In recent years, the utilization of cloud computing in the healthcare industry has gained significant momentum. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system heavily relied on cloud computing applications. Medical establishments, as well as healthcare professionals, have leveraged the benefits of advanced IT infrastructure.
Cloud computing has brought several advantages to the healthcare industry, including enhanced privacy, reduced costs, and improved patient care through remote operation and collaboration. The implementation of cloud computing in healthcare has opened up new avenues to enhance the functionality of IT systems.
Before you decide to seek cloud technology consulting, let’s understand what cloud computing is and how it is shaping the future of the healthcare industry!
What is Cloud Computing in Healthcare?
In the healthcare industry, cloud computing refers to the use of remote servers accessed through the internet to store, manage and process medical information. This type of data storage provides convenience to medical professionals and institutions by allowing them to store large amounts of data securely on online servers that are typically maintained by IT experts. The implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Mandate has driven medical companies to adopt cloud-based solutions to store and secure their patient records. Even healthcare organizations that initially had no plans of moving their data centers to the cloud have also started to adopt cloud-based solutions.
Top Advantages of Adopting Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Listed below are some of the advantages of using cloud computing for healthcare industry:
Cost-effective Data Storage
The healthcare industry generates vast amounts of digital data each year, including insurance claims, lab test results, EMRs, and prescriptions. Cloud technology is beneficial in managing this data efficiently. With the increase in data storage capacity offered by cloud computing, cloud-based analytical tools can process this data more effectively and turn it into valuable insights.
Growth of Telemedicine
The adoption of cloud computing in the medical industry has led to the rapid growth of telemedicine. Cloud-based applications and telehealth systems facilitate the sharing of healthcare data, offer patients health insurance during treatment, and improve accessibility. Additionally, many apps now offer advanced features like virtual analysis of medication consumption and video conferencing for doctor appointments, enabling better medical care via telemedicine.
Improved Patient Experience
Cloud computing provides doctors with real-time access to lab reports, medical records, and doctors’ notes, allowing them to involve patients in their healthcare more effectively. Patients can manage their health more precisely with better information, and they no longer have to undergo unnecessary tests or take additional medications.
Cloud technologies in healthcare have improved collaboration among healthcare professionals. The implementation of cloud-based EMR systems means that patients no longer need to carry their medical records when visiting a doctor. Doctors can also share data, review previous consultations with other healthcare professionals, and collaborate to make more accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions.
Interoperability in healthcare refers to creating data integrations across the healthcare system, irrespective of the data storage source. Cloud solutions enable interoperability in healthcare by making patients’ data accessible for flexible distribution and insights to facilitate healthcare delivery. Medical professionals can access patients’ medical data collected from various sources, distribute it among primary stakeholders, and deliver on-time protocols.
Types of Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Different types of cloud computing in healthcare can be categorized based on their deployment and distribution models.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): In this model, IT infrastructure is provided by the provider, and clients deploy their apps and operating systems.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): In this model, the provider provides an operating system and IT infrastructure, and clients deploy their apps.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): In this model, providers offer apps, an operating system, IT infrastructure, and other elements inside a user-friendly platform.
- Community Cloud: In this model, a specific group with similar preferences and goals can use the cloud technology.
- Private Cloud: This model is intended for the exclusive use of a single client.
- Hybrid Cloud: This model integrates multiple clouds with various access options.
- Public Cloud: In this model, cloud technology is accessible to the general public.
Potential Risks of Cloud Computing in Healthcare
While cloud computing provides numerous benefits to the healthcare industry, there are still some potential risks that need to be considered.
Limited Scope of Cloud Solutions
The implementation of cloud computing alone may not guarantee enhanced efficiency and productivity across the entire healthcare industry. To maximize the benefits of this technology, healthcare providers must also utilize other innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and data management solutions.
Shortage of Skilled Professionals
There is a shortage of skilled professionals who possess the necessary expertise in healthcare software development and cloud technology. This shortage can pose a significant challenge in integrating new technologies in the healthcare industry.
Data security is one of the primary reasons why healthcare organizations adopt cloud computing. However, storing data in the cloud can also present potential security risks. For instance, due to the shared nature of cloud infrastructure, data from different companies may be stored on the same server, making it difficult to individualize the security protocols for each organization.
Challenges in Implementing New Technologies
The transition from legacy systems to cloud computing requires a complete overhaul of the existing workflow processes. Healthcare providers must train their staff to adapt to new technologies and demonstrate how they can improve daily tasks. This can be a significant challenge and may require additional time and resources.
Tips to Mitigate Risks When Adopting Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Adopting healthcare cloud computing involves a collaborative effort between a healthcare organization and a technology provider. To minimize the risks associated with cloud technologies, there are some measures you can take.
Define Your Goals
The first step is to identify the need for cloud systems in your healthcare business. Without understanding your requirements, you won’t be able to determine which areas need cloud solutions. Some reasons for implementing cloud technologies are:
- Cost savings
- Compliance management
- Improved security
- Better data protection and backup
Having clear goals helps you communicate with your technology provider, who can then offer customized cloud computing solutions that meet your business requirements.
Identify the Areas to Move to the Cloud
Although you may have several processes to move to the cloud, it’s essential to understand which specific functions require this enhancement. Analyze your healthcare organization’s current pipeline and identify the obstacles that hinder quality medical delivery or impede your healthcare team’s performance.
Once you have assessed your company’s processes, prioritize the areas that will yield the most benefits and move them to the cloud immediately. This approach will help you communicate better with the technology vendor and determine the precise time required for the technical delivery.
Determine the Costs Involved
Moving to the cloud incurs certain costs. Determine if your business can afford these investments. The primary expenses include paying for technical experts involved in the entire transfer process. You can:
- Outsource the work to offshore technical vendors: This is a reliable option that offers security, convenience, and reasonable rates. However, be prepared for potential language barriers.
- Create an in-house technical team: This is a complex process as you need to hire employees and pay a high salary to each specialist. However, you can control the entire transfer process simultaneously.
- Hire freelancers: This is the most cost-effective option, but it’s not advisable to share a medical organization’s data with freelancers.