Healthcare has seen a remarkable shift in cloud computing, abandoning simple data storage in favor of robust technology that can improve efficiency, lower costs, and assist in the personalization of patient care.
This shift has been so widespread that over 90 percent of healthcare CIOs have sought out staff that can help configure, manage, and support cloud computing infrastructure that is HIPAA-compliant.
These CIOs want to keep up with the service offerings of cloud technology vendors, like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, which are constantly changing and improving. Cloud computing advancements have already yielded more agile and nimble products and services in conjunction with the rapid increase in available healthcare data.
As the cloud computing landscape continues to change, healthcare CIOs must be prepared to lead the way. Otherwise, tech vendors could drive the next phase of data channeled through health systems.
Blockchain and Security
As healthcare organizations and technology vendors move into the next generation of cloud computing, security is a major point of consideration.
Cloud providers must perform frequent regulatory audits to ensure that security requirements are being met effectively. Cloud computing must offer very strict asset access and facility controls by way of token-based and biometric security protocols.
If a health system employs multiple EHRs, it could lead to issues with patient safety and patient identification. As Blockchain technology becomes more promising, its use for security and records in the cloud becomes more of an option. Healthcare’s relationship with the cloud means that cybersecurity measures are more critical than ever.
Hospitals now understand that they have unique needs when it comes to risk management, increased governance, and business continuity measures. Many organizations are working to find the best ways to apply Blockchain technology to these needs, so expect to see it become commonplace in the near future.
The next generation of cloud computing has healthcare organizations realizing that cutting-edge patient care will require investing in real-time data. Healthcare organizations that want to be forward-thinking must embrace technology wholly, at every point in the care cycle.
In particular, this strategy should include web-based technologies that connect provide comprehensive engagement at the clinical level between the provider and patient. This should not stop with EHR strategies, but should extend to mobile applications and Internet-based access points that integrate data from the clinical ecosystem.
In the healthcare industry, it’s quite common for data to be fragmented, siloed, or incomplete. If hospitals are committed to investing in real-time data, they must also do so for information sharing and data partnering. It’s important for providers to have access to all the necessary data. How else can they understand what is best for patients? Data sharing will help providers gain a comprehensive understanding of how treatment is impacting a patient’s disease state.
To generate a holistic view of a patient’s history, healthcare organizations must find ways to obtain and merge information from physicians, pharmacies, insurance companies, and even patients themselves. The infrastructure and tools must be built, but they won’t be effective without partnerships that secure valuable information.
The next steps for cloud technology in healthcare are for healthcare organizations and cloud services vendors alike to adapt, collaborate, and optimize.
Adapting is simple enough to understand, but there’s a lot that must go into it. For cloud models, like IaaS and SaaS, to be widely adopted in the healthcare industry, organizations and cloud services providers must adapt. Cloud service providers have been strict with one-size-fits-all models of provisioning storage, networking, security, and more. They must lose this rigidity and cater to the unique needs of healthcare applications.
Cloud services providers can benefit the industry by using their expertise to construct a bridge to cloud technology. Healthcare providers play an important part in the process by looking inward and conducting assessments that analyze their existing platforms. These assessments help uncover means of aggregation and consolidation that make for a successful and structured adoption of a cloud model.
Collaboration is also essential to adaptation. Vendors must recognize that they can’t sign an agreement and then leave the customer to handle design and provisioning. On the healthcare provider side, they must let go of the “we’ll fix it in hardware” approach and work to consider the holistic needs of systems that can benefit from cloud migration.
The end goal is optimization. The cloud computing model has the power to improve security, availability, and recoverability for the healthcare industry. This model can also develop new efficiencies.
There is much work to be done by the healthcare provider and the cloud services provider.
It’s possible that next-generation cloud setups will heavily rely on hybrid cloud technologies. A hybrid cloud combines private and public cloud technology to generate a secure cloud computing environment. Healthcare organizations should embrace the hybrid cloud as they move toward the next generation of technology.
It’s no secret that healthcare organizations and clinical labs want their own private environments and don’t trust public cloud providers to properly secure their data. Naturally, this is a huge problem for cloud adoption. However, lost devices and stolen passwords are more likely to be a security risk than a cloud breach.
Cloud experts specialize in developing secure cloud platforms, and trusting these external sources can lighten the load of a healthcare organization that would otherwise have to build and secure entire environments.
Healthcare organizations must also design with flexibility in mind when it comes to the cloud. Cloud architectures must have built-in flexibility in order to benefit from and take advantage of future circumstances. Some of these circumstances might be changes in business priority, beneficial financial offerings, or new technologies.
Due to this need, the cloud must be easily adaptable so it can be changed without disrupting the organization. IT leaders must consider as many scenarios as possible in order to maximize flexibility for the future.