By Richard Lommers
Although fairly new technology, cloud computing has already impacted and changed the way most industries share and manage data. And healthcare is no exception—the global cloud computing market in this field is expected to reach $64.7 billion by 2025. In other words, hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the world are rapidly embracing this innovation.
But what exactly does that mean for healthcare? How will the use of cloud computing affect and change it? These questions deserve a more thorough answer, so read on to find out.
Even if you’re not an IT expert, you’ve surely heard of the term “the cloud” before. It typically refers to the internet, so cloud computing clearly has something to do with it too. Well, to put it simply, it allows you to store and manage data, use software, and access files without installing any programs on your own hardware. All these resources exist on cloud servers, and you just need to pay a fee to use them. It’s as simple as that!
Although there is a fee, cloud computing tends to be far cheaper than buying or upgrading your own equipment for more storage. That’s exactly why it’s become so popular—it significantly reduces various companies’ and organizations’ operational costs. On top of that, the data is easy to access from any device, which promotes smooth cooperation and efficiency.
You may ask yourself: What exactly does healthcare have to do with cloud computing? Its main concern should be the patients’ well-being, which certainly can’t be achieved through the cloud. However, the truth is that healthcare providers deal with vast amounts of data, most of which relates to their patients’ conditions, medical histories, and treatments. And keeping track of it all can be a challenging task.
So, that’s where the cloud steps in. Medical records require lots of storage space, whether they are written or digital. And cloud computing, as we know, offers just that. But aside from that, it comes with a few more benefits.
Storing medical data in your own facilities might be your first choice, but you need to take the costs into account, too. The equipment for maintaining such a database is sure to be rather expensive and will require regular upgrading. On top of that, you’d need a specific space for it, as well as cooling systems and staff to oversee it.
But if you decide to store your data on the cloud, you don’t need any of that. For a certain fee, you’ll get your own server and pay only for the computing capacity you use. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about cooling, space, or anything else — your provider will take care of all that. Just make sure to find someone with the best cloud computing certifications, and you’re all set.
In other words, your expenses will be significantly lower. Thanks to that, you can then redirect that money to other areas and improve the overall patient care and treatment in your facility.
When you store large amounts of sensitive patient data, security has to be one of your primary concerns. After all, healthcare databases are real goldmines for hackers, as they often contain social security numbers and other private information. And if that data becomes compromised, your healthcare facility is sure to lose the trust of its patients.
So, in order to protect your patients’ details, you need to pay special attention to cyber security. That usually means employing a team of IT experts to help with firewalls and other protection. But, of course, an IT team doesn’t come for free, nor does the equipment they might need to perform their jobs.
Paying for a cloud computing license is still cheaper and ensures your confidential data is always secure. There is no need to hire anyone or buy any equipment—security is part of the cloud computing package. That once again means you can use that money you save elsewhere and work on improving your healthcare services. On top of that, you’ll never have to worry about losing your patients’ trust again!
Improved Collaboration During Treatment
Once your patients’ medical data is in the cloud, all authorized personnel will have access to it. That makes collaboration between various medical teams and professionals far quicker and smoother. Even if they don’t work in the same hospital or city, two healthcare providers can still use the data to figure out the best treatment course. Cloud computing speeds up communication and leads to better and faster solutions.
And sometimes, fast solutions are absolutely necessary. Urgent patients can’t afford to wait for doctors to send documents to each other or discuss their cases in depth. Instead, it’s better if all medical professionals involved can access medical records at all times on whichever device is convenient. Then they can fully focus on patient care.
Cloud computing is here, and it’s set on improving efficiency and collaboration. Many industries across the globe are already reaping benefits from this new technology, and healthcare is slowly joining the trend. Thanks to cloud computing, medical professionals can shift their focus entirely to their patients and drastically improve the treatment.
As time goes by and cloud computing technologies develop further, we expect healthcare to change and improve. With the greater emphasis on patient comfort and care, medical professionals are sure to save more lives and cure more diseases. And that future might not even be that distant—in fact, it’s right around the corner.
Richard Lommers works in special online projects at CompTia. Questions and comments can be directed to 24×7 Magazine chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].