Healthcare organizations are notoriously slow to adopt new technology, a fact that frustrates many in the industry.
Even cloud computing, which has become commonplace in other major industries, hasn’t been readily adopted.
The benefits healthcare organizations experience with the cloud are numerous (we’ll get into that below). So why does the industry remain hesitant to embrace it?
Healthcare data is inherently sensitive and it includes not just personal identifying information, but usually financial information as well. As such, it’s some of the most valuable information on the black market and an extremely tempting target for cybercriminals.
Because of the high risk, many organizations think it’s much easier to protect their data if it’s stored on traditional, on-premise infrastructure. But thanks to its de-centralized setup, the cloud is inherently safe. Plus, with the right security technology, such as blockchain and data encryption, healthcare data is protectable in the cloud.
Healthcare data and any related applications must comply with laws like HIPAA, HITECH and the GDPR, whether they’re stored on premises or in the cloud. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen some relaxation of regulations from world governments (especially related to telemedicine). But there’s no way to know if this will last.
Compliance may look a little different with cloud-based data storage, but it’s still possible with the right policies and technology in place.
Misperceptions of cost
Many healthcare organizations still think the cloud is out of their price range.
We’ll discuss this later in the article, but for now, let us say that this couldn’t be further from the truth. With no need for physical maintenance and the ability to pay for exactly what you need, the cloud is actually more cost-effective than traditional IT infrastructure.
The future of healthcare
Another thing for healthcare organizations to keep in mind: The world is changing fast and the post-COVID-19 world will be a much more digitally connected place. Not only will we retain much of our new ways of living and working, but people will expect their providers to use telehealth capabilities and mobile devices to create a better experience too.
To support a more digitally connected world, moves to the cloud will most likely be accelerated for many companies. Healthcare simply must keep up.
The many benefits of the cloud
Beyond keeping up in an increasingly connected world, healthcare organizations will experience many benefits from cloud-based infrastructure, including:
There seems to be a perception that the cloud will cost healthcare organizations much more than their current infrastructure. But actually, the opposite is usually true.
In healthcare, there’s a lot of data to manage. Patient records, social and medical information, financials — it all needs to be stored. With traditional IT infrastructure, organizations pay a large upfront cost for hardware, then spend more over the years to maintain and replace that hardware, not to mention keep up the facilities it fills.
The kicker is that most organizations don’t even reach the capacity they pay for with traditional infrastructure. With the cloud, you pay for what you need, scaling it up or down as needed. And the hassle and additional cost of maintaining a physical footprint can disappear.
The care of one, single patient generates a lot of important data. It also requires a lot of collaboration between industry segments, from insurance to pharmaceuticals. Cloud adoption allows all stakeholders to access the patient data they need from numerous sources with unparalleled speed and ease.
For providers, this seamless transfer of data means they can give timely treatment and share opinions on cases regardless of where they are.
Cloud computing democratizes data, giving patients more ability to interact with and control their own health information. It leads to more informed patients and has proved to greatly increase patient participation in their own health decisions.
For the individual patient, cloud-based data analysis can help providers formulate more personalized care plans and be confident in their prescription.
When it comes to medical research, patient information can become an invaluable asset thanks to big data technology such as artificial intelligence. Right now, there’s an unimaginable amount of healthcare data out there and with the computer power of the cloud, processing large datasets is more feasible.
The 2020 pandemic greatly accelerated the adoption of telehealth technology, to the point that patients now expect providers to offer virtual visits as an option.
With cloud computing, healthcare organizations have access to cloud-based applications as well as dependable, remote accessibility of data. This allows them to easily access and share patient data while providing quality care from a safe distance.