The adoption of digital health is growing, accelerating investor activity, legislative changes (such as greater interoperability), technology innovation (such as healthcare services from internet giants), infrastructure upgrade (such as cloud transformation for healthcare), and business model improvements from established players in the healthcare sector.
Cloud Technology lies at the heart of digital transformation across various technologies and health care is not beyond that trend. The health service industry is increasingly adopting cloud-driven solutions for easier information management through cloud hosting or customized experience through cloud-driven apps.
Global Trends Around Digitalization of Healthcare
The latest survey by Accenture shows around 20%-30% of work is managed over the cloud with a target to reach 80% in 10 years. The digital transformation push of COVID-19, with increased adaptation to online services and processes, has revised the goal to a mere timeline of 3 years.
Through innovation and digitization by adopting cloud technology to realize their strategic objectives healthcare companies can generate value. As per a McKinsey study, titled “Cloud’s trillion-dollar prize is up for grabs,” this growth is projected to be around $100 billion to $170 billion in 2030.
The healthcare cloud computing market is itself projected to $64.7 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 18%.
- Pandemic and social distancing norms have made it all the more important to provide remote access to healthcare. Cloud based technologies have ensured seamless registration, secure maintenance and easy access to medical records, and secure billing for the patients.
- Traditional methods of research can’t keep up pace with the advancement of medical science. Genetically engineered microbes, various types of stats generated from wearable devices, all demand a data driven ecosystem. AI/ML driven algorithms process huge volumes of data stored across clouds to give unique insights from vaccine research to disease pattern recognition.
- The volume of data generated every day at a medical facility is huge. Maintenance of such data physically demands a considerable amount of space and a dedicated team. Even using servers wouldn’t be enough considering the cost of scaling and the expense of maintaining an in house IT team. This is where managed cloud services step in taking away the financial and technical risks.
Cloud Transformation Examples in Recent Times
Some of the popular names and use cases in cloud healthcare technology are:
Pfizer and AWS team up to develop prototype solutions
Pfizer would use Machine Learning Technology of AWS to build a prototype to detect abnormalities in Pfizer’s oral-dose medicine manufacturing. Pfizer also took the assistance of cloud frameworks in developing a medicine for lung cancer patients with ALK gene mutation.
GE Healthcare and AWS
GE Healthcare and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the first European cloud deployment of Edison True PACS at the Royal Orthopedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham.
The project aims to provide radiologists with intelligent productivity tools that help enhance reading speed, reduce errors, improve diagnostic precision, and enable more confident diagnosis. This is important at a time when radiologists are under increased pressure due to backlogs from the COVID pandemic.
Tucson Medical Center (TMC) initially invested in data storage technology In 2011, which was completely filled within a mere 3 months. TMC turned to NetApp for its ONTAP® technology and FlexPod® data center solution from NetApp and Cisco and can spin up development environments in 20 minutes instead of 2 days, reorganize storage structures without downtime or application latency improving clinician satisfaction and patient experience to a great extent.
Medsphere through its SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, Careview provides a comprehensive EHR (Electronic Health Record) system for clinical, financial, and patient accounting. Hospitals can drop the worry of maintaining local servers and data centers and invest in core tasks.
Amazon HealthLake is a HIPAA-eligible service that healthcare providers, health insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies can use to store, transform, query, and analyze large-scale health data.
Healthcare providers can use HealthLake to store, transform, query, and analyze data in the AWS Cloud. Using the HealthLake integrated medical natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, you can analyze unstructured clinical text from diverse sources. HealthLake transforms unstructured data using natural language processing models and provides powerful query and search capabilities.
Moderna was among the first to develop and get their vaccine approved for emergency use with help from the cloud.
The company is now fully cloud-based. Building and scaling their operations on the cloud allowed them to experiment rapidly and easily. For instance, instead of visiting the lab to pipette their messenger RNA and proteins, their scientists can visit a web portal located on the AWS cloud.
eHealth NSW, the digital organization of NSW Health, is now developing and deploying clinical applications through its cloud architecture developed in partnership with hyperscale providers Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Through this partnership, it was able to deploy cloud-optimised and fully automated Enterprise Patient Repository and Electronic Oral Health Record on AWS and directory management software Quest Active Tools on Azure.
The adoption of cloud technology in health services has brought in wonderful transformation through new use cases of analytics, IoT, and automation. Let’s look at some key benefits to the healthcare industry:
Seamless Exchange of Patient Data
Patient registration, outpatient processes, and billing are streamlined and far more efficient thanks to cloud computing and its scalability. Patients can also access their health records remotely at any time because their data is stored in the cloud.
Cloud-managed systems increase transparency in healthcare and empower patients to take charge of their own health. Billing processes become more closely linked to patient insurance, allowing for more efficient transactions.
Cloud technology enables hospitals and healthcare organizations to securely exchange patient health records. This makes patients’ health data available to pharmacists, doctors, and financial institutions, promoting patient-centered care. Patients can receive the best care no matter where they are if the information is exchanged smoothly. Cloud-based solutions also encourage medical personnel to collaborate and provide the best possible care for the patient.
Growth of telehealth services
The rise of telehealth has also allowed for continuity of care, allowing patients who would otherwise be unable to travel or obtain care services to access healthcare services at a lower cost. It reduces travel time and the risk of disease spread in hospitals, while also assisting patients with chronic disease management through remote patient monitoring.
Data Integration and Analytics
Cloud-based systems deliver real-time health data. AI and sophisticated analytics are advanced predictive tools that can be used by healthcare organizations to conduct research across large datasets and access clinical decision support tools. Extrapolation and analysis of data across departments can aid in improving the patient experience, adhering to quality standards, and utilizing new technologies and applications.
Centralized Data Storage and Management
The health care industry is one of the most extensive data generating industries. Cloud hosting gives an unlimited space to store data. Moreover experienced IT teams make segregation of data and retrieval a streamlined experience.
Extensive Research and Insights
Migrating healthcare records to Cloud opens the path for high-level information analysis through cloud computing. Integration of pattern recognition algorithms through AI & ML helps to scan through volumes of complex data to give new information. Refined research contributes to the health care industry by identifying new symptoms or patterns, which increases productivity.
Ease of Access
Cloud hosting makes EHR accessible from anywhere. Communication and collaboration between medical teams at different locations become easier.
Computing can be done even on third-party servers that medical staff can easily access.
Evolution of healthcare apps
Several healthcare apps or mHealth apps keep patients and doctors coordinated across various geographical locations. Automated backups and multiple touch-points make data storage, data recovery much simpler – and patient data more streamlined.
Personal information has become a valuable asset with the advent of IT. Patients are concerned about how their health records are stored and who has access to them. Storage in Cloud in a highly secured environment ensures that access to data lies with the right authority. Digital footprint also helps to trace easily if there is a data breach.
Maintaining a server for an organization is a high-cost affair. Transitioning to the cloud cuts off the cost of space, IT staff, and infrastructure. As the patient and staff increase, a need for scaling arises. This can be easily done in Cloud without the healthcare company worrying about cost or technology.
Challenges to Implementation
Cloud in healthcare is comparatively a new technological transformation and evokes some concern:
Health data are very sensitive information nowadays especially, those related to emerging viruses or personal conditions of a celebrity or world leader. Cyber attacks are on the rise and though clouds are very secure some data may require additional layers of protection. A hybrid or multilevel cloud, which is segregated between public and private cloud can be a solution.
Cloud technology brings transformation to the healthcare industry but also demands some changes. Transfer of roles and responsibilities needs to happen, budgets should be set. To optimize the benefits of cloud technology clear objectives should be defined, migration strategy should be planned for smooth integration. Integration into Cloud will demand a culture shift in the organization. Re-engineering applications for the cloud may result in workflow changes that clinical staff find takes time away from attending to patients and adds to their workload.
Cloud transformation in the healthcare industry has brought in a critical social impact. It was a leading technology that helped to keep health services accessible during the pandemic. From extensive RNA analysis through global labs for discovering a vaccine to facilitating the best of healthcare to ailing patients at home through video consultation, the world has benefited from the transformation of healthcare via cloud technology and the future is bright in terms of adoption and benefits in overall Healthcare IT Transformation.