As healthcare enters a new era of digitalisation, outdated systems, access to data and patient satisfaction are facing an overhaul — but is cloud technology the answer?
Cloud technology is by no means a new concept and has many benefits for both patients and staff. The global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to hit $35 billion by 2022 and adopting it will help you on your digital health journey.
As businesses increasingly move towards cloud-based software, it is clear that technology has many benefits. We have collated the key benefits of cloud computing in the healthcare industry for you to consider.
Opportunities for Upgrading Current Solutions
Offering a centralised location for the storage and access of all of your data, applications and records, cloud computing can create greater efficiencies by making everything easier to access.
As the NHS embarks on its digital transformation journey, cloud computing becomes a natural part of the equation. It allows for a better, more streamlined service for healthcare patients and a more efficient employee experience.
Gone are the days of needing paper records for everything, with digitalisation benefitting both employees and patients and their access to data. Cloud computing can improve the quality, safety and efficiency of medical services.
One of the key benefits of cloud software is the collaboration opportunities it creates for healthcare bodies.
Not only does cloud technology streamline the majority of processes, but having a centralised data location also allows for greater collaboration between departments and locations. This will enable them to share and access critical information quickly and easily.
This became particularly necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. As patients tried to access healthcare services remotely and healthcare bodies needed to become more agile to meet the increased demand, cloud services offered the ability to scale and meet the needs of patients and staff when they needed it the most.
Reliable Data Transfer and Analytics
Data and records are critical for any organisation, but it is vital for the healthcare sector. 95% of physicians believe increased data interoperability will ultimately help improve patient outcomes, showing that cloud computing can help revolutionise digital health for the better.
Cloud technology benefits organisations by allowing for reliable transfer and data analysis. Accessing databases from multiple departments and estates creates efficiencies and agility. It also allows for greater data analysis to inform future decisions and actions.
Patients' Access to Their Data
As the public becomes more aware and cautious of data safety, patients must be able to access their data if and when they need it.
Operating on a cloud-based system means patients can access their data and records whenever they want. This can also benefit other healthcare bodies by helping patients have accurate information on their health.
Once again, this became particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. As face-to-face appointments and access to healthcare were limited, cloud-based systems allowed patients to access information, appointments and information remotely, ensuring medical help was still available should they need it.
Optimises Hospital Estates Management
Perhaps the most popular benefit of cloud computing is that you can access the cloud no matter where you are. This helps for the more efficient transfer and use of data between departments, sites and locations on one cohesive system, which helps optimise hospital estate management.
When faced with tight budgets and timeframes, the cost needs to be considered. Cloud technology offers the healthcare sector the opportunity to significantly reduce its data storage costs in many ways.
Operating on a cloud-based system creates greater efficiencies within hospitals by spending less time on data management, allowing staff to be more agile and serve their patients' needs.
In addition to this, by eliminating the need to have private systems to store data and trained staff to monitor, maintain and control them, cloud technology can help reduce data storage costs.
This also links to the reduction of scaling costs. Cloud technology packages allow you to simply scale up the amount of storage without the need to do anything physical to your IT infrastructure.
Cloud technology creates the ability to seamlessly integrate systems, allowing you to have one cohesive IT infrastructure by bringing multiple cloud environments together. As a result, there will be complete, centralised access for all those who need it and one overarching user experience, meaning everyone will know how to use it.
Depending on patient needs and demand, you may need to increase and decrease data storage in the healthcare sector. Cloud solutions use economies of scale to drive down data management costs for their customers, meaning it is simple to upgrade your data allowance and reduce physical scaling costs.
The majority of cloud technology companies work on a pay-as-you-go cost structure, so you only pay for what you need at any one time.
If you did not operate with cloud technology, an in-house system would mean you would have to predict the amount of storage you will need further down the line without guessing this amount at the point of set-up.
While there are many benefits to cloud computing that can change your healthcare organisation for the better, it does not come without its barriers. We have identified some of these disadvantages to help you plan for their occurrence and mitigate the risks they may potentially bring.
Security Concerns and Compliance Issues
There are several security concerns to take into account when considering cloud technology. These range from the lack of data visibility within cloud applications to the theft or misuse of data.
While all security issues are serious, it is almost impossible to eliminate any security risk, no matter the systems you use. On the other side of the argument, cloud technology offers greater security when considering outdated or internal ways of operating.
On-site data storage would still require protection and expertise that may be less equipped to deal with security risks. With traditional ways of working, such as physical paper storage, anyone can access this information at any time.
When everything works within one network, it can mean an outage makes everything go down at once. This can incapacitate businesses, leading to damage to operations and reputation.
No matter the superiority of the cloud provider, organisations are still vulnerable. Although outages are rare, it is crucial to have a contingency plan to ensure you are prepared, but outages are rare. To mitigate this risk, ensure you have a contingency plan in place should you need it.
Why You Should Consider Cloud Technology for Healthcare
There is little doubt that cloud technology is the way forward for healthcare organisations.
You cannot ignore the level of benefits it offers towards efficiencies, agility, patient happiness and employee experience. It is also a key driver of technological transformation within the sector.
Although there are many benefits, it is essential to consider the barriers. When considering patient healthcare data, security and access are paramount. Keep this in mind when considering your potential cloud partners and their credentials.
However, there are very few options that come without risks. As long as you account for them, you can argue the benefits of cloud technology for healthcare far outweigh the barriers.
Want to Learn More?
Find out more about technology developments within the healthcare sector by signing up for our newsletter, where you can access all the latest healthcare innovation news, free content and more.