Benefits of Cloud Computing for Healthcare

Cloud computing has been rapidly adopted across several sectors, including healthcare, over the last few years. The move has significantly accelerated since the pandemic. The global healthcare cloud computing market will grow at an expected CAGR of 24 per cent between 2020 and 2024.

Cloud computing enables healthcare organisations to

  • Balance security with regard to patient records, reporting, complaints, suggestions and surveys while safely sharing data with other healthcare institutions to deliver the best in patient care
  • Share data across various service institutions to expedite reimbursement processes, improve safety procedures and compliance and deliver better quality of service quickly by adequately implementing access control between staff and specialists
  • Have scalability and flexibility while storing ever-increasing patient data at a reduced cost and providing fiscal flexibility. Cloud computing does not require upfront capital equipment expenditure and can be scaled up or down, based on need, at short notice

The benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Enhanced collaboration between specialists and other hospital staff — Cloud-based software and tools streamline collaboration by delivering near real-time charting, data sharing and insights that improve the quality of patient care.
  • Security management — With governments and regulations becoming stringent, there is a heightened emphasis on data security with regard to patient data. The healthcare provider can segregate security by handling cyber security and encryption in-house while outsourcing data management and protection to cloud service providers. This enables secure management of electronic health records (EHR).
  • Cross-institution collaboration — Extensive research in various medical fields such as cancer can provide healthcare institutions with options to securely share data on the latest available advancements that patients can benefit from. With cloud infrastructure for security and data protection, this collaboration can benefit both researchers and patients.
  • Innovative deployment of AI and ML cloud solutions in healthcare — These include automation of repetitive record keeping, optimising daily operations, and improving the overall patient experience with timely insights. Accuracy of patient information has improved with the use of AI. Predictive analytics run over cloud-based infrastructure can provide insights that can help eliminate inefficiencies.
  • Remote care service opportunities — With computing, storing and access facilitated by cloud computing, doctors, nurses and health practitioners can provide and monitor health services from practically anywhere across the world. The same systems can be accessed via any device with great accuracy while monitoring patients’ vital signs or providing timely expert advice and guidance for location-agnostic needs. Remote services can change the way home care facilities are provided, thereby reducing costs for patients significantly.
  • Cost benefits — Since hardware and software are maintained by the service provider along with data protection, backup and network availability, cloud computing enables healthcare organisations to realise the benefits of big data at fractional costs. In addition, the organisation gains nearly unlimited storage capacity, scalability, security options and AI and ML capabilities with reliable uptime and support.

Risks and ways of mitigating the adoption of cloud computing in healthcare:

  • Security challenges – Privacy of patient data, security and compliance are huge challenges to cloud adoption. Finding a trusted cloud provider who provides tools, secure data channels and manageability infrastructure across distributed and on-premises cloud deployments is key to ensuring the integrity of data. Regular vulnerability and risk assessments, data policies around on-premises and off-premises data and implementing reliable authentication and authorisation procedures are a few ways of addressing security issues.
  • Lack of standardisation – Healthcare systems the world over must collaborate, but they are fragmented and disjointed. This makes it very hard to share data or have a unified view that enables critical insights and analysis. The goal of building interoperable and connected healthcare systems can be achieved by applying intelligent network, security and standardised cloud design and frameworks.
  • Availability and reliability – Losing control over data, inconsistent app performance and service provider interruptions are areas of concern for healthcare companies where user experience and hospital performance can be impacted. Adopting hybrid and multi-cloud vendor strategies can help eliminate single points of failure or switch between providers when necessary. Thorough and continuous testing of network capacity and bandwidth plays a crucial role in ensuring reliable services.

Cloud computing in healthcare is here to stay. Its benefits extend beyond the basic choice for the future of healthcare and healthcare professionals. From optimising infrastructure costs and complying with strict governmental requirements to real-time information sharing with 24x7 access to critical data, the healthcare sector and patients are solidly poised to leverage cloud computing benefits.

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