The state of the cloud in healthcare

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Jessica Hall, a writer for Insight Enterprises

In comparison to other industries, companies in the healthcare sector often underutilize cloud technology, which can make them more nimble, secure and cost-effective. Infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals will agree that cloud computing not only transforms and modernizes a company’s approach, but it’s also the perfect solution to three common problems in the industry.

The reliance on paper records is burdensome.

While many healthcare organizations continue to rely on physical copies of medical records, digital copies hosted in the cloud can solve the myriad problems that the traditional model presents. One of the biggest problems related to the reliance on paper is that information is susceptible to destruction. If a fire devastates your building or a paper record is lost, they can’t be recovered easily.

In the cloud, your data will typically go through multiple back-ups on a number of servers, allowing you to retrieve information effortlessly. Additionally, you’re safeguarded against service disruption if you select a provider who distributes your digital assets among numerous data centers, ensuring events that impact one part of the globe won’t affect your company.

Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery uses cloud-based tools to document critical information related to patient procedures. With drop-down menus instead of a pen and paper, they’re able to record information faster, leading to a better and less time-consuming patient evaluation.

Digital information isn’t portable.

Moving from paper medical records to digitized information doesn’t always help, as this new format isn’t always transferable or easy to share with other healthcare professionals. With the ability to manage documents from a variety of devices and easily share content, the cloud ensures that information can be disseminated in a quick and convenient manner. In shifting to the cloud, not only can you solve the problem of portability, but you can also free up valuable resources because the provider is responsible for maintenance, upgrades and staffing.

At Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, their employees need to access company information anytime and anywhere. Leveraging a cloud-based solution, they create documents on a variety of devices — PCs, iPads, laptops or smartphones — and store those documents online, allowing them to seamlessly share critical insights.

Providers are offering robust solutions to help achieve not only portability, but also accessibility and increased processing capabilities. For example, GE’s Health Cloud allows users to access radiology records from any device and combine resources from GE’s hundreds of computing centers to analyze data much faster than with the systems hospitals are currently utilizing. With this tool, what used to take four to five hours can now be done in five minutes as healthcare professionals can run several algorithms on a data set as opposed to just one.

According to Forrester’s recent report, “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015,” which was published December 1, 2015: “Building an app that spends its entire life in the same public cloud is the ideal cloud application model. Stepping outside of this model is more realistic, but it presents challenges for I&O professionals.”

Collaboration and coordination are limited.

Cloud technology can be leveraged to enhance relationships and streamline scheduling between patients and physicians, as well as to collaborate and coordinate with other healthcare professionals. Cloud-based tools like Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be helpful in undercutting silos because the solution offers consistent and comparable data across business units and systems.

Seeing an opportunity to streamline operations and scheduling, August Systems created a cloud-based application for home healthcare organizations, allowing them to increase efficiencies in booking caregivers, electronically verify visits in the field, and automate billing, payroll and invoicing functions.

If you’re thinking about transitioning to the cloud, you’ll need a solid comprehension of the benefits and risks to set clear and reasonable expectations with your provider. The various models of service delivery should also be considered and discussed.

As Forrester’s “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015” report points out: “The cloud conversation often centers on connectivity and movement of apps, increasing interest in open source tooling to bypass aspects of vendor lock-in, excitement around containers or API management.” This useful document scores the maturity of, “…each interoperability and migration category,” allowing you to make an informed choice.

Explore solutions for planning a migration to the cloud, or making changes to your existing cloud environments and applications. As your healthcare organization evaluates and plans for new IT services, consider the four reasons our experts believe partial or total delivery via the cloud could be a viable option.

 

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