compliance requirements associated with handling personal and medical data.   

  • It makes medical services widely accessible via telehealth  

Telehealth is the use of telecommunications technologies to access healthcare services remotely, enhance and manage healthcare delivery and support.    

Cloud computing solutions have numerous ways of positively impacting telehealth. The instantly scalable capabilities of the cloud come in handy in unprecedented situations, such as say a global pandemic. Presently, cloud-based telehealth is playing a crucial role in trying to keep the patient load under control by proving medical assistance to patients with mild or medium symptoms at a distance, instead of hospitals. And thus, once again reducing crowds in hospitals and infection rates.   

  • It enhances the patient experience   

With the help of cloud computing, doctors and hospitals now have the power to increase patient engagement and give them anywhere anytime access to their medical data, test results, and even doctor’s notes. This gives patients more power and control, as well as makes them more educated about their medical conditions.   

Additionally, it offers a new level of safety for patients and keeps them from being overprescribed or avoid unnecessary testing, as doctors can access the history of medical records.   

  • It improves collaboration   

And finally, the implementation of cloud solutions sufficiently boost collaboration. By storing Electronic Medical Records in the cloud, patients no longer need to have separate medical records at each doctor they visit. Instead, doctors can share information, see the results of previous interactions with other specialists and even share information with each other. This not only saves time for both patients and their doctors but also facilitates more accurate diagnosis and treatment.   

On security, privacy, and other risks of cloud computing in healthcare

With all the benefits that the cloud has to offer to healthcare, there are still some concerns. The biggest being security and privacy. Patient information is considered highly sensitive and there’s a belief that it is safer when stored on-premises compared to the cloud where it is susceptible to cyber-attacks. Additionally, patients are also concerned about the security of the data they share. Which all boils down to the necessity to maintain high-security standards.   

Another major concern – vendor stability, and how reliable they are in the long run. If a vendor goes out of business or stops offering a particular service, this puts important data at risk of being lost.   

The level of IT skills necessary to adopt cloud solutions is also on everyone’s mind. The lack of skilled IT professions is often cited as one of the barriers to cloud adoption.   

Luckily, these issues can be solved by carefully examining and choosing cloud vendors as well as skilled cloud native development service providers that have solid experience and good track records of implementing cloud solutions in the healthcare industry.   

Conclusion

The application of cloud computing in healthcare can positively impact the industry in numerous ways. From cutting down costs or reducing the time spent to offering organizations much-needed flexibility, scalability, and empowering collaboration between healthcare researchers. The latest reports on the topic show that adopting cloud solutions is something clearly on the table for medical organizations with the main obstacles being either security concerns or lack of internal technical resources. Both issues can be easily overcome by choosing the right cloud development partners.   

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