Benefits and Challenges of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Industry

Slowly but surely, the healthcare industry has been embracing digital transformation, steadily adopting more and more tech innovations for the sake of better medical services and more reliable outcomes. A crucial factor of this transformation involves the mass migration to cloud services and the utilization of cloud computing. While there are many concerns regarding implementation, the security of sensitive data, and legal compliance, the benefits of cloud computing significantly outweigh the risks. In fact, according to statistics from Black Book Market Research, the healthcare cloud adoption rate currently sits at a staggering 74%. 

Launching its digital transformation into the stratosphere, 2020 was a defining year for the healthcare industry. Many factors have contributed to the acceleration of cloud migration, including COVID-19, the rising cost of healthcare services, and other economical factors. In fact, cloud computing (in the healthcare market) is expected to grow by $55 billion by 2025.  Presently, having a robust and integrated cloud infrastructure is no longer optional for healthcare organizations — it’s mandatory. As more and more patient data is accumulated, medical facilities need a network that easily collects, shares, and distributes this information safely and effectively.

Why are healthcare companies moving to the cloud? 

When it comes to managing data, the healthcare industry is one of the more complex cases. Year after year, it serves more people and integrates with more software services; all of which lead to a complicated and intricate network of systems. Considering the fact that medical information and personal health records are among the most sensitive and valuable types of data, properly managing and protecting them is a challenge. 

Cloud systems enable much-needed interoperability between disparate data sources and software systems. Cloud infrastructure provides integration and access which makes collecting and sharing data a quick and seamless experience for medical professionals. Now, clinicians can easily get the information they need from any device without sacrificing valuable time and effort. Most importantly, cloud computing provides data centralization. 

The global pandemic acted as a catalyst, pushing the healthcare industry to shift toward the cloud. Firstly, the majority of medical services have gone online which has led to a need for proper digital data workflows. In addition, cloud infrastructure facilitates the process of enabling telehealth, telemedicine, integrations with EHRs, EMRs, and medical billing systems. 

Benefits of cloud computing in healthcare 

The applications for cloud computing in the healthcare industry are countless. Cloud computing provides a more connected, engaged, accessible, and collaborative space for both patients and clinicians. In addition, it also provides limitless benefits in terms of health and treatment. In the long run, shifting to a cloud environment guarantees better patient services, lower costs, and more satisfaction among medical staff. 

Data centralization & access

Thanks to its integration capabilities, with cloud computing, patient records and related data remain centralized — all in one place. This has significantly simplified the process of diagnosing and prescribing treatments and has led to a positive impact on patient health. Furthermore, having access to various types of data has reduced costs relating to time and labor as clinicians now have the time to focus on treatment rather than administrative tasks. 

Integration

Cloud computing in healthcare not only unifies information but also enables integration with multiple systems. This reduces the need for a healthcare company to maintain various on-premises systems and establish necessary safety protocols. In the cloud environment, users are able to streamline processes in real-time and gather insights from analytics. 

Lower costs

It’s no secret that in-house and on-premises data systems consume plenty of resources. Cloud systems provide healthcare companies with additional flexibility regarding costs as an organization only has to pay for the services it uses. There are no additional in-house IT resources needed to maintain a cloud environment and it’s easy to switch platforms if necessary. Moving to the cloud can reduce a company’s IT costs by 9% and savings can reach up to $37 million over a period of 5 years. Ultimately, cloud computing results in increased savings as it facilitates the administrative workforce, eliminates unnecessary manual labor, and allows doctors to provide better patient care. 

Better medical outcomes

Ideally, the more data from various sources we have access to, the more insight into the required treatment we have. With tools like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and more, cloud infrastructure itself provides us with multi-angled and tech-enabled diagnostics. Clinicians can now get a much clearer picture of disease and look into historical data to assess a patient’s medical background accurately. 

Scalability

As it’s completely scalable, cloud infrastructure enables healthcare companies to grow and evolve. Whenever a new software system is added or the volume of users grows, cloud computing simply adjusts the data environment and adapts. 

Challenges of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Sector 

Essentially, moving the complex ecosystem of a healthcare provider to the cloud infrastructure is not a thing that happens overnight. Implementation requires a careful approach and as with any technology adoption, it comes with no shortage of challenges. 

Security & compliance issues

Data security and regulatory compliance have been a primary concern that has traditionally held the healthcare industry back from proactively moving to the cloud environment. As medical data is extremely sensitive and the consequences of a data breach can be devastating, this concern is completely understandable. 

According to a Ponemon Institute and IBM Security survey, on average, a single data breach costs healthcare providers up to $6.45 million. The data in the cloud is shared between multiple parties; if handled improperly, it involves certain security risks. With the right development partner and strict security procedures in place, healthcare organizations can avoid security concerns. 

Best practices to ensure cloud security:

  • Regular security audits
  • AI and ML for security 
  • Risk management strategy
  • Regular employee training
  • Data encryption
  • Strict user access policies
  • Complex authentification and authorization
  • Software updates

Read more about healthcare software security in our recent blog

Choosing a trusted software provider greatly increases confidence in data protection. It is also important to regularly train medical staff and create a security strategy to avoid potential errors. At the end of the day, all of these challenges can be successfully eliminated with the help of a reputable software provider and staff diligence. Remember, a cloud service provider should be compliant with key industry regulations like HIPAA, HITECH, GDPR, etc. 

Downtime

Another challenge for the healthcare industry regarding the implementation of a cloud system relates to the amount of downtime experienced while migrating and transporting data due to Internet connection disruptions. It is important to remember that the slight probability of such an issue exists regarding all types of cloud solutions both in and outside of the healthcare industry. Still, there are some practices that healthcare companies can apply to minimize the chances of downtime. 

How to avoid downtime?

  • Use a hybrid or multi-cloud environment model to avoid relying on a single cloud provider. This way, your data infrastructure will remain safe, saved on other cloud services should one of the systems go down.
  • Be sure to thoroughly check the network connection capabilities and use network segmentation. Use a scalable network configuration to limit the probability of connection issues.

Healthcare Software Development with Glorium

The healthcare industry is evolving and expanding faster than ever; as such, cloud solutions are imperative. Considering how quickly healthcare companies are switching to the cloud, the digitalization of data infrastructure has become a promising and rapidly growing niche. As the latest trends predict, software providers that build cloud solutions focusing on security, integration, and personalization will have a competitive advantage in the health tech market. 
Having a reliable software development partner by your side is the first step to building a successful solution. With more than 10 years of industry expertise, Glorium assists startups, helping them get to market quickly and stay ahead of the competition with superior service and tailored solutions. By nurturing your ideas from concept to launch, our dedicated team helps bring your ideas to life. Learn more about our healthcare software and application development solutions today.

AboutAndrei Kasyanau
As CEO at Glorium Technologies, I help tech startups bolster their teams with agile product development services on demand. Our custom development can reduce time to market by up to 30% with 40% in savings compared to in-house teams. As a professional, I’ve experienced both corporate life with financial giants and entrepreneurial life out on my own, where I built my business from the ground up in an agile environment.