Healthcare Cloud Computing: Is virtual and remote healthcare the future?

June 23, 2022
Healthcare Cloud Computing: Is virtual and remote healthcare the future?


Gone are the days of patient files stacked up in separate rooms, with the dilemma surrounding the team when a specific patient file was required. Waiting for a doctor’s appointment is far from a tedious task, being a swipe or a call away. Teleconsultations, with online reports, instant updates and timely communication with the physician is today’s reality.

So, What was it that made this shift possible? How has healthcare cloud computing accelerated the new trends in medical environment?

A technology that has made the healthcare sector undeniably better for the physician and the patient alike is cloud technologies. Rather than an impulse adaptation of cloud, organizations within healthcare have waded carefully from on-premise solutions to cloud-native solutions. Noticeably, cloud computing in healthcare industry has taken the medical sector by a storm. The adoption of cloud technology in healthcare was done over time, as the biases on cloud-native were resolved, the infrastructure understood, and data security was enabled and assured. Slowly, the healthcare industry became knowledgabe of the numerous benefits of cloud computing in healthcare.

Eventually, cloud-native solutions were accepted, and have become the path forward for many healthcare organisations. The stats speak for themselves as the global healthcare cloud computing market has reached USD 29 billion in 2020 and is expected to register a CAGR of 13.7% up to 2027. While the pandemic contributed to its growth in usage, cloud computing provides opportunities to align with a futuristic, remote, quality healthcare.

Cloud-native: a framework that integrates right into healthcare

Embracing the need for a robust IT department in any organization is a crucial factor in today's environment. Healthcare as we know it, is a field of immense storage and processing workloads, with mandatory compliance and regulatory oversight. As more and more data is generated, it is necessary to extract actionable insights and real-time investigations to drive growth and progress within the organization.

Faster responses, continuous delivery, and collaborative infrastructure, holistically are the demands of the current scenario in the healthcare workspace. To meet these demands, the components of cloud-based solutions support deem fit. When the organization builds and operates applications using a cloud-native architecture, there is guaranteed smoother functioning of on-premises working of the healthcare sector.

The three service models offered by cloud-native solutions are

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • Platform as a service (PaaS)

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Cloud-native development incorporates the concept of DevOps continuous delivery, microservices and containers.

  • DevOps- forms the collaboration between software developers where building, testing, and releasing software according to requirements happens at a rapid pace

  • Continuous delivery is enabled by agile product development practices where changes in software are moved to production through automation. This helps deliver software more frequently.

  • Microservices help develop an application as a collection of small, independent services

  • Containers, for efficiency and speed, while deploying microservices

How can cloud-native aid the development of healthcare?

Business and customer-centric priorities are shifting, which translate into a shift or adaptation of better technology in healthcare. The ground reality is that shifting from a traditional form of workspace to a cloud-based one immediately is not possible, and has to take place in a phase-by-phase manner. However, the support and the embrace of cloud technology is depicted in statistics where 79% of healthcare stakeholders responded to a survey saying that they would make cloud a strategic priority in 2020.

Every healthcare organization is unique, but the demands and requirements, customer and competitive dynamics of the sector remain areas to be addressed. The aim of a healthcare organization is to adopt a technological strategy that succeeds these issues and aids their management.

The benefits of cloud computing thatcan help in the achievement of key business priorities to include,

1. Enable virtual healthcare

The future of healthcare involves patient-centered platforms that establish real-time communication to connect different healthcare platforms, communication via video and audio calls, information sent to the physician prior to the patient meetings, and so on. An example of how cloud-enabled technologies can aid this development is illustrated through the example of Nebraska Medicine. A healthcare network in Omaha with access to 1000 doctors and a total of 8000 medical professionals.

The hospital utilized Avaya One Cloud, a communication platform as a service provider, a 24/7 support line that provided information to patients without delays. This helped enable patient care and on-time treatment using cloud communication technologies.

2. Improve customer engagement

Today's generation is a combination of patients who prefer the traditional manner of patient-physician interaction and of patients who are tech-savvy and self-sufficient. To cater to both, native cloud-based customer engagement must be a serious consideration. Cloud technology in healthcare can personalize care delivery and improve interactions. Examples include proactive customer care via voice, SMS, email, automated customer chat, and distribution of proper resources among patients and physicians to enhance interactions and diagnosis.

3. Data security and storage

Investing in cloud-native is the solution to dealing with the influx and management of data such as patient records, monitoring systems, quality control checks, and so on. Having Native cloud can,

  • Help shift focus from hardware, software, and physical infrastructure maintenance burden

  • Prevent data breaches and security attacks

  • Ensure compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR

The network safety mechanisms are dependent on the native cloud provider but encompass various security measures that make cloud-native a reliable, safe choice for data-related needs.

4. Workforce interactions

The need of the hour, a digitally enabled workplace solution is provided by cloud-native solutions. This is probbaly one of the greatest benefits of cloud computing in healthcare. The capabilities of the native cloud are extended to the health organization staff as cloud-native architecture facilitates work among people, process, and tools that increases collaboration and help teams to speed and smooth the transfer of applications and deploy into production. Cloud-native can also help within the organization by

  • Automating workforce attendance tracking

  • Simplifying a hiring process for additions to the workforce

  • Aid with staff and promotion management, finance and resource management

  • Departmental changes, payment for resources can be managed better

Actionable insights and real-time data

By leveraging the cloud, we can analyze real-time data with data interoperability at scale. This is still done in a unique way, with cloud-native, and is less complex than multiple integrations. Using cloud technology in healthcare, one can keep track of all activities once a patient opens the door and exits, with real-time notifications for doctor checkups, pharmacy billing, and so on. This transparency gives physicians a better idea of how long a medical visit with a patient lasts, with real-time data. Modifications can then be further made on decreasing any wait time, reducing any lags, improving accessibility of resources, and so on.

6. Scale and budget flexibility

Cloud-native has built-in scalability that the healthcare sector can take advantage of. DevOps best practices provide developers and the IT department with a low-risk method of implementing and reverting changes, with quicker feedback post-deployment. Cloud-native technology also includes pay-per-use models.

Due to the Increased usage by the healthcare sector, it does not translate into additional costs, rather only in cases of adding servers or infrastructure, the IT department would have to spend on cloud-native solutions. The sector can scale accordingly, based on an increase or decrease in performance.

Challenges of using cloud-native technology in healthcare

The debate regarding the effectiveness of the features offered by cloud-native technologies has been an ongoing one for years. Despite that, we see organizations slowly making the shift towards a cloud-native infrastructure. Catering to the newer generation of patients is a major drive force, along with streamlined hospital operations, collaboration, and so on.

1. Security

Cloud-native is not an off-the-shelf software, but rather a personalized set of features acquired by a cloud provider. While there is a set amount of safety assured with cloud native's infrastructure, in the end it depends on the provider chosen. According to a survey, around 58% of healthcare companies claim that security is their major issue.

But, prevention lies exactly at the choice of provider made. Choosing a trusted cloud provider who is security and regulations compliant is essential. Current companies on top of the cloud-native infrastructure provider ladder are heavily investing in security. Besides the provider, here are some strategies to be adopted by the healthcare industry,

  • Develop a security strategy across devices and cloud components used

  • Perform a risk assessment of chances of security breaches and data exposure risks

  • Ensure that sensitive data is securely stored

  • Authorization and authentication procedures for accessing sensitive data

  • Avoid shadow IT

2. Lack of standardization

The idea of the doctor being updated as the patient walks in and is in the waiting room may sound quite useful to the physicians in terms of transparency and cloud-native makes it possible to exchange information across borders and devices in a matter of seconds. However, healthcare interoperability is an ongoing issue, where the safe transfer of medical data from one platform to another is the concern. Any hiccup in the process can lead to operational inefficiencies. The healthcare system is extremely decentralized and the goal Is to build efficient data transfer across and between departments, devices, and health systems.

So, how can cloud computing in healthcare do its part in tackling data interoperability?

  • Cloud-native provides the option to integrate machine learning and artificial intelligence to standardize data

  • Moving apps or workload to a public cloud

  • Investing in solutions that aid secure data interoperability

3. Faster, complex updates

Cloud-native is an evolving platform, with features being updated round the clock across different providers. Within your provider, it is best to discuss the solution and the possibility of updates thoroughly before embarking on using the solution. Having a set of training and instructional videos for the healthcare organization's IT department can help during troubleshooting issues, times of update, performance issues, and so on can aid to ensure uninterrupted, smoother user experience. Having sessions on data and server management exclusively from the providers during times of updates can help the team be aware of complex issues.

Cloud-native for healthcare, in a nutshell: the good over the challenges

As with every technology that operates for different sectors, personalization within the sector is key. There are features that could be beneficial for the organization and ones that may not be needed. Choosing the right cloud technology for healthcare can be the necessary boost required for your business to go beyond the traditional form of catering to a patient-centric customer base. Along with the acceleration of the pandemic, it is no longer just an option for organizations to move to cloud-native, it is a must to do so.

The market consists of a continuously evolving system of cloud services which indicates the growth of its application across industries. When the pros and cons are weighed, the pros outnumber the cons. With a cloud-native architecture, the healthcare organization can go from manually stacking files to the future of process improvement and automation, delivering direct value to patients and the workforce alike.

Well, if you’re looking to power your healthcare business with cloud-native, get in touch with Toobler - your trusted cloud-native service provider.