Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the overall healthcare dynamics. The use of cloud computing in healthcare has touched new heights and ripened immensely. With each passing day, organizations across different healthcare verticals are rapidly adopting cloud computing applications, thereby making healthcare delivery more efficient and bringing satisfaction to various stakeholders, including patients and medical staff.
With the rising demand for healthcare services due to the growth in the population and patient information, the need for the integration of data and real-time access is becoming increasingly critical. Several tech giants and startups are also taking a keen interest in the cloud computing services in the healthcare domain to cater to different needs.
In most simple terms, “Cloud Computing” refers to the on-demand availability of computer system resources, data, servers, databases, networking, and software that requires little to no management by the user. In cloud, the data centers are available to many users over the internet and are delivered over multiple locations from central servers. Cloud-based storage makes it possible to save files to a remote database and retrieve them on demand. It makes it relatively easy to access the data storage, servers, and databases. Cloud computing in healthcare industry aims to provide a connected, accessible, and collaborative environment among different stakeholders.
From medical institutions to clinical centers and from large-scale manufacturing to health administration, almost every sphere of healthcare is adopting cloud computing and embracing digital transformation. It is helping the organizations to achieve their strategic vision and goals and enables them to maintain the lead over competitors, and provide value to the end-user/customer. Additionally, it also aspires to lower service delivery costs. Due to several benefits, the prominence of cloud computing in healthcare industry is expected to grow in the future.
Key Applications of Cloud Technology in the Healthcare Segment
Cloud Technology and the Healthcare Data Protection
The safety and security of the data are the most essential aspects in every industry. In healthcare, it becomes even more important as it deals with the critical and private health data of the patients. The hospital generally stores health data locally on its own server with patient records. However, as the eHealth applications are growing organizations are relying more on data storage on the application servers. These servers are generally based in the cloud. To secure data, cloud computing companies are focussing more on developing platforms that use encryption, pseudonymization, and anonymization. The platform can also automatically detect changes in cloud accounts, and companies can quickly respond to those alterations in various ways. Overall, it maintains visibility and supports compliance.
Cloud-Based System to Automate the Operations
Automated operations are one of the significant advantages of cloud computing in healthcare. With automation, a large amount of data can be fetched easily out of its silos. Additionally, it also automates backend operations and facilitates the integration of other services. It can have a direct positive impact on the healthcare industry. As the technology and the innovations in cloud technology are evolving, they can gain massive traction in the coming years. It can make service delivery more efficient.
Cloud-Based Technology in Practice Management
With the cloud system in place, it becomes easier to maintain the patient’s medical history, such as demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, etc. Companies are focussing more and more on the electronic healthcare records of customers as they can be accessed at any time and improve their organizations’ efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, several cloud technologies are available in the market to help other healthcare administrative segments, such as revenue cycle management, billing & accounts management, healthcare information exchange, practice management, mobile app management, financial management, supply chain management, and healthcare analytics, among others. Additionally, healthcare insurance companies are also implementing cloud-based data analytics in their system to understand their customers better.
Teamwork Through Cloud Computing
Cloud technologies provide a unified platform that can be used or accessed at multiple points such as mobile, tablet, and desktop. It makes communication easier, and employees can work together effectively. The unified system increases the efficiency of a different team, and It can make it more straightforward to use by nursing staff, medical assistants, physicians, medical students, or scribing programs. The data related to the clinical applications and personal health information can be shared with physicians, clinical providers, and researchers, thereby making the clinical workflows more efficient. With the growing advancement, the remote working capabilities of cloud solutions are expected to evolve in the coming years, making the service delivery more agile, mobile, and resilient,
Cloud-Based System For Clinical Data Exchange
Real-time clinical data exchange across health systems, commercial labs, health projects, and other channel partners is one of the key areas where the Cloud-Based System can be employed effectively in the healthcare setting. Currently, healthcare organizations engaged in clinical and research programs generate an enormous amount of paperwork.
Today, several companies are dedicatedly working to provide clinical data exchange platforms with more accuracy and consistency. Cloud in clinical management can provide an online directory of services making storage, mapping, and retrieval easier. As the clinical data exchange is expected to expedite in the coming years, the demand for the cloud-based system for clinical data exchange is also expected to increase in the future.
Benefits of Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Tech-savvy healthcare professionals are turning to cloud computing for all of its benefits to successfully handle the demands of business and patients. With its on-demand availability, internet-based services, and high data availability, cloud computing has changed the whole healthcare area into HealthTech. Some of the major benefits of cloud computing in healthcare include
Collaboration is facilitated by sharing. Data sharing has gotten more easier and simpler because of cloud computing. Because healthcare information is designed to be kept private, the cloud allows data to be securely exchanged in real-time with all key healthcare stakeholders such as physicians, nurses, and caregivers. Aside from sharing, they may also remotely view medical data and information at any time and from any location. Cloud computing has also enabled remote conferencing and instant updates on healthcare advances and patients’ situations, making it an ideal companion for healthcare practitioners.
Healthcare information must be kept private. Because of the abundance of data maintained by this sector, it attracts malevolent actors, resulting in security and data breaches. The cloud network protects security by utilizing particular security technologies that can alert you to questionable efforts. Because the cloud serves as a data repository, cloud service providers such as AWS and Azure are especially cautious in adhering to privacy requirements such as HIPAA and GDPR. These service providers employ several security techniques such as network fireball, customer-controlled encryption, and so forth, making it the safest and most dependable alternative for data-related demands.
The cloud can store a massive quantity of data at a very low cost. Cloud computing operates on a pay-as-you-go and subscription basis, which means you only pay for the services you use. Cloud technology may significantly lower your in-house infrastructure and other operating costs by transferring IT spending from Capex to Opex. It eventually allows smaller hospitals with fewer resources to adopt a cloud-based strategy.
Before deciding on any technology, speed is an important aspect to consider. Cloud-based solutions may update and improve their capabilities at a respectable rate with minimum interaction, and you can also obtain real-time updates on all essential data. The advantages of cloud computing in healthcare include unrivaled speed and speedier access to information, which can help overcome the challenges that industry stakeholders and patients are facing. This cutting-edge technology has also altered the scope of clinical research, and cloud computing can help with clinical trial management and knowledge exchange.
Scalability and Flexibility
Healthcare organizations work in an ever-changing environment. The cloud enables healthcare technology such as electronic medical records, mobile apps, patient portals, IoT devices, and big data analytics. It allows for easy scalability and adaptability, which helps the whole decision-making process. Along with 24-hour availability, healthcare providers must significantly grow data storage and network requirements to meet service expectations. Cloud technology has the ability to enhance or reduce these storage requirements based on the demands of healthcare practitioners. Because cloud migration might fundamentally disrupt your standard data handling procedures, healthcare providers must plan ahead of time for the transfer process. Cloud migration strategies not only decrease risks but also reduce downtime, avoid information leaks, enhance data management, and boost security standards.
Healthcare Cloud Computing Market Drivers
Rising IT use in the healthcare industry is the primary factor driving the healthcare cloud computing market growth. The use of cloud computing techniques allows IT to obtain assets from the internet utilizing web-based tools and apps. It provides simple access to servers, storage, databases, and a wide range of applications. Healthcare cloud computing provides control over data scalability, enormous storage of clinical information in hospitals and clinics, and faster access to digital medical records. Furthermore, the rising need for cloud computing in billing to decrease capital expenditure associated with traditional billing processes would boost revenue size.
Moreover, technological improvements in the healthcare industry, together with rising healthcare spending, will fuel the expansion of the healthcare cloud computing market. The growing need for cloud computing in healthcare and cutting-edge analytical tools to improve operational efficiency will benefit corporate growth. Furthermore, several government programs aimed at increasing cloud computing use will open up new opportunities for industry companies. However, data security concerns and the fear of cloud data breaches may have a detrimental influence on corporate development in the future years.
Challenges of Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Major challenges of cloud computing in healthcare include user skepticism of given security and privacy, organizational lethargy, loss of data governance, and low safety standards. In rare situations, the service agreement may exclude the provision that allows the client to freely audit and control their data. Sometimes the provider is unable to fulfill the requisite compliance regulations (for example, safety standards, contracts, or policy change statements). Certain common services are sometimes unavailable to clients (for example, credit card payments). Moreover, in large-scale distributed cloud systems, technical difficulties include resource restrictions, unexpected performance, data locks, data bottlenecks, and significant defects. In addition, due to intense competition, some cloud service providers may overburden computing resources, limit access, or employ obsolete hardware or software. Customers may, in rare situations, be denied access to the virtual architecture of the service supplied.
Furthermore, one of the most significant problems is data blockage. In some circumstances, cloud users may choose to move their data or services to a different provider or the on-premise IT environment. Unfortunately, most cloud infrastructures offer only a limited level of compatibility. Some users (for example, biomedical research facilities) may need to upload or download large volumes of data on a regular basis, which may be constrained by a lack of physical bandwidth. Furthermore, defects in highly dispersed infrastructures are more difficult to track down.
Moreover, the most severe risks of cloud computing in healthcare are caused by open-source management interfaces, improper encryption key management, and privilege misuse. Cloud computing is often offered to a wide range of clients. If the vendor is unable to allocate resources properly, this might lead to security and performance difficulties. Hardware resources are shared by several customers in a multi-tenant system. In this instance, a third party may get access to another client’s “remote” data. This offers a greater danger to cloud clients than dedicated local hardware. The usage of cloud computing creates a number of legal difficulties, including local contract rules, intellectual property rights, data jurisdiction, and privacy.
Key Players in the Healthcare Cloud Computing Market
Some of the prominent companies operating and offering healthcare cloud computing products in the market include Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Amazon Web Services, Ambra Health, Athenahealth, CareCloud, Carestream Health, Cerner Corporation, Cisco, ClearData Networks, Dell, Inc, DICOM Grid, eClinicalWorks, EMC, Epic Systems Corporation, GNAX Health, IBM, INFINITT Healthcare, International Business Machines Corporation, iTelagen, Koninklijke Philips N.V., Merge Healthcare, Microsoft Corporation, NextGen Healthcare, NTT DATA Corporation, Nuance Communications, Oracle, Sectra AB, Siemens Healthineers, and several others.
These companies used techniques such as service launches, business expansions, agreements, partnerships, collaborations, and acquisitions to enhance their position in the healthcare cloud computing market. Owing to the very high market potential several new players are expected to enter the cloud computing services market in the near future, thereby making it one of the most competitive segments.
Recent Developments in the Healthcare Cloud Computing Market
- In January 2022, Francisco Partners (US) signed an agreement with IBM (US) to acquire healthcare data and analytics assets from IBM that are currently part of the Watson Health business, including Health Insights, MarketScan, Clinical Development, Social Program Management, Micromedex, and imaging software offerings.
- In December 2021, CVS Health and Microsoft started collaborating in order to accelerate digital healthcare via AI and cloud computing.
- In September 2021, MetaCell, a life sciences software company, introduced a new product, “MetaCell Cloud Hosting,” that provides advanced cloud computing solutions specifically designed for life science and healthcare organizations in order to facilitate research and innovation.
- In July 2021, Amazon Web Services, Inc. announced the general availability of Amazon HealthLake to enable healthcare organizations to store, transform, and query health data in the cloud using machine learning for a complete picture of the patient and population health.
Future of cloud computing in healthcare
The Healthcare Cloud Computing Market is expected to observe phenomenal growth in the coming years owing to the growing pressure and demand on the healthcare system due to the rising prevalence of chronic diseases and the growth in the aging population. Moreover, the rising awareness about the digital tools and techniques, big data, telemedicine technologies, will make an impact on the Healthcare Cloud Computing Market growth.
Additionally, favorable approaches and policies by the governments, the rise in investments in the healthcare sector by several private and public organizations, and the technological advancement in the IT segment will also contribute immensely to the growth of Cloud Computing in the healthcare industry.