How cloud technology is transforming the healthcare industry

All over the world, many governments face countless issues in their quest for a digitised health service. The healthcare system, as a whole, faces unprecedented challenges, thanks to a reduction in resources – both in terms of staff and finance – as well as rising expectations and an escalating demand for digitised services.

All of this places the current models of healthcare under increasing strain. At a time when the healthcare sector is tasked with delivering greater operational efficiency through digital transformation, there’s an increasing pressure to consistently deliver a better service to patients.

>See also: Top cloud security risks for healthcare

The challenges faced by the healthcare industry can perhaps be better visualised when considering the process of version control when it comes to managing millions of electronic patient records, integrating social and health care information, and developing the infrastructure to connect the countless trusts, hospitals, surgeries, and clinics.

This is where the power of the cloud comes in: Cloud computing is changing the way doctors, nurses, clinics, and hospitals deliver quality, cost-effective services to their patients. This transition is being driven by two forces: the economic imperative to cut costs and to improve the quality of patient care. The cloud has the capacity to revolutionise healthcare, rendering it more efficient through a decentralised approach, and improving the patient experience by providing services comparable to those offered by internal IT organisations — yet at significantly lower costs.

In the past, by keeping everything centralised, healthcare organisations had to acquire and maintain all the requisite hardware, software, and relevant staff — regardless of whether or not these resources were used at full capacity, and often insecurely. After all, in the UK at least, the NHS wouldn’t have suffered the effects of WannaCry were it not for out-of-date software running on the likes of Windows XP.

Today, the use of cloud technology — namely its ability to efficiently process and deliver data in a collaborative fashion plus analysing data into meaningful information — has the ability to relieve the challenges. By using cloud services, healthcare organisations only need to pay for what they use, such as storage, applications, and infrastructure service.

>See also: The future of healthcare lies in the clouds

Another key benefit of the cloud for the healthcare industry is flexibility, as providers can scale resources up or down as needed. The cloud provides real-time and remote access to applications and resources in a way that’s easy to use. Additionally, it reduces the total deployment time of rolling out new applications.

However, for the cloud to truly deliver, the underlying network infrastructure has to be secure and fit-for-purpose. When it comes to the NHS, for example, there’s no use creating world-class clinical applications if the infrastructure that underpins such applications impedes performance. As such, a unified approach to Cloud, connectivity, and communications is vital.

This is because, while it’s great to release the healthcare industry from its legacy past through digital solutions, the future of the NHS and other healthcare organisations will only be as good as their network infrastructure.

For leaders within such organisations, the risk of a public data breach – and consequent loss of public trust – should be plenty of motivation to focus their efforts on digitisation. Certainly, for the healthcare industry, it’s impossible to continue operating at a safe standard using the methods of the past.

>See also: Healthcare will become digitised by 2030 to keep services alive

Returning to the NHS, it’s no secret that patient numbers are at a record high, due to an ageing population and medical innovations – and this looks set only to rise further. As such, staff find themselves faced with an unparalleled amount of data to sift through, as the move to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) develops. What this means is that the NHS can implement cloud-based digital technologies that will benefit both staff and patients alike.

Seemingly simple things such as making sure that data is in the right place and analysed into information, at the right time, and across multiple devices – all in a secure manner – will improve the patient journey immeasurably. None of this would be possible without the cloud, but it’s important to note that these benefits stem from the ability to deliver multiple services over one unified network infrastructure.

Enabling different healthcare organisations to securely aggregate their connectivity requirements brings not only new found agility, but also significant cost savings. These savings arise from the money saved on previously mentioned legacy issues, such as unnecessary hardware and superfluous personnel.

>See also: How can mobile technology improve the future of healthcare?

Ultimately, however, healthcare organisations cannot enforce a cloud-focused culture shift in isolation. In order to ensure that such technology is genuinely transformational, organisations could outsource some of their IT needs to expert external providers, which have had proven success in providing cutting-edge technology to solutions to both the public and private sector.

When it comes to building and implementing cloud-powered digitisation, such providers should adopt a consultative role while also assisting with staff training. Undoubtedly, for those in charge of IT services within healthcare organisations, partnering with an expert provider with a focus on infrastructure will make their cloud technology more efficient, agile, and secure. Healthcare staff and patients alike will cherish this upgrade, enjoying cost-savings and improved care in equal measure.

 

Sourced by By Afshin Attari, director of Public Sector at Exponential-e

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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Cloud Computing
Healthcare