Data is migrating to the cloud at lightning-fast speeds. While it’s no surprise that most early adopters were business- and tech-based companies—even government organizations—the next big wave is coming in the form of healthcare agencies. This industry will be be a driving force behind taking data center traffic from 65 percent cloud-based to nearly 85 percent by 2019.
Housing mountains of analog records just waiting to be digitized, healthcare organizations are poised to make a move that will benefit providers, patients, and insurance organizations alike. And it’s already begun. Over 50 percent of healthcare executives surveyed have reported moving critical data and sensitive information to the cloud or a software-defined data center (or SDDC, where networking, storage, security, and CPU are virtualized and offered as a service). In addition, an overwhelming 75+ percent state they plan to move more data within the next year.
So what’s inspiring the move? The reasons are many.
Providers can easily connect with one another despite geographic limitations in order to work as a team. This gives small and rural practices a greater network of support, and lets physicians of all sizes consult with specialists that may be better suited to address specific medical concerns.
Patients want to receive personalized care, and physicians want to provide it. But personalizing the patient/physician experience becomes difficult without the hassle of filling out new forms every time a patient sees a new doctor or specialist, or is traveling. With easy access to patient medical records and history via the cloud, physicians can quickly review a patient’s background to provide rewarding experience.
Digitization gives patients and physicians easy access to medical records online in order to avoid duplicative paperwork; they can usually also share information with other providers, specialists, insurance companies, and pharmacies. In fact, digitization has become so prevalent that according to the University of South Florida, all healthcare providers are required to adopt some form of electronic medical recording (EMR) in order receive federal subsidies and avoid potential fines.
Healthcare providers are required by law to maintain patient records a full ten years after their last visit (and childrens’ records until they reach the age of 19). As their practice or network grows, so does their amount of patient data; and while hardware infrastructure can hamper growth, cloud-based infrastructure can grow with them.
Physicians and patients can access their records from anywhere, on any compatible device, 24/7. This mobility also expedites adoption of the rapidly expanding field of Telemedicine—the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through video conferencing and other means of communication.
Loss of data through cyber attacks, human error, system failure, or natural disaster can be devastating for patients and providers. With cloud computing and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), data recovery time can be at or near zero, and continuous backups mean providers can revert back to the last “clean” snapshot of patient data.
A connected cloud gives providers the ability to compare data, make predictions, and prepare for outbreaks (consider the advantages of data sharing and preparation around flu season). Advanced research benefits can also help in the treatment of disease, the development of new pharmaceuticals, and more.
The Security Barrier Is Crumbling
So with all these obvious wins, how come not every healthcare organization has made the move to the cloud? For some, it’s just the matter of finishing the time-consuming task of digitizing mass amounts of files, many of which require different file types (i.e., an x-ray scan versus a drug prescription). But for most, compliance and security remain a roadblock. However, this is all changing.
Today, the advent of the virtual private cloud is offering healthcare providers 100% dedicated security. In addition, other cloud computing options and as-a-service providers are becoming more attuned to the needs of healthcare organizations; they’re meeting HIPAA compliance standards, which require all healthcare organizations have a disaster response (DR) plan and regular risk assessments.
There are a number of questions all healthcare organizations need to ask themselves before making a move to the cloud; but in the end, adoption will not be an option, but a necessity in order to remain competitive in our digital world. Ready to make the move—or learn more about cloud computing options for your health care organization? Speak with an IT expert at DSM, Florida’s preferred cloud provider, today.