Although cloud computing helps support healthcare trends and improve patient care, many healthcare organizations have maintained a deep-rooted aversion to its use, often citing security and privacy concerns. In recent years, regulations have been pushing the industry toward storage, collaboration, and accessibility. As a result, the cloud has become an even more attractive solution, since it is often safer and more versatile than on-premise options. Furthermore, health information exchanges are contributing to the need for interconnected medical record systems to ensure easy access to patient data. As a result, cloud adoption in healthcare is beginning to grow.
While still in the early stages of adoption and use, the healthcare industry and patients have realized many benefits of cloud computing. Here are 8 ways cloud computing has changed healthcare:
1. Electronic Health Records
One of the most intuitive benefits of cloud computing in healthcare is electronic health records (EHRs). While EHRs can be utilized in traditional IT environments, the cloud makes it easier to store, archive, and use patient records and images.
2. Data Storage
Big data is already improving the quality of care delivered. Yet many healthcare organizations are grappling with how to store all this data, while still allowing quick and easy access to it and keeping costs low. The cloud minimizes in-house storing needs, reducing the necessity of large capital investments. The cloud further allows access to data anytime from anyplace.
3. Data Security
Because of economies of scale, large cloud service providers are able to build large redundant data centers that place an emphasis on backups, data resiliency and uptime for lower costs. With proper encryption and security protocol, cloud providers increase the security around data to reduce the risk of breach. Finally, since the data is stored off-site, it is protected from on-site incidents.
4. Data Analytics
Hospitals and providers create and store a massive amount of data each day. This data is necessary for making informed decisions about patient treatment. By tracking and computing data in the cloud, in real-time, providers now are able to “harvest” it for patient trends, referral generation, and personalized care. The high-powered analytics don’t stop in-house. With the cloud, providers combine technologies and information to create more comprehensive pools of data to improve patient care.
5. Streamlined Collaboration
Providers have found that cloud computing makes it easier to collaborate, seek advice, and offer care as a team. With mobile devices, video conferencing, and applications built specifically for healthcare organizations, the cloud fosters better and quicker communication at a distance while maintaining HIPAA compliance and security. Furthermore, with the use of the cloud, patients more easily communicate with their providers and receive expert advice when they need it.
6. Telehealth and mHealth
The combination of the cloud, high-tech devices, and mobile technology, providing care to patients from a distance is now possible. Examples of this care include consultations, tele-surgeries, patient portal messaging, and remote patient monitoring.
7. Advanced Clinical Research
The cloud has increased the speed of the research process with quick and easy sharing of big data on servers. Big data has been seen as far too comprehensive for smaller computers to handle. However, with the advanced computing power of the cloud, these giant data sets can be used and analyzed for medical research. The cloud creates safe exchange of data between two parties and transforms data into meaningful information. As a result, researchers more quickly develop new drugs, gain a more robust understanding of various diseases, and improve quality of care.
8. Speed of Innovation
In a traditional environment, upgrades to software or infrastructure can be time consuming, expensive, and potentially cause a disruption in care. Cloud-based services can upgrade and improve their product rapidly, cheaply, and with minimal or no interruption to service. This change not only allows for rapid innovation and improved patient care, it also frees up any local IT staff to focus on “value-added” tasks such as infrastructure maintenance and administration.
Are you in the cloud? How has cloud computing changed your healthcare organization?