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Cloud Computing in Healthcare. Opportunities & Challenges

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Covid-19 pandemic made us realize the importance of cloud computing in healthcare services. With complete lockdown and travelling restrictions across the world, cloud computing helped doctors, pathologists, phlebotomists, and patients in one way or the other. While doctors gave tele-consultations and telemedicines, phlebotomists used mobile apps to collect samples in real-time, and patients checked their reports online from their home. Such is the power of cloud computing in healthcare.

In recent times, there has been a shift in the storage, generation, consumption, and sharing of data in the field of healthcare. From traditional data storage to healthcare data digitization, the healthcare industry has come a long way.

According to the survey report by Monroe Partner, one-third of the healthcare companies that were present in the survey have already half of their data in the cloud premises. So, healthcare has been the fastest to adopt cloud computing. The widespread cloud computing healthcare adoption goes beyond data on cloud architecture. It is using this technology to make its operations more efficient and optimize its workflow. As per the research report by BCC, the global cloud computing healthcare market is expected to reach $35 billion by 2022, showing a growth rate of 11.6%.

How is Cloud Computing Changing the Healthcare Industry?

Cloud computing has proved to be highly beneficial for healthcare organizations. It has cut down on operational expenses and has allowed providers to deliver personalized and high-quality care.

Let’s take a look at the opportunities that cloud computing is opening up for healthcare.

1. Lowers the Cost

The basic benefit of cloud computing is its availability of computer resources on demand, such as computing power and data storage. Healthcare providers and hospitals have been able to free themselves from the requirement to buy servers and hardware outrightly. Cloud storage of data doesn’t require any up-front charges. So, you are just paying for the resources you are using.

Timely escalations in healthcare are very important so that doctors can save patient lives. This is where cloud computing comes to the rescue as key parameters for patient health are automated and alerts are sent to the ICU staff as soon as the parameters reach a certain level. Not only this, cloud computing systems are equally important to store patient data from EMRs and various health wearables or apps. It helps to scale it in future as well as keeps the overall cost lower than other methods.

2. Access to High Powered Analytics

Healthcare data, unstructured or structured, is the greatest asset. Patient data from various sources can be collected and computed in the cloud. Artificial Intelligence and Big Data analytics on patient data stored in the cloud can boost medical research. Using the powerful computing power of the cloud, it becomes more feasible to process large datasets.

Analyzing patient data paves the way for formulating personalized patient care plans. It also ensures that important patient details are on record.

3. Easy Interoperability

The goal of interoperability is to establish data integration across the healthcare system, irrespective of the point of storage or origin. Thus, cloud adoption fuels interoperability. Patient data is available for gaining insight and distribution to facilitate adequate healthcare planning and delivery.

With cloud computing, it gets easier for providers to get easy access to collated patient data from different sources, share it with the required people, and give out the right treatments. It can also reduce the distance between specialists to let them review cases and provide opinions, regardless of the geographical limitations.

4. Data Ownership of Patients

Cloud computing will democratize data and will give patients better control over their health records. It improves the participation of patients in decisions related to their own health. So, it helps them make an informed decision.

Medical images and patient records are archived and retrieved much easily when you store data on the cloud. While cloud security is a rising concern among users, the reliability of cloud data storage is much higher. An increase in system uptime will reduce data redundancy.

5. Telemedicine

No doubt, remote accessibility is the biggest advantage of cloud computing. When combined with healthcare, it can improve several healthcare-related functions, such as post-hospitalization care plans, telemedicine, and virtual medication adherence. It can enhance access to healthcare services with the help of telehealth.

Using telemedicine apps makes it convenient to provide adequate healthcare delivery and upgrade patient experience. Cloud-based telehealth applications and systems enable easy sharing of healthcare data, offer healthcare coverage, and improve accessibility during a patient’s treatment, preventive, or recovery phase.

Challenges of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Moving your existing systems to the cloud isn’t an overnight process. There are various factors to be considered before doing so because certain risks of cloud computing in healthcare are always there if not implemented properly. Thus, a focus-driven approach is required to mitigate those risks and challenges. However, it’s important to first understand the current challenges related to cloud computing in healthcare.

  1. Data Security and HIPAA Compliance

The major challenge while implementing cloud computing in healthcare is how to keep your data secure and be HIPAA compliant. Patient’s medical history is something which is very sensitive and confidential. Any breach in your data security which causes patient medical data to be leaked out is not acceptable at all. However, information related to medical data isn’t available to a single person. It is circulated between different parties and systems which are authorized to store or access such information. So, a tight integration among such systems is very important and healthcare providers should choose the best cloud computing partner to have high data security.

Also, healthcare applications and data have to comply with different data regulation laws, such as GDPR, HITECH, and HIPAA. It extends to cloud-hosted data. Ascertaining compliance with cloud-hosted data is something that healthcare providers have to look out for when they are moving to the cloud.

2. System Downtime

Another one of the risks of cloud computing in healthcare is system downtime. Cloud provides more reliability, but occasional downtimes are common. If you have proper planning done, it is possible to overcome the downtime in case it occurs. Design for failure as it is taken to be the best practice when you build cloud applications.

Future of Cloud Computing In Healthcare

There is no doubt that in the coming years cloud computing will take over the existing systems in healthcare because of various advantages. Cloud computing acts as a single source of information for all the healthcare facilities such as storing EMR records, pathology results, previous medical history of the patient, CT scans, and prescribed medicines. As the medical information is readily available, it becomes easy for the healthcare providers to provide excellent medical facilities in a timely manner.

Cloud computing also amps up patient engagement with their healthcare plans. This is because they have access to their own healthcare data.

The immediate challenges of interoperability can be mitigated through deeper cloud adoption. In case the newfound willingness to collaborate persists even when the pandemic fades away and the system keeps with security regulations and requirements, the healthcare organizations have to learn to innovate speedily while being conscious of the various moving parts.

Ease access and sharing of data is a crucial foundation when it comes to building a healthcare system that works for the present-day on-demand needs. So, regardless of the challenges, the future of cloud computing in healthcare promises several advantages to healthcare providers, patients, startups, and the healthcare industry at large. And, 2020, the year of the pandemic, is going to go down in history as the year, which proved this.

ResolveData can Help with Your Cloud Computing Needs

If you are looking for an effective cloud computing solution for your healthcare organization, your search ends here. ResolveData solutions help you shift, lift, and modernize workloads to the cloud. The company works with all sizes of healthcare institutions. With our team of experts, you can unlock the power of your data and develop a more efficient system.