The drive for healthcare reform in the US has thrown up a surprise winner: the healthcare cloud. A recent industry report projected the market for healthcare IT cloud to be upward of $5.4bn in the next five years. While healthcare providers have been traditionally wary of adopting cloud technologies due to regulatory demands on patient data protection, the sudden convergence of a slew of factors is making these organizations seriously consider adopting cloud technologies
For one, the healthcare legislation passed by the Obama administration will force healthcare providers to do more with less and expect them to do that by adopting cloud technologies - much like businesses across the world are doing in a sluggish economy. Cloud -based services can help the healthcare industry to help monitor, analyze and react to real-time patient information.
For healthcare providers, cloud offers quick access to computing power and large storage facilities, which are usually not available with on-premise IT infrastructure. Shifting to cloud will enable speedy sharing of healthcare data and electronic health records (EHRs) across geographies to facilitate speedy treatment in emergencies, improving patient experience and outcomes. The cloud can serve both clinical and non-clinical uses -- clinical applications consist of EHRs, physician order entry and software for imaging and pharmacy use, while non-clinical applications include revenue cycle management, patient billing and claims management.
Another catalyst in the adoption of healthcare cloud is the increasing role of health information exchanges (HIEs). HIE systems enable the movement of clinical information among disparate healthcare information systems electronically to enable continuity of care. They interlink the various healthcare providers and help physicians and care givers meet high standards of patient care.
Further, a change in perception about the security cloud-based systems can offer to keep patient data secure, confidential, traceable, reversible and preserved is also aiding the shift to cloud. Many healthcare providers are now realizing that a private cloud system can provide better or equivalent security to storing patient data in on-premise hardware. By contrast, public cloud is not considered as secure as it stores data on various locations depending on availability, although even this perception might change sooner than later considering the projected expansion of public cloud across business sectors.