A marketing professional with an interest in the latest technology developments
Cloud computing is rapidly being adopted by organizations around the globe. From large-scale manufacturing and financial institutions to small businesses, the adoption of the cloud has sped up due to the COVID-19 pandemic as work from home, virtual meetings, and online collaboration have become the norm.
The healthcare industry can benefit from cloud computing. Although cloud computing isn’t something new to the healthcare industry, the industry is yet to fully utilize the potential of the cloud. Post-COVID the adoption of cloud is expected to rise. According to recent research, the global market of cloud computing for the health care sector will grow by USD 25.4 Billion between 2020-2024 with a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 24%.
Ways That Healthcare Can Benefit From Adopting Cloud Solutions
1. Lowering the Costs
As cloud computing services provide on-demand processing power and storage capabilities, hospitals are saved from having to buy and maintain their own servers, upgrade them and bear the expense of IT employees. With a pay-as-you-go model, there are no upfront costs and hospitals will only pay for resources they will use. When hospitals want to upscale their cloud resources they can easily do so without any extra costs for equipment and such.
2. Big Data
The healthcare industry generates a lot of data every day. From patient health records, test results, prescription information, and insurance data to the application of IoT devices in healthcare. This means that data is being generated every day that meets the 3v criteria of big data which are velocity, variety, and volume. In order to manage and utilize such data cloud solutions can be conveniently implemented.
3. Stronger Collaboration
Cloud computing allows for quick and efficient collaboration of data between multiple stakeholders in the healthcare system whatever the point of origin of the data may be. This collaboration is also known as interoperability. This collaboration is crucial in case of medical emergencies where fast access to past medical history and other data is crucial. In the case of different geographical locations, doctors can easily exchange data when working on a patient.
Interoperability isn’t just limited to doctors and patients. Other participants in the healthcare industry, such as pharmacies, insurance companies, and banks can get access to data for smooth operations such as insurance claim payments or giving out timely prescriptions.
4. AI and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence is rapidly being adopted in the healthcare industry. Machine learning algorithms are being developed to diagnose diseases, develop new drugs and automate many processes. The development and implementation of machine learning algorithms require a lot of computing power and large volumes of data. Cloud Computing services can solve the problem of computing power and data storage as hospitals would not need to invest in new IT resources. Hospitals can easily adopt a cloud computing service according to their needs and easily scale it in the future if they need to.
A growing area in healthcare is telehealth. Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information through telecommunication technologies. It should not be confused with telemedicine. Telemedicine is about delivering clinical services through a remote location, whereas telehealth covers a wide range of health-related services such as education, training and remotely monitoring vital signs of a patient.
Cloud services can provide a platform for the deployment of telehealth systems that will reach patients in a remote location. Remotely treating and monitoring patients is a safe and convenient solution in the current covid-19 pandemic. The load on hospital premises can be reduced and social distancing is maintained.
Currently, telehealth systems do exist that can be licensed and put online on the cloud saving the time it would take to develop it from scratch.
6. Analytics and Business Intelligence
Analytics and BI in healthcare will allow users to analyze and visualize critical data such as the number of patients, waiting time of patients, bed occupancy rate, etc. By understanding and evaluating the data, important decisions can be made that will improve not only the service delivered to patients but also how efficiently resources are utilized. For instance, reducing patient waiting time for an appointment or personnel planning. Informative dashboards can be made and deployed to end-users so that they can make informed decisions.
The cloud can effectively deliver analytics and B.I solutions. Costs can be saved on hardware, there will be less implementation time as compared to setting up an analytics system on-site, and the service can be easily accessed from anywhere or any device through an internet connection.
The Concerns of Adopting Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Given that the number of cyberattacks is increasing globally the security of data is a topic of concern. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the adoption of the cloud, forcing cloud service providers such as Amazon and Microsoft to constantly invest in the security of their platforms to minimize the risk of any security breach.
Occasional downtimes happen when the service is not available. Although the downtime is mostly minimal, having a contingency plan for such a situation is an industry best practice.
Switching Cloud Providers
Switching from one vendor to another might be a little challenging. The differences between the platform of cloud providers could pose some difficulties when migrating. This phenomenon is known as vendor lock-in. In order to avoid this situation, flexibility should be kept in mind when implementing a cloud solution.
Given how the healthcare industry is evolving post-covid with a great emphasis on scalability, executing services remotely and efficient management of available resources, there is no doubt that opting for cloud-based solutions is a worthy option. As cloud computing continues to evolve with new emerging technologies such as 5G, industries opting for cloud solutions will evolve with it.
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