Cloud computing has been around in the health care industry for a few decades now. However, what's truly remarkable is that the adoption of this technology has increased at a frenetic pace only recently.
One 2019 research study by Technavio states that the global health care cloud technology market is anticipated to grow by USD 25.54 billion during 2020-2024. The coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this trend further.
This new reality, along with new payment models and changes in patients' expectations, have together pushed cloud technology to the forefront. Today, the cloud is not only helping providers improve patient care, drive efficiency, and eliminate waste, but it is also playing a huge role in ensuring health care data safety by averting potential cyber attacks and thefts.
Integrating cloud computing into your practice can be the key to streamlining care delivery.
In this blog post, we'll discuss a few ways this state-of-the-art tech solution can support the health care industry’s efforts to improve patient outcomes and mitigate costs in doing so.
1. Making Patient Data Interoperable while Mitigating Storage Costs
According to a recent survey conducted by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) in partnership with HIMMS Media, close to one-third of health care organizations report that their interoperability efforts are insufficient, even within their own organizations.
In most cases, physical data centers that are deployed on-premise not only demand an investment in hardware ahead of time, but they also come with ongoing costs of maintaining servers, spaces, cooling solutions, etc.
Cloud technology can be the solution to this persistent problem.
With health care organizations rapidly embracing virtual care delivery models such as telemedicine, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the collaboration between various doctors, departments, and even institutions has become of increasing importance. The cloud enables physicians to share data in a hassle-free manner.
Health care cloud vendors can aid providers in seamlessly integrating various processes within the organization and lowering their data storage costs by managing the structure, and ensuring the harmonious functioning and maintenance of cloud storage services. This will significantly help care providers in focusing their efforts on ameliorating patient outcomes alone.
This, in turn, boosts interoperability across the organization and helps with faster care delivery.
2. Keeping Patient Information Secure at Each Stage of the Data Lifecycle
In 2018, health care data breaches of 500 or more medical records were being committed at a rate of approximately 1 per day. In 2020, the frequency at which these breaches were committed nearly doubled with the average number of breaches per day adding up to 1.76.
Source: HIPAA Journal
The fact that health care organizations need to have highly robust security measures in place to safeguard sensitive patient data is universally known.
Cloud computing adds supplemental layers of security and monitoring to health care data.
One best practice for health care organizations here would be to put adequate access controls in place. For instance, particulars about a patient’s medical condition and treatment can be blocked from back-office staff who don’t require such details to do their work. Similarly, a patient’s financial information may be blocked from frontline care providers.
Telehealth is another technology where cloud computing is proving its potential. Getting a telemedicine platform developed for your practice that stores data on a cloud server can furnish robust security features such as end-to-end encryption of data, multi-factor authentication (MFA), etc. These ensure the patient data on your platform remains safeguarded at all times.
Today, a number of health care cloud providers also offer services in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Choosing a compliant provider can further ensure that all the sensitive data you store adheres to HIPAA Rules and remains protected at all times. This can significantly help providers avoid fines and penalties.
3. Furnishing Efficient and Integrated Patient Care
Today’s patients are quite savvy about their wellbeing. Equipped with state-of-the-art digital solutions, these patients are willing to accept nothing less than high-quality medicine—one that will deliver care in a patient-centric and streamlined manner, making an integrated model of care delivery critical for caregivers.
Cloud technology is playing a huge role in delivering patient-centric care.
The integration of cloud storage with patient’s electronic health records (EHR) has helped revolutionize collective patient care, making it hassle-free for authorized individuals from the medical staff to retrieve vital patient information from any remote location, and at any given point in time. This further promotes anytime care and augments patient outcomes.
“With EHRs, every provider can have the same accurate and up-to-date information about a patient,” as explained by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on their website. “Better coordination can lead to better quality of care and improved patient outcomes.”
The cloud-based software behind collaboration tools of the likes of video conferencing and enterprise messaging holds the potential to leave a positive influence on both health care teams and their patients.
“Moving to the cloud for our communications was the best decision we’ve made, as we’re now connected with our patients and colleagues whether we are in the office, at home or traveling overseas,” states Dr. Ravi Patel, founder of the Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center, Bakersfield, CA, in a recent press release.
Today, with the rapid innovation happening on the cloud technology front, the data gathered from remote patient monitoring devices can also be uploaded to a specific medical cloud or the user's private centralized cloud. This helps maintain a record of all the monitored data which can easily be retrieved at a later time by authorized medical personnel to suggest treatment.
All in all, cloud computing has transformed the health care industry in innumerable ways.
Now, this transformation may be occurring at a comparatively slower pace for some, but the growing need to make data more interoperable will eventually get many to notice the cloud and its endless benefits.
Having said that, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the future of health care is in the cloud!
Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and president of Arkenea, a digital health consulting firm. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader across Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.