Cloud computing has become an inseparable part of our lives. Using iCloud or Google Drive for storing files to watching movies on Netflix, we have all been using the cloud. There are many ways we use cloud-based services every day and yet we may not be aware of them. Such has been the impact of cloud computing. By the time we understand what is the cloud and why it is important, we are already enjoying its services.
Transforming how businesses provide their services, it has taken customer experience and ease of use to a whole new level. This is one of the major reasons behind the widespread adoption of the cloud. Further, the novel coronavirus is reinforcing cloud adoption, making it one of the fastest-growing technologies in the world.
While the world is still fighting the pandemic, businesses are continuously evolving, trying to adapt to the new normal. The healthcare industry is no exception. With protective measures such as social distancing in place, healthcare professionals are making use of the available technological resources. With this, they make sure their services are delivered without compromising the prescribed safety precautions.
Telemedicine and the Cloud
Telemedicine is a modern healthcare practice of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients remotely. It uses video-conferencing applications that comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It has become a common term amidst the exponentially increasing healthcare-technology union today.
“A Frost & Sullivan’s report suggests that the telemedicine adoption has been sped up by almost two years because of the novel coronavirus. The report further predicts the virtual visits market income to be more than double for the solution providers by the end of 2020. And almost double of that again by 2021.”
The merger of telemedicine and cloud computing promises great opportunities for reshaping the healthcare industry. The union promises to deliver more viable and effective medical services. Numerous cloud-based telehealth applications that promise to realize the potential of telemedicine are under development. Their aim is to foster inexpensive and standard healthcare services via the latest cloud technologies. Industry experts believe that the cloud-based healthcare market promises to augment extraordinarily during the 2020-2025 forecast period. A lot of credit for this growth goes to the otherwise destructive COVID-19.
“ According to the latest report on the healthcare cloud computing market, published by MarketsandMarkets, the global market is anticipated to grow to 64.7 billion USD by 2025 from the current 28.1 billion USD in 2020, growing at a CAGR of about 18.1 percent during the period. Moreover, the report attributes the increasing adoption of Internet of Things (IoT), smart wearables, and Big Data Analytics, etcetera for the extraordinary growth of the market.”
How is Cloud Computing Impacting the Healthcare Industry
Healthcare is an industry historically considered lagging behind other industries in terms of technology adoption. Though, that is not the case when it comes to cloud adoption. It is one of the leading industries embracing the cloud with open arms since the recent past.
“A West Monroe Partner’s report from late 2017 concluded that about 35 percent of the surveyed healthcare organizations confirmed the use of cloud storage or infrastructure for holding more than half of their data or resources. It was one of the fastest industries joining hands with cloud computing.”
Today, the worldwide cloud adoption in healthcare is beyond information storage. Modern healthcare organizations are leveraging cloud-based applications to attain higher efficiencies, offer personalized healthcare solutions, optimize workflows, and lower healthcare delivery costs.
Cloud-based healthcare systems have multiple benefits both for the patients as well as healthcare professionals. While the service providers are able to deliver superior quality, customized healthcare services at inexpensive operational costs, the service consumers have access to instantaneous healthcare solutions at comparatively lower charges.
The following are some of the major reasons why cloud computing is positively impacting the healthcare industry:
Cost-efficiency and Scalability
The fundamental function of cloud computing is to provide on-demand access to information, computing power, and other resources via the internet (the cloud). This empowers healthcare specialists and hospitals to get rid of purchasing and maintaining in-house hardware infrastructure. This helps them save a huge sum of money. Moreover, cloud storage has no up-front costs. Users need to pay only for the resources they use.
Cloud computing also offers a comfortable environment for scaling the resource infrastructure as and when you require it. Present-day patients and healthcare consumers have numerous records not just from Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) but also from various smart wearables and healthcare applications which may require a healthcare organization to upgrade their storage capacity. The cloud enables them to smoothly and quickly scale up their storage and other computing resources economically.
Access to Advanced Data Analytics
Data, both organized as well as unorganized, is extremely important to current organizations for their business needs. Healthcare information is even more important as it contains patients’ complete medical history. Advanced healthcare research organizations make use of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics to fuel up their research projects with this data. The state-of-the-art computing infrastructure provided by the cloud makes it efficient and viable for organizations to store, process, and analyze such large amounts of data.
The cloud-based data analytics helps derive customized healthcare solutions using pertinent patient data. It makes sure the healthcare providers are not missing out on any important detail, however small. From a food allergy to a little suggestion on treatment prescription, everything is processed and stored in the patients’ records for formulating successful treatment to an ailment.
Genomic Analytics is one of the greatest examples of how AI-powered cloud computing can help healthcare organizations to achieve precise, personalized medicines. Genomic research and DNA sequencing require a comprehensive study of a person’s genetic data which is in petabytes. This analysis can be performed effectively using a cloud-based high-performance computing infrastructure coupled with AI and machine learning. Hospitals and healthcare institutions can utilize the genetic data stored in the cloud for accelerating their vaccine and treatment research.
Enhanced Data Security, Backup, and Recovery
Security is one of the biggest concerns for any enterprise planning to move to the cloud. It is an even bigger concern for the healthcare industry where both the service vendor as well as the service consumer have to comply with government rules and regulations, the US’s HIPAA for example. While it is true that no technology is absolutely safe and secure, it also can’t be denied that with modern security strategies in place, the cloud is one of the safest technologies to use.
The present-day cloud service providers incorporate multi-layer security strategies that make cloud computing more secure compared to in-house hardware infrastructure. These security measures, coupled with the proactive measures of a cloud user sufficiently aware of the security aspects, help to protect the sensitive healthcare data against cyber-attacks and internet misadventures.
The following are some of the considerations of highly safe and protective cloud infrastructure:
- Encrypted data
- Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
- Secure interfaces and APIs
- Strong login passwords
- Powerful firewalls
- Flexible cloud deployment models
In addition to these highly secure data protection capabilities, a cloud-based healthcare system also offers sophisticated, effective backup and recovery options. An organization can choose from a public cloud backup, Cloud-to-Cloud (C2C) backup, Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS), and Smart backup devices. They can make a choice that best suits their backup requirements. It is easier to recover important healthcare data in an event of data loss.
The healthcare industry requires doctors, healthcare institutions, and other medical departments to collaborate in order to discover a new drug for a disease or share a patient’s records. The cloud makes this collaboration extremely smooth, secure, efficient, and quick. A cloud computing server enables smooth data sharing and transfer between the collaborating entities.
The aforementioned benefits of a cloud-based healthcare system reiterate the contribution of the cloud in transforming the modern healthcare industry. With the significant investments taking place in telehealth, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), etcetera, the healthcare industry is evolving to be a cloud-friendly industry that not only complies with all the government regulations but also provide effective, secure, inexpensive, and on-demand healthcare services for a better, healthy future of the humankind.