The cloud healthcare ecosystem is a result of technological developments in recent years. It will have a defining impact on healthcare delivery and is for sure here for the long haul.
The key players involved in implementing a cloud in medicine strategy are several. These include the patient, the health care fraternity, and medical billing service providers. Not to mention insurance providers, payers, and clearinghouses too. All would have a definitive role to play for an effective healthcare cloud strategy.
Compliance issues plague the traditional healthcare environment. There are information security challenges, data recovery bottlenecks, data visibility, and portability issues. You would also have to rely on non-expert third-party service providers. You also do not have technical standards for data interoperability.
A cloud strategy will be the answer for streamlined delivery of healthcare. Let’s get our feet wet into how does cloud computing work in healthcare and how it can benefit us. You could read through leisurely or jump to the question that interests you.
Here is the list of topics that we have discussed.
- What is cloud-based health care?
- Why cloud healthcare?
- What is a cloud healthcare care example?
- What does a cloud healthcare solution provider do?
- What is the benefit of traditional healthcare vs. cloud healthcare?
- How does cloud computing in healthcare work for all requirements of healthcare businesses?
- What is the role of cloud healthcare in a health ecosystem?
- What is the infrastructure required to migrate to the cloud?
- What is the throughput, and how soon we would see results?
- What is the budget for migrating to the cloud?
- What are the interoperability issues?
- How can an enterprise prepare for a cloud health Strategy?
What is cloud-based health care?
Consider a health care ecosystem managed on an on-premise server. This includes the EMR and medical billing systems. You would soon see a surge in expenses due to healthcare overheads. You also need to factor maintenance upgrades, backups, and load balancing issues. Space utilization costs for on-premise servers also need to be factored.
In this backdrop, opting for a cloud health strategy would be a viable option. The cloud service provider would manage all the overheads and infrastructure. Cloud health solutions help you focus on rolling out new products and features. The service provider manages the entire infrastructure and telemetry data exchange.
Robust point of care products is being developed. Especially for remote patient monitoring telehealth and telemedicine solutions. The cloud helps bring interoperability and order in healthcare delivery.
Cloud computing in the healthcare industry is a giant shared pool of computing. These storage resources can be well-orchestrated for building healthcare management solutions. They adapt to ever-changing needs, and that’s what makes them awesome.
Cloud solutions allow you to scale or shrink resource capabilities. It helps match the evolving demand and needs!
Why cloud healthcare?
With cloud healthcare, you only pay for the services you use. You also have both upward and downward scalability.
A cloud setting helps optimize data management and process workflows. It also promotes healthcare interoperability solutions. Besides, it helps build robust patient education solutions. Health cloud solutions help you focus on delivering care and improve doctor-patient engagements. Cloud solutions do all the heavy lifting for you!
Most on-premise data centres would take more than a week to provision a virtual machine. It would take even longer to get the necessary authorization. This would make it hard for IT departments to enable on-demand computing recourses. But, a cloud service provider can provision a server when you needed it. You could also run it for as long as they needed it, and then shut it down without needing to bother about the overheads. All you need to do is to pay an ongoing operational cost to the health cloud solutions service provider.
What is a cloud healthcare care example?
Consider a viral flu outbreak that has hit a city. In a regular case, a hospital will have to meet the growing influx of patients. Coping with the requirements for hospital beds, ENT and medical staff would be hard. There would be utter chaos and confusion, and we would get to observe a long queue of frustrated patients!
Contrarily consider a hospital facility with cloud computing for medical applications. You would be able to predict the patient influx and be available with the required resources. Hospital Information Exchange – HIE can handle patient data within the hospital. This ensures prompt execution of patient issues.
Besides, we also have mHealth apps deployed on the cloud. It provides an option to access and communicate health information amongst different units. These healthcare cloud-based apps can run on devices by using cloud resource pools. They also help to establish robust communication protocols. All the more, these solutions follow the latest HIPAA and HL7 requirements.
Across the health continuum, cloud solutions help maintain the integrity of PHI. It is also easy to manage the security and integrity of healthcare data, policies, and systems. You get a robust mechanism for data migration and disaster recovery too.
What does a cloud healthcare solution provider do?
Cloud solution providers are an enabler and disrupter! They are here to drive forward engaging patient experiences. They help you include solutions like blockchain, IoT, in the cloud value chain. They also help build systems that analyze genomic data.
Leveraging machine learning models and chat-bots also help make care delivery more robust. They also help build an array of remote patient monitoring solutions.
Healthcare providers have to cater to an aging population. This population grapple with a shortage of caregivers. Rising costs and evolving consumer expectations are other challenges.
Healthcare provides would help integrate their data from HIS, IoT & mobile devices. The cloud system would then integrate and condition this data. This data is then dished out to providers, payers, billing companies, and pharmacies.
Healthcare providers help build robust healthcare management systems on the cloud. These include services from AWS, Google Compute, and Azure. They help deliver solutions around cloud computing for EHR. Leveraging the power of API’s you can manage interoperable systems to achieve automation.
Cloud solution providers help build reliable, scalable, and secure cloud solutions.
What is benefit Traditional Healthcare vs. cloud healthcare?
Cloud Healthcare gives more importance to changing the world with data. This is possible by moving out of paper-based workflows. Preventive healthcare and improving life through genomics is the USP of cloud healthcare. All this, while improving cloud security in healthcare.
Considering the tsunami of data, it becomes easier to build genomic data platforms. With this data, you can transform healthcare delivery. By comparing the DNA of individuals, you would find at least 5 million differences. It is now possible to sequence these differences. It is easier to understand which of them could cause rare diseases and cancers.
Cloud systems help manage and store patient data generated daily. They also enable efficient lab infrastructure management and reduce inventory leakages.
Cloud BI solutions help manage large volumes of patient data. This includes clinical, financial, and behavioral and research info. Accurate risk evolution solutions provide a more measured approach in clinical decision making.
Cloud solutions enforce operational due diligence in the entire healthcare supply chain. It becomes easier to share the explanation of benefits – EOB reports. This boosts speed and efficiency in the claims process.
Cloud-hosted pharmacy management software helps in providing barcode driven workflows for drug dispensing. It also allows you to establish smart lab inventory controls. They also support the safe delivery of e-prescriptions.
How does cloud computing in healthcare work for all requirements of healthcare businesses?
Physicians need to have access to information round the clock. Healthcare cloud computing caters to this need. Healthcare ecosystems today support virtual workspaces via web portals. It becomes easy for a healthcare provider to interface with the portal. This is possible with an identity manager. On logging in, you have a host of apps to give you access to critical information from any hospital facility.
It is incredible to see the level of technological uptake in healthcare. EHR is going paperless in many hospital facilities. There has also been a rise in the use of smartphones and all kinds of devices. This streamlines communication and helps manage the flow of information.
Electronic forms and e-signatures further simplify workflows. Cloud solutions help to secure patient data. It also becomes easy to commission and decommission devices with PHI on it. Cloud automation and management solutions help identify non-compliant resources. These help quarantine and heal them back into healthcare cloud compliance immediately.
Cloud-based LIMS automates laboratory informatics to streamline regular laboratory operations. This includes managing, tracking, and organizing samples. Cloud solutions support clinical trial sample management. This made possible with the identification and procurement of clinical samples. Efficiency improves a notch further with the delivery of real-time data.
What is the role of cloud healthcare in a health ecosystem?
Cloud platforms must be able to provide secure, scalable, and robust connectivity services. This applies to healthcare devices and mobile apps. Connected health requires connecting millions of health care devices for health information exchange.
This also helps manage medical devices and route them to the right services. This includes firmware updates, remote device control, and advanced telehealth solutions.
Consider an example of an air purifier connected to the health suite. This device monitors and purifies the air. You could also control this device via mobile. Another example would be a connected blood pressure tracker. This can feed measurement data through a home gateway device to the cloud. This data is then, aggregated, and fed back to a mobile device. Giving a person real-time insight into his health.
Clinical information can be paired with bigger health suit digital platforms. You could also establish seamless data sharing. So the patient and care provider can make more informed personalized care decisions.
Cloud computing provider healthcare solutions also help move legacy software onto the cloud. This includes large data repositories. Cloud companies use a policy of incremental data migration. They usually use a lift and shift method to make this possible. This helps overcomes the challenge of fragmented IT systems. You could also eliminate the silos of healthcare data hindering health care interoperability.
Cloud solutions help address data duplication issues. They can also resolve the incompatibility between disjoint systems. All this, and more while moving towards a connected health model.
What is the infrastructure required to migrate to the cloud?
An infrastructure that supports seamless health information exchange! This is the defining factor for building cloud solutions. Digital data is currently stored in individual care delivery systems. These discrete islands of information obstruct information sharing in an episode of care. Most of the connectivity is established via point to point interfacing. This can get unmanageable at times.
Cloud technology for healthcare calls for the need to build robust health information exchanges – HIE. Patient ID manager, document registry, and image repository are key components. They form the critical components of an HIE. Each of these has a specific function for providers and healthcare stakeholders.
They work in tandem to manage the sharing of structured and unstructured documents. The patient demographics query allows querying a patient record for retrieving patient-specific information. This simplifies data retrieval by archiving images, results, and related details. This is then delivering via a universal data repository.
Data can be published by a primary care physician into the HIE. This can be then queried by other organizations such as a specialty practice. Cloud-hosted universal data repositories are the backbone of cloud-hosted healthcare infrastructure. They help maintain an audit trail with role-based access controls.
What is the throughput, and how soon we would see results?
Cloud solutions enable rapid data transfer from one location to another in near-real-time. Cloud provides today is HIPAA compliant cloud solutions out of the box. This resonates well with customers as you don’t have to build tools from the ground up, and you can get to market soon.
There is a challenge for big healthcare players to be on the cloud. Not all the solutions they develop are cloud-native. By building cloud-native solutions, you could focus on rolling out product features. You need not rely on significant infrastructure and a sizable dev-ops team.
You also have options for integrated health solutions. You could build cloud-native architectures that are not tied to a specific cloud. The main focus should be to use open source cloud technology so that you are not locked into one cloud vendor.
Consider a use case for a mental health billing solution. Only 10% of the submitted claims used to get approved. Cloud-based billing solutions help to gather resources to enhance go-to-market strength. This is achieved via integrated healthcare management. Integrated solutions streamline the system architecture and optimize workflows.
Automated claim scrubbers help check accuracy against hundreds of billing and coding requirements. This eliminates the need for many medical billers, coders, and reviewers. This provisions a more organized and systematic approach at every step.
What is the budget for migrating to the cloud?
In a cloud setting, you more or less pay for a service niche on a need basis. Cost is the critical factor that enterprises consider while migrating to the cloud. But cloud solutions are built towards agility. This encompasses the delivery of information and go-to-market capability.
While fixing a budget, it is hard to get a handle on the price transparency. There are a plethora of AI Machine enabled cloud solutions too. Cloud computing healthcare providers provide this as a standard package. This leads to a sticker shock situation. This is where cost optimization tools are going to come for the rescue for cost containment.
The Right Scale conducted a survey on cloud investment. It showed that out of 10 companies only 6 have an intersection with price and efficiency in 2019. Most cloud service providers offer you a lot of discounts on availing of their services. These hold good for cloud-based software solutions too. Keeping track of these discounts does not work for all users. Over half of the customers weren’t taking advantage of these discounts.
Certain cloud instances keep running even if you don’t need them. This jacks up the cost as they are not running instances that expire. Once this instance is over, we should be able to shut the whole thing down. Everything boils down to the automation of policies and leveraging cost optimization software.
What are the interoperability issues?
The major healthcare interoperability issues that govern a healthcare cloud ecosystem are twofold. These include technical and regulatory interoperability issues. The regulatory complications, in most cases, outweigh the technical challenges of interoperability.
This makes it necessary for us to understand the HIPPA guidelines. This is an important factor for clinical data analysis and data exchange. The HIPAA act emphasizes protecting the privacy and security of personal health information.
HIPAA stresses improving cloud security in healthcare. This ensures the highest degree of patient information confidentiality. This requires security and confidentiality measures while storing and transmitting PHI data. These include names, DOB, social security numbers, and email addresses.
Cloud solutions establish various levels of monitored access controls and information exchange protocols. This is a mandate while sharing PHI. HIPAA also emphasizes on an acceptable use policy. It employs regulatory action on employees that violate HIPAA laws. Deploying integrated healthcare solutions encapsulates contingency planning to respond to emergencies. These may vary from incidents like fire, vandalism, and other natural disasters. Cloud solutions make it easier to perform necessary due diligence. This ensures compliance between the practice and all business associates. Healthcare vertical cloud solutions develop a culture of compliance and data security.
How can an enterprise prepare for a cloud health Strategy?
There are a host of options for migrating to medical cloud computing solutions. You could consider a growing number of cloud offerings from AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure.
These are viable options for migrating and deploying medical cloud computing solutions.
None of these services acting alone can handle all the healthcare needs. A good practice would begin with a diagnostic assessment of the organization. This helps you come to an understanding of your enterprises’ unique needs. This would provide a basis on how to best use comprehensive components of the cloud. This includes all the available resources of a public cloud and private cloud.
While choosing options for cloud deployments, you have three options.
- A public cloud – This helps the tenants offload the management of the infrastructure to the provider.
- A private cloud – provisioned for the exclusive use of a single organization.
- Hybrid cloud solutions for healthcare – help access and harness the combined capabilities of the private and public cloud.
You could leverage SaaS, PaaS, IaaS based services while deploying these cloud solutions.
Public cloud provides like AWS, Google, and Azure have gained a lot of traction over the past decade.
Cloud technology for healthcare is now shifting towards the evolution of multi-cloud deployments. Cloud providers have worked in silos in the past, and each of them was catering to only niche use cases. Gartner survey shows 81% of enterprise customers are working with two or more vendors. It is only then they able to fulfill their business needs.
There is a shrinking gap between the big cloud players. Outages and natural disasters are posing a severe risk to cloud users. The future would see high demand for DRaaS – Disaster Recovery as a Service solution.
Sometimes issues do arise for large healthcare players. For them cloud computing applications in healthcare solutions don’t seem powerful enough. They would find it hard to meet real-time data analysis and processing needs. We would see them drifting to edge computing and distributed computing solutions.
The future of healthcare will be governed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. You would also see more cloud security compliance in healthcare tools. Actionable insights into security events will help avert cloud disasters. This, in essence, closes the entire loop of who, what, and why of healthcare cloud strategy.
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Written by Riken Shah linkedin
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.