Cloud Healthcare: How Cloud Computing is Disrupting Healthcare (For Good)

Cloud computing is one of the most transformative technologies of our time. The cloud is a simple concept but without which most of the technologies we enjoy now would be impossible or outrageously expensive. Can you imagine for example how we would enjoy social media without the cloud. Where would we upload all those nice pictures and videos? Cloud computing has quietly changed the way we live, socialize and work for the better. 

In the healthcare sector, cloud computing is making it possible to achieve outcomes that were once unthinkable. Here, we explore how cloud computing is transforming healthcare,  the benefits it has to offer and the future. 

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a technology that enables users to access data and applications over the Internet without installing software. You simply access what you need, when you need it, from a web browser.

Because the applications run in a data center instead of your computer, you can use them from any device with a web browser, including smartphones and tablets.

For example, if you want to create a document, you can open a word processing program that is stored on a remote server. This way, you don’t have to worry about filling up your computer’s hard drive. 

Cloud computing relies on sharing resources

A key pillar of cloud computing is the sharing of resources. Being internet based, the cloud computing technology provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. 

This model enables ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (such as networks, servers, storage, applications, and services). This allows users to access these resources as needed from any location over the Internet.

Who provides cloud computing?

Cloud computing services are provided by third-party companies known as cloud providers. These providers offer a range of services, including storage, computing power, and software. 

You can usually choose from a variety of plans depending on your needs. For example, you might need more storage if you’re backing up photos or videos, or you might need more computing power if you’re running a business application.

This is a departure from the traditional way, which requires users to save files on their local computer or device. 

What is Healthcare Cloud Computing?

Healthcare cloud computing is the term given to the use of cloud-based technology in the healthcare industry. The cloud allows for secure sharing of data between hospitals, clinics, and other care providers. 

It also allows for easier storage and retrieval of patient data, which can be invaluable in a time-sensitive medical emergency. Additionally, the cloud can be used to provide remote patient monitoring and support, which can improve outcomes while reducing costs.

We’ll now dive deep into cloud healthcare;

How Cloud Computing is used in Hospitals

Cloud computing in healthcare has provided the perfect environment to develop innovative applications and services that are transforming how healthcare is delivered. It has already proved to be a valuable tool for the healthcare industry. 

Here are some of the exciting ways hospitals are using cloud services;

Communication

Hospitals are using cloud computing to communicate with other hospitals and doctors. Cloud-based communication systems allow medical professionals to easily connect with one another regardless of their location. This is particularly valuable in emergencies when time is of the utmost essence. 

Storage and management of patient data 

Cloud computing is helping healthcare providers manage and store patients’ data without worrying about the frustrating complexities of paper files. 

The cloud provides a secure place for providers to store data, which can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. This reduces the time it takes to find patient information and improve care coordination between providers. 

Furthermore, by storing data on the cloud, hospitals can reduce their reliance on paper records, which are often difficult to manage and keep track of. 

Research

Many hospitals are now using cloud-based applications and platforms for clinical research and patient care management. 

Specifically, eClinical products are increasingly used to manage various aspects of clinical trials. They can be accessed by researchers from anywhere and provide real-time data that can be used to make informed decisions about patient care. 

Diagnosis

There is a lot of discussion in the medical community about the use of cloud computing to support diagnosis. The biggest benefit of using the cloud for this purpose is that it would allow real-time sharing of data between doctors and hospitals around the world. This could help improve diagnosis for patients.

However, there are some concerns about using cloud computing for this purpose. One worry is that personal health information could be accessed by unauthorized individuals. Another concern is that cloud computing systems may not be as reliable as traditional hospital networks, which could lead to incorrect diagnoses. 

These are genuine concerns that luckily, stakeholders are certainly dealing with and should form the basis of a formidable cloud healthcare that protects patient data. 

What are the Benefits of Cloud Computing in Healthcare?

There is a thin line between benefits and uses, because the benefits are ordinarily derived from the uses. For purposes of this post, we view benefits as the positive outcomes of the uses above. Based on this, here are the key cloud computing healthcare benefits

Healthcare cloud computing reduces costs

By storing medical records and other data in the cloud, hospitals can save money on physical storage, equipment and maintenance costs. 

They can also save money on staff time by having employees access data remotely instead of having to go to a physical machine to do so.  

The good news is that these savings are earned while also allowing healthcare providers to save time and focus on their core mission: providing quality healthcare.

Cloud computing in healthcare increases efficiency

By moving to the cloud, health organizations can improve efficiency through centralized data management and streamlined workflow processes. 

For example, cloud-based applications can help reduce the need for on-premises hardware and software, automatically leading to efficiency.

As a result of improved efficiency, healthcare organizations can quickly scale their operations up or down as needed, making it easier to manage patient volume fluctuations. 

Cloud computing in healthcare saves lives

Cloud computing can save lives because it provides hospitals and other healthcare providers with the ability to share information quickly and securely.

For example, by using cloud-based tools, a doctor in one hospital can access a patient’s medical records from another hospital in real time. 

This makes it easier for doctors to treat patients who are being transferred between hospitals. This plays a huge role in preventing mistakes that can occur when doctors are working with incomplete or inaccurate information.

Cloud healthcare conserves the environment

Cloud computing in healthcare helps to protect the environment by reducing the need for hardware. 

For example, if a hospital stores all their data on local hard drives, it will need personal computers to access that data. But if you store your data in the cloud, you can access it from any device with an internet connection. This not only reduces the amount of energy needed to power personal computers, but it also reduces the amount of waste produced by these devices.

Healthcare facilities account for a large percentage of energy use. For example, a single hospital in the United States can consume up to 30 kWh and 103,000 Btu of electricity and natural gas respectively per square foot yearly. The use of healthcare cloud computing can help reduce this consumption by enabling hospitals to share resources and use less power-intensive devices.

Cloud computing helps in detection of public health threats

Healthcare cloud computing can provide powerful tools for public health officials to detect and track potential health threats. By collecting and analyzing large amounts of medical data, algorithms can be used to identify patterns and trends that might otherwise be missed. 

This information can then be used to develop strategies for preventing or responding to epidemics. In some cases, cloud-based systems can even provide real-time alerts about emerging threats.

Cloud computing improves decision making

Cloud computing in healthcare industry can improve decision making through real-time data analytics. These analytics can help hospital staff make better decisions about patient care by aggregating data from multiple sources in a secure and efficient manner.

This means that clinicians can get real-time feedback on patient treatment, which can help them make better decisions about treatment plans.

Cloud solutions for healthcare protects patient data

Cloud solutions often offer enhanced security features, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication, which can help keep sensitive patient data safe. 

To protect against patient data losses during disasters, healthcare organizations can utilize technologies such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

Cloud computing improves collaboration in healthcare industry

Cloud-based solutions typically offer superior collaboration features, which can be invaluable for hospitals that need to share patient information across different departments or with partners outside of the organization.

In addition, cloud-based technologies are making it possible for patients to have greater access to their own health data. Through apps and portals, patients can view test results, and collaborate with their care providers. This empowered approach to healthcare is giving patients more control over their health and wellbeing.

Which Clouds are used in Healthcare?

There are three main types of clouds. These are public, private, and hybrid. 

Public clouds are owned and operated by a service provider and made available to the general public. Private clouds are owned and managed by a single organization for their own private use, and hybrid clouds combine elements of both public and private clouds.

Healthcare providers can use any of the clouds or a combination, depending on their needs or objectives. 

What are the Common Cloud Solutions for Healthcare?

Some of the most commonly used cloud-based solutions in the healthcare industry include electronic health records (EHRs), medical imaging, and telehealth.

A brief look at each;

Cloud solutions for electronic health records (EHRs)

Cloud-based EHRs allow doctors and other healthcare providers to access a patient’s medical history from any location or device with an internet connection. This can be particularly useful in emergency situations when time is of the essence. A good example is where a doctor is on call and needs to see a patient’s medical history quickly.

Cloud-based EHRs also allow healthcare providers to track patients’ health outcomes and see how patients respond to certain treatments. This helps healthcare providers make better decisions about treatments for their patients.

Cloud solutions for medical imaging

Cloud-based medical imaging refers to the use of cloud computing technology to create, store and access medical images which are visual representations of the human body for medical purposes. 

The imaging can be done using X-rays, MRI, ultrasound, or CT scans via a central server or through a distributed system.

This kind of medical imaging allows doctors to view images of a patient’s scans or x-rays from anywhere in the world, which can be especially helpful for consultation with other specialists. 

Cloud solutions for telehealth

Telehealth is the use of telecommunications and information technologies to provide essential health care services to patients remotely when they are unable to see a doctor in person.

Typically, telehealth services are used for people who live in remote or rural areas, or for those who have difficulty accessing healthcare services due to transportation challenges or other reasons. It enables patients to receive care from anywhere at any time, and providers to offer care to more patients without having to sacrifice quality or accessibility. 

Cloud-based telehealth platforms allow for real-time video conferencing between patients and clinicians, as well as the sharing of medical images and other health data. Cloud-powered telehealth has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its affordability and flexibility.

Here are the most significant trends that are shaping cloud solutions for healthcare in a big way; 

  1. The increasing use of big data analytics in healthcare: Cloud computing is providing healthcare providers with the ability to harness the power of big data analytics to support preventive health and improve patient care. This includes everything from analyzing patient data to predicting outbreaks of epidemics.
  2. The need for cybersecurity:  Healthcare providers are realizing that they need to incorporate Cybersecurity across any cloud solution for healthcare to protect the privacy and security of patients’ medical information. Identity thieves love medical information. A person’s health insurance policy number, date of birth, and Social Security number are just a few of the pieces of information that can be used by identity thieves to commit healthcare fraud. 
  3. Growing demand for cloud talent: To effectively harness the benefits of cloud computing in healthcare, it is important that the right cloud talent is in place. Doctors and nurses need the support of cloud experts and specialists who can help to manage and maintain the cloud infrastructure. They also need people who can develop applications that can be used in a clinical setting, as well as those who understand the security and privacy implications of using the cloud in healthcare.

What Challenges Does Cloud Computing Face in Healthcare?

One of the biggest challenges that cloud computing currently faces in healthcare  is data security and privacy. Healthcare providers are extremely careful with their patient data and can be hesitant to store information in the cloud due to security concerns. 

Another challenge is compliance. Healthcare providers are required to meet a number of compliance regulations, and many are unsure if cloud computing can meet these requirements. There is also some concern around the reliability of cloud-based systems, as outages can have serious consequences in the healthcare industry. 

Despite these challenges, cloud computing is rapidly gaining traction in the healthcare sector thanks to the many benefits it offers. As a result, many healthcare organizations are investing in cloud solutions for healthcare to help them improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide better care for their patients.  

What is the Future of Cloud Computing in Healthcare?

The future of cloud computing in healthcare looks promising as the market is expected to grow to a record 140 Billion by 2028. 

A huge benefit that cloud computing will continue to deliver to the healthcare sector is increased efficiency and cost savings. With healthcare costs rising rapidly, anything that can help create a more efficient and cost-effective medical care system is greatly needed.

As a result, cloud computing will steadily disrupt key aspects of the healthcare industry, particularly patient record management, disease surveillance, telemedicine, and so on. The results have been very encouraging so far, with forward looking healthcare organizations now investing in cloud-based solutions on a larger scale. 

How Can My Organization Get Started with Cloud Computing in Healthcare?

First and foremost, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the cloud and what it can do for your healthcare business. 

Once you have a solid understanding of the cloud and what it has to offer, you need to start thinking about your specific needs and how the cloud can help address them. From there, you can start looking for the right healthcare cloud solution provider for your organization. 

It’s important to note that not all cloud providers are equal, so it’s crucial to do your research and find one that fits your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

The cloud has the potential to completely overhaul how healthcare is delivered, making it more efficient, cost-effective, and patient-centered. 

These cloud computing healthcare benefits will certainly continue to transform the healthcare industry in more amazing ways.This is the right time to get in. 

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