The healthcare industry has been steadily expanding, owing to a rising aging population and the growing trend of wellness centers. With a pandemic in the mix, however, the industry has been left burdened and unprepared. The silver lining here is that people have embraced telehealth services. With the onset of Covid 19, the number of users accessing e-healthcare services has catapulted. Doctors can now provide remote care to patients from the safety of their homes, making life easier for everybody involved.
Cloud has played a heroic role in these trying times. Even those that swear by traditional systems established regulations, processes, and operational methods, have had to make the mental, cultural, and ultimately, physical switch to the Cloud. Admittedly for them, the pros outweigh the cons.
Saving time, reducing costs, increasing efficiency
When Hunterdon Healthcare, a healthcare center in New Jersey, migrated to the Cloud, they saved $1.3 million in IT costs. With a Cloud-based system, tasks are simplified, making the turnaround quick and seamless. Processes are streamlined, thereby eliminating silos and enhancing resource utilization. Cloud-based technology brings with it a sense of ease and convenience, cutting down administrative and hardware costs in the process. In hospitals that use legacy systems, a lot of time and effort is lost on manual data collection and transfer, notwithstanding the additional costs invoked by human error. Cloud brings operational efficiency into play – giving patients better care and healthcare organizations a better bottom line. While there is an initial cost incurred to transform legacy systems into Cloud-based ones, in the long run, the cost of running the latter is much lower. Right now, as physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers are (at best) experiencing exhaustion, Cloud-based systems are proving to be a necessary, life-saving investment.
Interoperability and collaboration
Interoperability between hospitals, diagnostic centers, clinics, dispensaries, pharmacies, etc., is perhaps the biggest advantage of Cloud. Different information technology systems can communicate with each other, making it easy to compile a complete and comprehensive patient history record – this helps physicians make informed decisions. Further, with Cloud, one can access patient data and other applications remotely – this drastically scales the reach of medicine, especially to rural areas. Research into Covid 19 has shown that individuals with pre-existing conditions and compromised immunity are more susceptible to the virus. When testing for Covid 19, access to one’s complete medical records helps doctors prioritize cases and provide care accordingly.
Real-time remote care
Transcending time, distance and other variables, cloud-enabled IT relays real-time information, which cuts down the time, cost and effort involved in physically going to a healthcare facility, waiting for an appointment, etc. Real-time e-diagnosis has been widely helpful amidst the pandemic, ensuring that people do not unnecessarily put themselves at risk by visiting hospitals for non-Covid-related medical issues. Instead, complying with social distancing norms, telehealth services help doctors communicate directly with patients, and make a diagnosis (and if necessary, a treatment plan) without putting either party at risk. Research by McKinsey and Company shows that out of a number of people that had canceled medical appointments during the lockdown, 44% accessed telehealth options. They also found that online searches for telemedicine increased more than ninefold. Since Cloud-based healthcare facilities keep track of the numerous technological advances in medicine, it helps improve patient outcomes, giving them an advantage over facilities that do not use Cloud services.
Data security on cloud
The biggest apprehension with cloud-based systems is data security. The confidentiality and security of one’s medical data is an obvious concern, but Cloud systems can reduce risks by complying with regulations and policies like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
Other worries include internet connectivity issues, unskilled personnel, and worries over a lack of the ‘human’ element. The implementation of training programs will help familiarize staff with the workings of Cloud systems. As for the human element or the lack thereof, it is important to note that like with everything else in the service industry, healthcare too, has had to be tailored to suit consumer expectations in terms of speed, comfort, etc. If anything, therefore, Cloud-based systems provide patients with a value-based service.
Although it took a pandemic to catalyze the industry’s adoption of cloud services, there is no denying that it is the future of healthcare. The benefits and undiscovered potential of Cloud could redefine diagnoses, treatments, and more. Trigent helps healthcare organizations that are at any Cloud maturity stage – whether it is on an advisory level, migrating from a legacy system to the Cloud, developing a particular application, adapting portfolios to match the evolved Cloud architecture or any other Cloud service.
- Siwicki, B. (2019). Hunterdon Healthcare migrates to Google Cloud/G Suite and saves $1.3 million.
- Fabius, V., Kohli, S., Timelin, B., & Veranen, S. (2020). Meet the next-normal consumer.