Cloud computing isn’t a brand new term for the healthcare industry. Over the last few years, the adoption of cloud technology has been increasing at a frenetic pace. As recent research has shown, the global market for cloud technologies in the healthcare industry is expected to grow by USD 25.54 billion during 2020-2024. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced this trend.
Although the pandemic impacts are still unfolding, it's already clear that not all industries will suffer the same, with some even showing promising growth. The healthcare and technology sectors seem to fall into this category, making the upcoming years very promising for the global healthcare cloud computing market.
As social distancing became the new norm, healthcare providers had to rethink the doctor-patient interactions, and trends that were previously slowly developing, like telehealth, have been sped up exponentially.
According to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan’s, telehealth adoption has been accelerated by approximately two years due to the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, the same report predicts that virtual visits market revenue will more than double for solution vendors in 2020 and nearly double again in 2021. Healthcare providers will continue to use these tools once the crisis subsides.
This new reality, together with changes in patient expectations and new payment models, have transformed technology into a crucial factor to not only improve patient care, drive efficiency, and eliminate waste, but also ensure their safety.
In this blog post, we'll analyze why cloud computing is so appealing for the healthcare industry, and how it supports the efforts to improve patient care and reduce costs.
Why Is Cloud Computing So Appealing for Healthcare?
In an industry where a significant amount of data is generated daily, the democratization of data and its remote accessibility free up providers and patients, breaking down geographical access restrictions to healthcare.
How does it do that? To better answer this question, let’s take a look at the benefits of cloud computing in the medical field.
Top 6 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Healthcare
Here are the top 6 benefits of cloud computing for healthcare.
With healthcare organizations moving towards value-based care payment methods, the collaboration between doctors, departments, and even institutions are essential. Medical providers can transfer data between each other through a cloud computing server, boosting cooperation for better treatment.
5. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
If there’s one field where AI can be intimidating, it’s in healthcare. But with tight schedules of medical professionals -- and now more than ever, as the world continues to fight a global pandemic -- and with the complexity and rise of data, AI and machine learning capabilities can be a crucial solution to support clinical decisions and, consequently, a faster time-to-treatment.
As more and more cloud platforms integrate AI and ML into their services, cloud computing can support the transition of artificial intelligence into mainstream healthcare operations and help users manage massive amounts of data.
4. Data Storage
Healthcare providers have to deal with electronic medical records, patient portals, mobile apps, and big data analytics. That's a lot of data to manage and analyze, and not all in-house equipment can store it.
Cloud computing allows healthcare institutions to store all that data while avoiding extra costs of maintaining physical servers.
Unlike conventional self-hosted models, cloud computing gives healthcare providers the flexibility to increase or decrease their data storage depending on the patients' flow.
This way, healthcare institutions can adapt their technology to peak seasons—for example, the flu season, where the volume of patients increases—without wasting time and money with the latest hardware purchases or software updates.
Here's a challenge that companies across all industries are familiar with: tight budgets, which forces them to invest in “keeping the lights on” activities over innovation.
Since cloud computing runs under a subscription model, healthcare providers can save up money from purchasing expensive systems and equipment. Plus, by adopting a cloud server, healthcare institutions can also reduce costs by using the cloud provider’s resources.
One of the most common concerns when talking about the cloud is how secure is it to have all your apps and patient data in a third-party server? Especially when organizations need to comply with regulatory frameworks like Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the protection of personal data, or the US's Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for secure data portability, or the HITRUST Alliance's CSF, an industry-mediated certifiable standard for safeguarding sensitive information.
But if done well, cloud servers help increase the security of healthcare providers. In the case of on-premises solutions, if the equipment fails, medical institutions may lose all their data and applications. A potential breach that healthcare institutions can't afford to risk.
Cloud computing not only allows its users to access the information remotely, as it includes automation of backups and disaster recovery options but in the case of a breach, healthcare providers don't lose any data and can minimize the downtime for their staff.
Most cloud providers nowadays offer security, risk management, and monitoring services to protect their users from unauthorized access and breaches. It's all about analyzing the cloud service and what it provides.
Choosing the Right Platform
Choosing the right technology provider isn't a decision that can be taken lightly. As we saw, security isn't just a nice to have feature when it comes to moving to the cloud. Currently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights is investigating over 500 reported health information breaches.
But, cloud computing opportunities are plenty, and with the proper safeguards, the fears related to data privacy and security can be mitigated.
The OutSystems platform allows you to deploy your applications on the cloud or on-premise. With a strong security offer for the cloud—OutSystems Sentry—and no vendor lock-in, OutSystems has been helping healthcare providers, such as NHS PHP and US Acute Care Solutions, accelerate their digital strategy.
Healthcare providers can use OutSystems to:
- Drive revenue growth through personalized patient experiences
- Improve clinical productivity through data transparency
- Streamline operations and deliver care beyond the hospital
- Improve patient care with enhanced analytics