Most hospitals today rely on outdated software systems that had to be patched repeatedly through the years as medical technology and devices progressively evolved. These unsteady and unreliable foundations can lead to frequent inefficiencies and errors. When healthcare professionals need to maintain them or work around their problems, they lose time they could otherwise spend on patient care. Health providers need reliable, accessible and shareable data to respond to today’s healthcare needs, all made possible through cloud services.
The future of cloud services in healthcare
Cloud services can provide a unique opportunity for scaling and integrating information. With their help, doctors can access a patient’s complete medical history, see past tests results and prescriptions, and identify better vectors of treatment. In the future, these extensive data lakes will power sophisticated AI algorithms offering insights into previously unknown patterns and correlations.
Cloud services open possibilities for telehealth, supporting remote access and communication. People can receive healthcare from their homes, something particularly beneficial for those who have trouble travelling or are in remote locations. Doctors can share data and consult with specialists online, while patients have free access to their records, providing transparency and reducing calls and visits. As a result, clinics and hospitals receive a smaller influx of people, allowing for a greater level of care per patient and decreasing infection risk, a precaution more essential now than ever.
With the availability of high bandwidth networks, high-resolution cameras and increased computing power combined with services in the cloud, the need for doctors to be physically present in the same location as the patient, or each other, to view radiology or other imaging scans, will be eliminated. This confluence of technology, underpinned by cloud services will break down geographical access restrictions to healthcare and democratise access to data. The advantages do not just apply to physicians; patients, startups and the industry, in general, will benefit greatly from this technology.
Benefits of cloud services for healthcare
Today, cloud services provide a range of benefits, from improving patient care, offering access to new capabilities and driving efficiency, to ensuring high safety standards and eliminating waste as a beneficial side effect.
The main benefits of cloud services is the ability to improve data storage and offer a standardised platform. In the past, healthcare providers had to deal with extensive paper trails of medical histories. Over time the healthcare providers replaced paper with various PC programs and systems that handled records and offered basic analytics – all of which required in-house equipment to store and run. Cloud services can now store all of this data, provide redundancy and add further value by way of sophisticated analytics capabilities. In-house IT teams do not need to maintain physical servers, and the information can be made available remotely to anyone and from any device.
Scalability is another key advantage of cloud services. Healthcare providers can quickly increase or decrease storage and applications, as needed, without purchasing hardware or making costly software updates. For example, they can scale things up during peak flu season, when there is a higher patient flow, and reduce storage needs when the period is over. Scalability can aid with implementing ML (Machine Learning) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) solutions, which requires extremely large data sets. Thanks to the elastic scalability of cloud services, businesses can grow flexibly and dynamically, increasing capacity without investing in expensive physical infrastructure.
Cloud services promote fluid collaboration between doctors, departments, institutions, and third parties. Different teams can share data using the same service, boosting cooperation and ultimately improving patient outcomes. Thanks to cloud platforms professionals can manage and analyse text, images, voice notes and more data in real-time – shortening diagnosis times and treatment accuracy and reducing hospital admissions and costs.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning benefit greatly from cloud infrastructure. Most cloud services incorporate AI and ML capabilities, which are used by cloud service applications, assisting in the transition of these advanced technologies into mainstream healthcare. For example, AI assisted NLP (Natural Language Processing) applications’ ability to understand and classify clinical documentation and support clinical decision making. At the core of AI in healthcare is the possibility to better diagnose and treat disease, integrating human skills and workflows with automation.
Lastly, a significant driver of implementing cloud services is the likely reduction in costs. Most cloud services run under a subscription model, allowing healthcare providers to plan implementations that fit their operating budget. In general, having one cloud solution is more cost-effective than running several computers in various medical rooms – each of them requiring their hardware and versions of software, not to mention network maintenance. While some cloud services run on a consumption-based billing model, others keep costs consistent month to month. Healthcare providers can choose the model that fits their goals and budget better.
Security and compliance for cloud services in healthcare
Before adopting any cloud service, it is essential to consider any possible security and compliance risks. This includes the need for IT staff to make sure the system and the network are correctly updated, patched and maintained and that third parties process information safely.
A data breach can irrevocably devastate a company’s reputation and revenue. In the past, healthcare providers had to store all data on-site, making constant and growing investments in physical and digital security. Cloud services, however, are built to the highest of industry security standards and they are required to maintain these standards. In the past, healthcare providers had to go into the clinic to gain access to patient records. Cloud services manage the data so that it can be easily accessed and processed meaning healthcare providers can work with their patient’s health information securely from any corner of the world.
Besides basic infrastructure, cloud service providers offer security, data encryption, and constant monitoring. They provide advanced network security and work with solid, industry standard frameworks. They are also HIPAA and NIST compliant, offer automatic encryption, scalable redundancy, disaster recovery capabilities and flexible key management options such as SSO (Single Sign-On) identity management. Cloud solutions also have their own anti-malware and anti-intrusion tools to protect data and automated monitoring and reviewing logs and notifications.
When done well, cloud servers can offer more security than on-premise solutions. Not only can users access data remotely, but all information is also automatically backed up and recovered in case of a breach, avoiding any downtime. Without the challenge of managing legacy systems and on-site installations, you can deploy any software quickly and safely across an entire organisation, saving costs and improving efficiency.
Start leveraging the cloud with Fluffy Spider
Fluffy Spider Technologies specialises in delivering end to end connected digital health solutions, including, integrations to EMR systems, and custom software solutions to healthcare organisations. We help you concentrate on your core strengths by connecting medical devices to cloud services and other integrations as needed.
Visit our Custom Software Development page to learn more.