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Healthcare in the Cloud

Healthcare in the Cloud

Blue folder with cloud.

Cloud-based services are becoming more widely adopted by healthcare organizations. The past year has seen a surge of interest regarding the potential of cloud computing with many organizations set to start moving healthcare-related applications across to cloud platforms.

A recent survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics about cloud computing adoption in healthcare provider organizations found that 83% of IT executives report they are currently using cloud services, with SaaS-based applications being the most popular (66.9%).

The accelerating migration to cloud computing represents a change for the way the healthcare industry sources its IT. Basically, healthcare is moving to a digital platform, becoming more patient-centered and data-driven. Large international players such as Microsoft, Philips, Verizon and others have launched cloud-based solutions targeting the healthcare sector, and the global trend is that cloud solutions are supporting greater sharing and accessibility of health data.

Let’s take a look at some of the healthcare areas that benefit the most from the cloud:

  • Medical imaging – Is one of the most productive uses of cloud in healthcare. By using a cloud solution for storing and sharing large data files involved in medical imaging we save costs for hospitals, physicians and other organizations in healthcare while boosting speed and efficiency.
  • Mobility –Another benefit is certainly mobility, whereby the cloud infrastructure is providing the backbone for medical personnel to access all sorts of information from any location and from a whole set of devices.
  • Collaboration among peers – Technology can provide medical assistance to doctors in the field, be it in remote areas or in emergency relief operations through satellite communications. This can be exemplified by the recent announcement from IBM and the Boston Children Hospital, creating “the world’s first cloud-based global education technology platform to transform how pediatric medicine is taught and practiced around the world. The initiative aims to improve the exchange of medical knowledge on the care of critically ill children, no matter where they live.”
  • Collaboration with patients – Patient records are now available anywhere, anytime for healthcare professionals, reducing the time for initial diagnosis and allowing physicians to access critical historical data and adjust their diagnosis based on informed decisions.

A few examples of this new paradigm are:

  • Physician Collaboration Solutions (PCS) – These solutions facilitate remote consultations and care continuity, allowing patients to be remotely visited. It also offers video conferencing, allowing physicians to visit patients in far out areas. This technique is also called “tele-health solutions.”
  • Health Information Exchange (HIE) – This allows for the healthcare information to be shared electronically across organizations within a region, community or hospital system.
  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR) – All information pertaining to a specific patient or a segment of the population is recorded and stored. The solution is designed to capture and provide a patient’s data at any time of the patient’s monitoring cycle, including the complete medical records and history.

As healthcare organizations consider the opportunities and risks surrounding cloud computing, they have to keep in mind that their competitors are probably evaluating cloud solutions right now, and quite possibly, adopting them. The healthcare industry’s migration to cloud is inevitable, and it’s only a matter of time before all healthcare organizations embrace cloud computing.

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