The term “cloud computing” encompasses the technology and capabilities that allow computing services to be delivered on-demand to users via an internet connection. Cloud computing has found popularity and utility across industries, but today we’ll focus on the benefits of computing in healthcare, as well as its applications.
Cloud Application in Healthcare
Though cloud computing is not novel to healthcare organizations, its use cases are rapidly expanding in the field. What began as a safe storage solution for EMR data has proven itself to be a valuable tool in advancing clinical care, streamlining back-office processes, and keeping pace with compliance requirements.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the major applications of cloud computing in the healthcare arena.
- Virtual health: Allows patients to access their health-related documents remotely, share real-time data via wearable devices, and communicate more easily with clinicians.
- Clinical decision-making: Establishes a space where meaningful insights can be extracted from large data sets of patient information and applied to support personalized medicine.
- Supply chain: Empowers leaders to make more cost-conscious, sustainable choices with system-wide resource inventories, automated medicine delivery, and other simplifying capabilities.
- Disaster recovery: Ensures careful, consistent, HIPAA-compliant data backups, relieving concerns about data loss during natural disasters, technical issues, or breaches.
Technological innovations and advancements—such as artificial intelligence and machine learning—have fundamentally shifted the possibilities for cloud computing, and we may continue to discover new ways that it can improve operations, processes, and outcomes within the healthcare industry.
Successful leaders are avoiding extremes (total opposition to advancements on one end, hasty investment in every new thing on the other), and instead remaining open, realistic, and thoughtful about these shifts.
The Top 10 Advantages of Cloud Computing in Healthcare
Cloud-enabled technologies have been able to make such substantial inroads because they deliver impressively on important promises to increase security and efficiency. Further, the benefits of cloud computing are not siloed; each positive aspect has a powerful impact across multiple departments and on various goals. These are the top 10 benefits:
- Advanced security: Remote data centers—a staple element of cloud computing—keep patient information safe from bad actors and disasters, while also enabling smoother data access for those who truly need it—serving as one of the leading benefits of cloud computing for healthcare.
Cloud-enabled, HIPAA-compliant communication and information-sharing methods also relieve security concerns that can crop up during clinician collaboration or patient transfer.
- Financial stability: To start, cloud services play a big role in cost savings, as they don’t require the purchase and upkeep of expensive systems, equipment, hardware, and software.
- Beyond that clear win, cloud services also improve organizations’ financial outlooks by eliminating waste from the supply chain, helping clinicians make wiser patient decisions, and empowering patients to take the reins of their own wellness journeys.
- Reduced IT burden: Your internal IT team has enough to do without being constantly concerned about data safety, downtime, and access issues. When you partner with a strong cloud provider, those worries can go out the window and your IT team can rest easy knowing experts are on duty 24/7.
- Enhanced collaboration: With its immense storage capabilities, access control safeguards, and “interoper-abilities,”, the cloud makes collaborating safer and easier than ever. It enables better communication and teamwork among providers, between providers and patients, and between organizations—ultimately paving the way for superior patient care, experiences, and outcomes.
- Expanded visibility: Cloud infrastructures are flexible. They can accommodate multiple large data sets and, with the right analytics incorporated, can use them together to extract and store extensive insights.
When all the tools and information you need are in one safe, easy-to-access space, you gain better visibility into patient populations, care trends, major service gaps, and more.
- Unlocked efficiencies: The efficiencies afforded by the cloud are almost endless.
It safely houses all your data and seamlessly enables advanced technologies—allowing you to automate pre-registration and supply chain processes, facilitate more productive patient interactions, get back to work faster after disaster, design more effective community outreach programs, and spend less time searching for answers within patient data sets.
- Provider satisfaction: Gone are the days of rummaging through various file cabinets or staying long hours to finish paperwork. In the cloud, clinicians can find answers and finish tasks in just a few clicks, from anywhere and at any time. With more flexibility and less wasted time, providers will be less vulnerable to burnout.
- Patient engagement: Never have there been more touchpoints for patients with their healthcare. Though the healthcare system still requires much improvement, we have started to see meaningful growth in accessibility and affordability following the adoption of cloud computing and associated technologies.
- This growth has allowed patients and caregivers to become more involved and engaged in the care journey—and feel more supported by the resources available to them throughout it.
- Preparation for future research: The choices we make about data capture and data storage now will inescapably set the stage for the future of medical research.
- Implementing cloud computing ensures that data is collected, organized, and kept safe—and equips researchers with the framework and power they need to run extensive analyses.
- Scalability: The past several years have hammered home the unpredictability of healthcare. Whether you need to flex up or pare down, cloud services allow you to do so seamlessly. With flexible cloud storage and straightforward user management, you can adapt to whatever comes your way.
With something for everyone, cloud-based services are essential to the sustainability and success of healthcare organizations. Explaining these key benefits of cloud computing can help get leaders and teams on board with change.
Why More Organizations Are Tapping into the Benefits of Cloud Technology in Healthcare
|The Why||The Details|
|Provider Satisfaction||Cloud services provide clinicians with easy access to patient data and reduce administrative tasks, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced burnout.|
|Enhanced Patient Engagement||Cloud computing has increased the accessibility and affordability of healthcare services, enabling patients to be more involved in their care journey.|
|Future-Proofing||By adopting cloud computing, healthcare organizations are preparing for the future of medical research, ensuring data is collected, organized, and kept safe for extensive analyses.|
|Scalability||Cloud services offer the flexibility to scale up or down as needed, allowing healthcare organizations to adapt to changes and unpredictability seamlessly.|
How to Tap into Cloud Computing for Healthcare
Realizing cloud computing benefits at your organization shouldn’t be a struggle. We’ve compiled a few best practices and tips from our decades of experience to help you on your way.
- Align key stakeholders: Make sure you engage financial, clinical, operational, and leadership perspectives in your objective-setting process. Starting from common ground and shared understanding will help simplify and smooth the road ahead.
- Attach cloud initiatives to business outcomes: Discuss and decide on what you’re expecting to get out of cloud computing. Who will be affected? What value will it drive? How do we know if it is working? Along with big goals, ensure you agree on benchmarks for success along the way.
- Map out the road to achieve necessary competencies: Even though your cloud provider will take care of many specialized IT needs, your staff and clinicians will likely require education to understand this new framework and gain the skills necessary to make the most of cloud computing.
- Treat it like a marathon: Thinking of cloud computing as a one-off project can lead to siloed efforts, disconnected processes, duplicative work, and wasted time. Rather than looking at the implementation of cloud services as a sprint to the finish, encourage a slow and steady approach.
- Put in time to find the right partner: The wrong cloud service partner can swiftly and irreparably derail even your best-laid plans. Look for a vendor who is deeply experienced in healthcare IT, aligned with your mission, committed to your success, and fully transparent about pricing, expectations, and capabilities.
The Leading Benefit of Cloud Computing in Healthcare? Working With a Leading Healthcare IT Partner
If you’re in search of that right partner, True North is throwing our hat in the ring. We are proud of our purpose-built, cross-country data centers, comprehensive compliance protocols, and expertise across our hosted cloud services, including public, private, and hybrid solutions.
With True North, you’re not just getting a cloud provider. You’re building a trust-based partnership with a best-in-class organization dedicated to implementing the right solutions for your unique IT goals and challenge landscape.
Contact us today and tell us about your healthcare organization.