Challenges Facing the Health Sector

Technology continues to evolve and so does the expectation of citizens. We all now expect online services to be instant and readily available on any device at any given time. Much work has been done in the private sector with examples such as Netflix and Uber springing to mind. These all have one thing in common, convenience for the user. Therefore, quite rightly, citizens are now expecting the same levels of service in everything in their lives, including access to health care. Patients would like, where appropriate, the ability to self-diagnose for reassurance without needing an appointment with a GP.

Similarly, healthcare providers would like to be able to do more interesting things such as use more data-driven technologies like AI to assist with early and proactive diagnosis, use remote sensors and voice assistants to support people away from healthcare physical locations. So, what is stopping this from happening?

Many things, but ultimately it boils down to health organisations trying to do more with less. Demand continues to grow at a rate that outstrips capacity. Technology can assist, however Gartner quote that “80% of IT resources are spent keeping the lights on and managing day-to-day activities”. This leaves little scope for implementing or even trying new technologies and strategies.

When I speak with CIO’s, the theme that keeps coming up is “we know we need to do more, but don’t know how or where to start?” NHS trusts typically attempt to do things themselves such as set up the compute and storage and are finding this is an expensive and long process. This is where I usually step in and provide my thoughts on cloud and how it can overcome these challenges. 

Cloud computing has been revolutionising the IT industry for a number of years and actually powers the online services I mentioned earlier. There are several benefits that cloud can bring but I think the most relevant in healthcare is the cost savings, agility and futureproofing that it enables.

Cloud provides a way for health organisations to store, mine and use the masses of data that is readily available at a far lower cost than its on-premises counterpart. Take Genomics England as an excellent working example as they analyse DNA codes leading to earlier diagnosis of cancer. At peak Genomics England were storing 21PB of data that was integrated into the cloud environment ready for analysis. Cloud also helps accelerate digital outcomes as it facilitates quick application development without the cost commitment that is usually associated. In this way, health providers can start to create more modern services such as online patient services that enhance and improve the experience for patients.

The final sticking point surrounding cloud is security and data protection. Certainly, a valid and crucial point that can be answered by using a cloud provider that abides by data rules and has accreditations and certifications in place. This for me, is where UKCloud really shines by providing a UK sovereign cloud platform that can power these workloads and provides the assurance of ISOs, adherence to key health standards and is subject to regular testing.  We also pride ourselves on the whole journey that looks to take our customers through the entire life cycle of cloud adoption as an enabler to digital transformation. 

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