Cloud Computing in Healthcare: Current Applications and Future Potentials

Digital transformation has revolutionized healthcare with blockchain, AI, machine learning, IoT, and software as a medical device (SaMD). Cloud computing in healthcare, therefore, becomes a trend to ensure the proper function of these technology breakthroughs.

Cloud-based healthcare solutions are projected to generate $100 billion to $170 billion by 2030. 

Let’s explore the benefits of cloud computing in healthcare, its current applications, and the promising future it will bring to the sector.

What Is Cloud Computing in Healthcare?

The “cloud” in healthcare refers to the availability of data centers to users via the Internet, spreading across various locations from central servers. This approach presents a flexible solution for healthcare stakeholders to remotely access servers that can securely manage massive volumes of data without location barriers. 

what is cloud computing in healthcare

Cloud-based healthcare systems store crucial medical data in the cloud, including electronic health records, medical images, lab results, and patient information, allowing providers to effectively process an explosion of healthcare data.

Types of Cloud Computing

Two models categorize cloud computing in healthcare: distribution and deployment. These models offer distinct approaches to utilizing cloud technology, catering to the specific demands of users. 

Cloud Computing by Distribution

Cloud computing services offer healthcare organizations a powerful way to increase storage, manage data, and access applications. 

There are three different healthcare cloud distribution models: 

1. Software as a Service (SaaS): The service provider offers IT infrastructure while the client deploys operating systems and applications. This arrangement allows clients to concentrate on utilizing the software and services provided by the provider for streamlined operations and increased efficiency.

2. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The service provider offers a complete IT infrastructure and operating system. The client takes on the responsibility of deploying and managing their applications. This allows organizations to leverage the provider’s infrastructure, which includes servers, storage, and networking, without the need for physical hardware investments.

3. Platform as a Service (PaaS): A comprehensive solution that encompasses an IT infrastructure, an operating system, applications, and other components. By utilizing PaaS, organizations can optimize their development processes, reduce the complexities of infrastructure management, and concentrate on delivering resilient and scalable applications.

Cloud Computing by Deployment

The deployment model sorts out cloud computing based on the platform mode used for running applications, storing data, and accessing web-based services. 

1. Public Cloud: A public cloud provider offers its services to multiple clients. This model allows healthcare organizations and patients to effectively manage and optimize their operations by leveraging the resources and capabilities provided by the cloud provider. The public cloud best suits organizations seeking scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

2. Private Cloud: Private cloud computing offers services exclusively to a single client. This setup ensures a higher level of security and safeguards sensitive data by limiting access to only authorized users. 

3. Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid private and public cloud solution lets organizations use multiple cloud options to meet their requirements and optimize data management and storage. Hybrid cloud solutions can help healthcare institutions manage their data while ensuring compliance with industry regulations and enhancing operational efficiency.

4. Community Cloud: A shared community cloud service caters to a select group of organizations or employees. It provides a secure platform for healthcare entities to collaborate, exchange data, and streamline operations. This model lowers costs, ensures data privacy, and boosts customization capabilities. 

What Benefits Does Cloud Computing Bring to Healthcare?

Benefits-of-Cloud-in-software-development

Cost-Savings 

Cloud computing reduces costs. Research shows that an on-premise solution over two years costs approximately $2 million more than a cloud-based solution. Healthcare cloud computing services eliminate costly charges for equipment and systems. 

Subscription cloud computing for healthcare also only charges for resources used, minimizing the costs of in-house IT teams and storage. 

This cost of engineering calculator clearly illustrates this cost gap and guides the best options to optimize costs. 

Better Interoperability 

Interoperability in healthcare systems enables seamless data integration, facilitating efficient patient data distribution and valuable insights for improved healthcare delivery.

Cloud computing gives medical professionals access to a diverse range of patient data, share it with key stakeholders, and deliver timely protocols. By leveraging cloud computing, healthcare providers can improve collaboration, streamline communications, and enhance patient care across the entire healthcare ecosystem.

Enhanced Patient Experience 

By providing remote access to medical information, prescriptions, and test results, cloud computing in healthcare systems can help providers enhance patient engagement. This accessibility lets patients retrieve and manage their healthcare data anytime, anywhere, resulting in better involvement in their care. 

Additionally, cloud-based healthcare facilitates easy archival and retrieval of medical data, significantly reducing data redundancy, simplifying data recovery, and preventing patient overprescription and unnecessary testing.

Applications of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Here are some of the successful applications of cloud computing in healthcare. 

Applications-of-Cloud-Computing-in-Healthcare

E-health and Telemedicine

E-health lets patients receive appropriate clinical treatment from anywhere. Medical professionals from different locations can collaborate effectively through the cloud, providing live input on complex medical cases. 

Telemedicine leverages healthcare cloud computing as an information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, enhancing communication and interaction among doctors and patients.

These two applications reduce the need for unnecessary hospital visits, saving significant time and money.

Drug Discovery

IaaS cloud computing services streamline and simplify the complex drug discovery process. By harnessing the capabilities of cloud computing in healthcare, researchers and scientists can effectively analyze and evaluate extensive datasets, expediting the identification of potential drug candidates and driving progress in drug recovery.

Pfizer, a renowned biotechnology and pharmaceutical company, has been utilizing healthcare cloud computing since 2016 to enhance collaboration across various data components. Pfizer gained significant attention for its partnership with BioNTech in developing the COVID-19 vaccine. It has used cloud solutions to improve the efficiency of clinical trial testing and accelerate drug discovery. 

PHR, EHR, and EMR

Cloud computing has enhanced the sharing of personal health records (PHR), electronic health records (EHR), and electronic medical records (EMR). These serve as centralized data repositories that allow patients, managed-care organizations, and hospitals to efficiently manage and access vital medical information. Cloud computing helps customize access management implementation that ensures secure and tailored access to these records for all stakeholders.

Healthcare Information Systems

Healthcare information systems (HIS) collect, store, and exchange patient data. These systems also encompass hospital operational management systems that aid in patient inquiries, improve patient care, manage billing and finance, handle human resources, and support policy decisions. Cloud technology ensures compatibility across various platforms and integration with existing legacy systems.

For example, the Google Health healthcare cloud API lets healthcare organizations securely manage and integrate patient data from EHRs, imaging systems, and wearables. This facilitates a more complete understanding of a patient’s health history, enabling more personalized and effective care.

Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS)

Sophisticated clinical decision support systems (CDSS) use the expertise and practices of medical professionals to guide patient record analysis. Cloud computing in healthcare helps develop and deploy CDSS, significantly enhancing patient care quality.

Cloud-based systems facilitate real-time diagnoses, enabling patients to securely share their data with physicians and receive timely and accurate medical advice.

One popular diagnostic product, HoloLens 2 by Microsoft, can project holographic images for the wearer, including relevant information stored within the cloud. This gives healthcare providers access to patient data and collaborative resources during diagnoses, operations, and treatment.

A Promising Future for Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing in healthcare allows providers to harness advanced big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Seventy-four percent of the healthcare industry has adopted cloud technology, and the systems are growing increasingly sophisticated and powerful. Cloud computing helps healthcare providers significantly improve patient outcomes and enhance operational efficiency. 

The integration of cloud computing in healthcare expands the customization and flexibility of EHR systems. Previously, tailored solutions necessitated extensive programming knowledge and IT expertise. With the advent of AI and its integration with cloud computing, the analysis of vast datasets can help develop pre-built, personalized care plans for the unique needs of each patient. This flexibility also improves the efficacy of healthcare workflows. 

This explains why cloud-based medical solutions have a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.8%

What Challenges May Hinder Cloud Computing in Healthcare?

Cloud computing in healthcare still faces numerous challenges, which smart healthcare institutions can prepare to overcome.

Challenges-of-Cloud-Computing-in-Healthcare

Security and Regulatory Compliance 

Healthcare providers prioritize the confidentiality and security of sensitive patient medical data. They have legal obligations under regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA to protect patient data and inform them of any breaches. Non-compliance comes with significant penalties. 

An unclear division of responsibilities between healthcare institutions and cloud providers can complicate compliance. This ambiguity risks data integrity and exposes potential breaches. Organizations must establish clear guidelines and protocols before giving their data to cloud providers. This includes security measures such as access controls, storage security, and authentication.

Adoption Challenges 

The shift from legacy to cloud-based systems requires updated and effective operational processes. Healthcare providers and their development partners must train all stakeholders so they understand the tangible advantages of cloud technology in their daily duties.

Lack of Experts 

The migration to cloud computing in healthcare requires a significant level of expertise and technological proficiency, which may not always be readily available within healthcare organizations. As a result, healthcare institutions need the assistance of technology experts who possess the necessary knowledge and skills to establish a robust cloud infrastructure, manage the transition process, and optimize the various advantages offered by cloud computing.

KMS Healthcare Has the Healthcare Cloud Expertise You Need

The guidance of certified experts can ensure a smooth transition to the cloud. KMS Healthcare has more than 14 years of accomplished experience in healthcare software development, making us your ideal partner for navigating the essential steps and achieving your software objectives. 

Contact KMS Healthcare

Our expert guidance can optimize your healthcare cloud migration and amplify your success. Schedule a consultation now and have our experts kick-off and guide your journey of healthcare cloud migration.

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