Cloud Computing in Healthcare

April 8th, 2014

A recent study by the firm MarketsandMarkets indicates:

  • Cloud computing market in healthcare comprises of nearly 4% of the industry
  • The industry is expected to grow to nearly $5.4 billion by 2017

The cloud migration process for healthcare organizations is very challenging since it involves moving tons of data in the form of Patient records, PACS images, Operational and administrative data

Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry and security is paramount for any organization. Hence, cloud service providers in the healthcare industry must implement strict security norms designed to comply with federal regulations including SEC, SOX and HIPAA. Healthcare organizations all over the world always carry out the required due diligence to make sure that their service vendors have required knowledge and expertise in getting their products certified and help them to be eligible for federal incentives.

Benefits of Cloud Computing for Healthcare Organizations

Since the healthcare IT decision makers are skeptical about the security of their sensitive patient data, there has been an increased interest among the CXOs, to explore cloud computing and its associated business benefits and chalk out a phased plan for cloud adoption.

  • Cloud computing quickly ramps up revenue initiatives
  • Positively impacts business baseline & costs
  • Allows business leaders to shed their technology worries so that they can focus on their business

Security:

Moving the online patient records (EMR/EHR) is the top priority for most healthcare providers. The cloud service provider should ensure that the data is encrypted and securely backed up, provide an easy recovery mechanism, and enforce a privileged role based data access.

Scalability:

With cloud computing, providers can provision storage on a need basis as their patient data grows. As a standard practice, healthcare providers must keep records for at least six years. Hence, providers of cloud server or storage solutions should be able to adapt to EMR/EHR load to serve the healthcare organizations.

Mobility provides the right diagnosis at the point of care at the right time:

To remain competitive and nimble, healthcare organizations must deliver:

  • Quality care
  • Control mounting costs
  • Improve patient safety and care
  • Increase efficiency and productivity of physician’s operational/admin staff

Healthcare providers are fast employing Enterprise Mobility (EM) solutions to connect the most vital parts of their organizations (People, Systems and Information). With cloud computing solutions, patient information is readily available anytime, anywhere and doctors can easily pull up medical records remotely on their handheld devices (iPhone/iPad) for quick action. This improves the physician’s ability to provide high-level quality care to patients.

Cost Reduction:

By adopting cloud-computing solutions, patients, physician’s practices and medical organizations experience significant cost savings.

Few of the cost benefits are illustrated below:

    • The patient need not endure expenses for the same test twice when they go to different doctors or specialists or if the test results are lost
    • Physicians’ medical offices can procure required on-site hardware infrastructure and maintenance on a need basis to store EMR/EHR
    • The cost of new software and updates to existing software programs used by the physicians and onsite support personnel is reduced significantly
    • Physicians are able to submit prescriptions and refills electronically to pharmacies
    • Cloud computing also increases the accuracy of reimbursement coding

According to a report by Healthcare Financial Management, the savings benefits of EMRs/EHRs can amount to upwards of $37 million over a five-year period, depending on the scope and size of a healthcare organization.


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