Benefits, Challenges, and Examples of Cloud Technology Application in Healthcare
By Michael Dunlop
Cloud technology application in healthcare is not new. Back in 2015, we created a post on cloud usage in healthcare, where we researched this topic and predicted that we will see the growth of this industry. And now in 2019, we see that we were right. Let us see what as changed in this area with time.
What are the benefits of using cloud technology in healthcare?
Although not yet fully implemented, cloud computing is popular with healthcare because it offers a lot of positive features that are essentials for improving the medical industry.
Improved data management and storage
It goes without saying that the healthcare industry deals with a lot of data that needs to be stored somewhere. And cloud data storage capacity is one of the biggest advantages of adopting cloud technology in this industry. Plus, keeping records on the cloud allows analyzing the data, which in its turn can help prevent major disease outbreaks.
Mobility and speed
For hardware servers, we run a speed test to verify if the connection is speedy enough, but it is a fact that cloud computing offers faster connection and access to required information, which oftentimes is key in healthcare. Additionally, storing data on the cloud allows healthcare professionals to be able to access it from anywhere at any given time. It also enhances more efficient collaboration between them, as information is synchronized in real-time. This way doctors can easily view samples, lab results, and share notes, which significantly improves patient care.
Compared to supercomputers, cloud computing costs far less. Also, upgrades of any of the various features of cloud tools are both faster and cheaper than those done for hardware solutions.
Challenges and risks of cloud application in healthcare
Even though cloud technology has many advantages for healthcare, nevertheless, there is a number of risks and challenges that slow down the transition process to the new system completely. The biggest ones of them are the following:
Whatever cloud solution healthcare organizations decide to use, it must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for secure data portability. It means that these principles should not only be understood and followed by medical facilities, but by cloud technology vendors as well. However, there are many cloud providers on the market now who offer HIPAA compliance.
Data breaches pose a big risk for cloud technology. Health records of patient information contain a lot of personal data that is sought after by hackers and can be used for identity theft or other types of cybercrime. Needless to say that the privacy of their data is a major concern for many patients. This is especially true when health records need transferring from one organization to another. The best solution to overcome this challenge is to choose a vendor who provides the highest possible level of security. It is also worth mentioning that despite a common misconception, GDPR is applicable not only to the European companies but to any company that processes data about EU residents.
Although cloud technology has been on the market for a while and more and more companies are using it, still, it is quite different from what most people working in the healthcare industry are used to. The old record-keeping system may be a bit outdated, but it is reliable, and for some, it may be hard to let go of it. That is why the transition to an entirely different system can be a real challenge.
Examples of cloud technology usage in healthcare
Even though most medical facilities have not switched to the cloud completely, this technology is widely used in the industry. First of all, many institutions run their websites in the cloud, as it is more convenient than using hardware servers. The most common application of cloud technology is conducting research and analyzing the collected data.
Some companies utilize it for clinical trial simulations or faster cancer samples processing.
A more advanced application is using cloud computing for machine learning and artificial intelligence since these options are integrated into some cloud platforms. They allow tracking patterns that previously have not been identified by people.
There’s no denying that cloud technology offers significant advantages for healthcare, and although there are still certain challenges to be dealt with, its application in the industry is integral for patient care improvement.