How is cloud technology enhancing health and care in healthcare

 

The scale in which cloud computing is influencing healthcare is enormous and the interest is expected to grow in the upcoming years, especially since COVID-19 pandemics was an impulse for massive changes in how medical data are currently processed. The healthcare industry as a whole should see by now the advantages of having its data available in the cloud, but if you are still not entirely sure about that, let me be your guide. 

Cloud computing is so much more than just storing data. The whole point is to increase effectiveness, optimize workflow and cut costs, just like in any other type of business. It’s also only natural that patients expect to have the same quality of service in healthcare as they are getting in other places, especially in private healthcare sector. Cloud computing provides both of those profits – it increases customer’s satisfaction and simultaneously improves how your organisation is operating on the market. Both patients and medical professionals can gain instant access to medical records which saves a lot of time and burden and, in some cases, might actually save lives. 

From a patient’s point of view cloud computing offers advantages such as:

  • Providing prescriptions, with no need of showing up personally to pick it up in a physical (paper) form, 
  • Better access to professionals who are working in hospitals far away from patient’s place of residence, 
  • Better cooperation between various areas of the system, such as doctors, pharmacists or employees of insurance companies,
  • Just having an actual access to one’s medical data, on demand and anytime it’s needed for whatever reason.

It was noticed how the pandemic accelerated the shift to cloud computing in healthcare. Medical services needed to be available, even if some professionals had to work remotely. Using CC was crucial to address some of the most relevant challenges such as:

It’s expected that by the end of 2025, the cloud-powered healthcare sector will be worth around $55BN and already approximately 83% of the industry is using or implementing cloud services into their business model. As time passes, other systems will become obsolete. 

If you look carefully at the benefits for patients and medical professionals you should notice one common factor – cloud computing enables and basically means a centralized medical record access. The point being, one doesn’t have to have separate medical records or hope that all the vital information will somehow be shared between doctors. The data will be there, for any medical professional to use it for the patient’s benefit. More importantly, having the medical record in the cloud actually makes it more safe than having paper-based documentation, because it limits the risk of some files being lost, misplaced or just not clearly written. 

The obvious benefit is having access to medical information in any emergency-like situation, i.e. being on holidays or just being unconscious, assuming we have some sort of ID which allows our identification. In both those situations the biggest value of cloud computing in healthcare is speed – our medical record is accessible anytime and anywhere.

So, is there anything to worry about?

There are some concerns, which should be discussed in the context of cloud computing, the first one being security issues. Just like with any type of sensitive data it’s important to understand that security is a priority and medical records must be safeguarded for any type of data leaks. Generally, however, encrypting data and using security keys deal with those issues  quite well in other businesses.

Another issue is designing the whole system with a downtime possibility in mind. Downtimes happen and it’s very important to think about the possible failures before they happen.

This means that implementing cloud computing for medical services, the person responsible must be aware of legal issues (what kind of data protection is absolutely crucial and how to provide it) and technical aspects. It is best to be aware of what data is considered “sensitive” and treat them accordingly. Those tend to vary depending on the country, so one needs to stay updated on such.

In the end, cloud computing is much, much more than just a buzzword. It is and will continue to transform the healthcare business. The emphasis is and always was on health and care, and not so much on administrative work and other tasks which can be automated with a benefit for everyone. 

Author: Leszek Warzecha, Digital Marketing Specialist at ITSG Global 

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