By Abhinav Shashank, Innovaccer
Rising healthcare promises have been tied to cloud technology in the most recent tech-talks of the town. While the majority of care providers are not holding their breath due to previous disappointments, we wanted to translate the often-vague statements made into discrete simplified processes for healthcare.
Healthcare is riding a wave of digital transformation that has brought about revolutionary processes of data management and care delivery. Moving from paper-based records to a digital format, the first wave took us from disconnected facility-based care to integrated smart care with increased coordination and population health activity. The second wave enabled better patient experience with omni-channel communications and interoperable data sharing applications. Empowering patients and clinicians with analytics, the recent wave has health organizations leveraging real-time data-driven solutions, artificial intelligence, and cloud services to align with the culture of preventive and wellness-centric care.
The cloud will be central to future digital transformations in healthcare. What is uncertain for many is what specific, new cloud services will be developed and why are healthcare organizations now – and foreseeable future continuing – to opt for cloud-based technologies.
Why Are Health Organizations Leveraging The Cloud?
We have been in the process of transitioning from fee-for-service to value-based care over the past decade. The industry is further planning to move from disease-based episodic care to preventive care in future years. To achieve that goal, several additional factors need to progress.
The healthcare system of the future will be more consumer-centric and value-driven. It will use real-time data to generate actionable insights, and data technology will play a crucial role. Cloud technology promises to improve performance enhancement and healthcare data analytics overall.
Health systems have a need for increased data capacity, and the cloud promises almost unlimited data storage, easy accessibility, and enhanced cybersecurity. As health organizations are expanding into a variety of digitized services such as virtual care, wearable devices, telemedicine, and smart AI assistance, the data per patient expands. The cloud is a single point of access to patient information, to multiple doctors and medical services at the same time, that boosts not only real-time coordination but also ensures data security for hospitals and patients.
Gartner, in a recent healthcare cloud services report, highlighted how provider leadership has moved from skepticism to acceptance of the cloud as a service delivery model. In what ways is the cloud benefiting the healthcare industry?
How Are Cloud Services Disrupting Healthcare Services?
Greener promises have been made in the areas of data-accessibility and management front for healthcare. Let us understand where it is heading and what outcomes we can expect:
- Integrated Data For Time-Saving Processes:
With real-time clinical updates happening in a matter of seconds, cross-facility collaboration is bound to improve. Besides leveraging a single access point to patient information, practices no longer have to wait for patient results from another department. This enables swifter cooperation on treatment plans and increases the time available for patient care.
- Better Public Health Assessment:
With increasing EHR data, there accumulates a rich set of public health metrics on the cloud. Mining this data, researchers can identify health trends and prevent any public health crisis. It will lead to an accurate assessment of public health as well as provide insights for improvement.
- Enhanced Data Security
Hospitals transition to encrypted cloud data from on-site; disparate storage systems reduces the risk of data breaches. Besides the security benefits of cloud migration, with increased mobility, doctors can access patient information from multiple locations and devices - quickly and efficiently.
- Streamlined Communication
Cloud computing has simplified collaboration and enabled better teamwork among healthcare professionals. It speeds up nearly every process, from scheduling appointments to real-time information access by the providers.
Healthcare organizations have enabled high-quality care for patients in remote locations, with the help of cloud computing. Every process from telemonitoring to teleconsultation has been enhanced with swift communication and data-access from any part of the world.
- Improved Data Storage Capacity
With large numbers of patients accessing healthcare services daily, the number of data records is continually increasing. Since patient data has to be held for six years, healthcare organizations can offload this data to the cloud. It is an economical solution when compared to using physical servers.
- Healthcare Services Scalability
Cloud services allow clients to increase or decrease data storage and traffic based on their needs. This has enabled healthcare providers to match their network requirements with service demands, based on their needs during any particular period.
- AI And Machine Learning
Since cloud platforms are integrating with AI and ML algorithms, healthcare organizations can use this integration to analyze and respond to the enormous amount of data they have. It will help them apply predictive network analytics and understand the future preventive steps to improve their patient outcomes.
There are numerous benefits that healthcare can reap from cloud services. Avenues such as digital health governance, virtual consulting, telemedicine provide enormous potential to impact health outcomes and are yet to be explored to their fullest extent.
The future of healthcare backed by cloud services is ready to soar from HIPAA-enabled machine learning tools to network health outcome predictions with AI on the cloud. I believe there is a lot to be gained from secure, integrated, and scalable data that can predict, assist, and guide even the most discrete clinical and financial decisions for healthcare. No doubt, the global market has substantial hopes from the cloud and healthcare merger!