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Cloud computing in healthcare: advantages and disadvantages

November 04, 2022

8 minutes read

Cloud technologies are becoming increasingly firmly established in various spheres of life. The cloud-based medical information system has recently experienced a real boom. According to experts, cloud computing in healthcare can reach $911 billion by 2028.

In healthcare, you have always had to work with large amounts of data, and until recently, they were stored in paper archives. This approach brought a lot of inconvenience to both doctors and patients. Finding the necessary documents often took a lot of time, and their storage required space. In addition, there needed to be more information connections between various medical institutions, which did not allow data transfer directly.

All this has led to the implementation of new technologies in the medical industry. However, new difficulties arose with the digitization of all data. It turned out that in this form, the data also requires many storage resources. Using your server hardware turned out to be too costly and highly inconvenient. In addition, there was again the problem of digital communication between various clinics and hospitals.

But with the development of healthcare cloud services, it was possible to solve several problems and create a compelling and convenient information system for managing the medical field.

What is cloud computing in healthcare?

The medical services sector is gradually but rather quickly adopting cloud computing technologies to its field. Modern world medicine, focusing on the patient and adhering to the main goal, creates requirements for improving the quality of clinical results and medical services. All these guarantees improved quality and extended life duration: quick, secure, and remote access to patient information. Today, only cloud technologies have real potential to meet this requirement.

Medical professionals can exchange patient information with each other more efficiently. All patient data are stored in the electronic medical records on a cloud server:

  • Complete the medical history of the patient.
  • The exact injuries’ dates and their nature, vaccinations, and disease manifestations.
  • Radiological and other images, MRI, CT, etc.
  • Cardiograms.
  • Test results.
  • Information about medicines.
  • Video recordings of surgeries and any other administrative and clinical data.

Authorized doctors in different clinics obtain access to this personal, protected data. It allows you to optimize the clinician’s workflow, make more accurate and faster diagnoses, and plan correct and, importantly, timely treatment.

Benefits of cloud computing in healthcare

Data storage. The cloud made it possible to solve the problems of storing electronic medical records of patients, test results, and other information.

  • Scalability.
  • Safety.
  • Cost optimization.

How can cloud computing improve the healthcare industry?

The industry’s rapid growth can be attributed to the number of benefits that cloud computing brings to healthcare organizations. Among them are increased mobility, a remote office, simplified collaboration with patients and colleagues, the ability to implement and use new powerful analytical tools, the convenience of storing medical information in electronic form, and the ability to use more efficient telemedicine and data storage solutions.

Cloud healthcare solutions are also helpful for medical organizations (clinics, medical centers) that need fast access to significant computing power and storage space. With the help of clouds, healthcare providers in different regions can easily share data, thereby avoiding delays in patient care. Also, clouds make it easier to scale IT infrastructure and reduce the initial investment for a new medical business.

A significant factor driving the adoption of cloud-based approaches in healthcare is the ability of physicians, clinics, and laboratories to use patient medical data to provide more efficient services and increase operational efficiency. These include, for example, the ability to prescribe treatment electronically, create and use electronic medical records, use special software for pharmacies and diagnostic imaging methods, and issue electronic invoices.

Cloud healthcare solutions are also ideal for storing large amounts of information: genomic data, imaging data, and information about clinical trials of drugs.

Different healthcare organizations, such as research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, can constantly exchange information with medical institutions such as hospitals and polyclinics (for example, about the availability of drugs). 

Automating the treatment process and personalized preventive medicine reduces the time spent on each visit. Electronic queue, electronic dentistry and laboratory, remote receipt of test results, EHR and sick leave, electronic social insurance system, and medical archive. All this reduces paperwork and other routines so that doctors can devote maximum working time directly to the patient’s health problems.

Cloud computing in healthcare helps to save a lot on infrastructure up to the complete absence of investments. The infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models offered by cloud service providers make it possible to replace expensive software purchases and considerable investments in the infrastructure of a medical institution with the rental of these models and access to them via the Internet. Plus, only those server resources the organization uses are paid, and if necessary, it can increase the capacity or storage volumes. The use of cloud technologies, coupled with the technical support of a cloud service provider, allows medical enterprises to save significantly on IT staff costs since there is no need to maintain their own data storage infrastructure.

Security is taken to a new level. Fault tolerance, data recovery, and confidentiality have become possible thanks to various technologies (backup, end-to-end encryption, disaster recovery, etc.), which, with the traditional approach, require huge costs (including the cost of correcting errors by employees incompetent in this IT field) or are entirely impossible. When renting cloud capacities, they are included in the package of services from the provider (where security issues are dealt with by professionals who guarantee a certain, relatively high level of security).

It becomes possible to receive high-quality medical consultations without leaving home: telemedicine. Remote consultations based on electronic patient data stored in the cloud are already emerging. With the development of cloud computing in healthcare, teleconsultation is expected to become the future of the medical industry. The telemedicine market has grown in recent years. As of 2015, the global telemedicine market was valued at $18 billion and is expected to be valued at more than $41 billion by 2021. Various factors have fueled the market’s growth, including the cost of traditional medical services, the funding of telemedicine, and the increased number of digital health users. Telemedicine is especially relevant for people with disabilities and significantly reduces the burden on medical centers and clinics. At the same time, no one cancels a “live” doctor: for example, applications like the British cloud service Ada, based on AI, can ask a patient about his complaints, analyze test results and give recommendations (including which specialist, when and with what questions it is worth visiting).

Types of cloud computing in healthcare

Public cloud

The service provider owns all software, AO, and other related infrastructure in a public cloud. The client uses dedicated resources through a cloud computing platform and has limited customization. A prime example is Microsoft Azure.

Private cloud

The peculiarity of a private cloud is that all computing resources will belong only to your company. Such a cloud is hosted in the provider’s data center. All infrastructure and services are hosted on a private network, meaning the company will not have neighbors who can borrow resources. A prime example is TechExpert’s private cloud.

Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud is a combination of private and public clouds. They are interconnected by a unique technology that allows you to efficiently move from one cloud to another without losing efficiency and information.

Tools for remote work with patients

Telemedicine

Today, telemedicine is developing very actively in many countries. The global attendance of telemedicine services can grow ten times: from 36 million visits at the beginning of 2020 to 350 million trips by the beginning of 2023.

For the full development of telemedicine, a well-functioning infrastructure is needed to provide quick access to patient data. Services use IaaS platforms: a cloud computing model when an organization accesses the power in the cloud. It is essential that when using such a model, an unlimited number of users from any location can work in the service. For example, clouds have helped the American service Amwell scale faster. The company now works with 2,000 hospitals and 36,000 employees.

Extended usage

Storing data in home is a real headache for hospital staff. There are case files to be updated, patient records to be tracked, staff records to be maintained, and many other small tasks. Cloud systems allow logging in from any site using web servers. It easily interacts and instantly exchanges data with other bodies. Users receive automatically updated data without any software maintenance issues. Thus, previously such database usability was not possible, and updating it took time and effort.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Continuous integration is possible regarding technological advancement in the healthcare sector. But with these two technological developments, the healthcare industry has everything. While hospitals are still grappling with the complexities of databases, cloud computing supports the transition of AI to healthcare operations. This helps to optimize all the small functions and tasks that any employee must perform. AI is helping the healthcare industry in a variety of ways, such as:

  • It helps to detect, diagnose and treat emergency conditions such as cancer.
  • Robotic process automation is possible with cloud servers for accurate and timely information.

Cloud computing in healthcare – risks

The main risk is the storage of sensitive data. Hospitals, medical centers, and laboratories work with sensitive information of different categories: customer contacts, medical records, and genetic information. Most of this data belongs to the class of personal data, and accordingly, it must comply with all security requirements prescribed by law. Leading providers annually improve their expertise in the field of data security. Gartner predicted that over the course of the current year, 95% of cloud data breaches would be the fault of customers, not service providers. By 2023, the IaaS model will be 60% more secure than an organization’s own data center.

How can we help you implement cloud computing for healthcare?

VITech uses the latest information and communication technologies to develop and support faster, more efficient, and cost-effective healthcare practices. This technological transformation of healthcare has become a worldwide trend. The main tasks here are: increasing the availability, comfort, and quality of medical care for people worldwide; timely, accurate diagnosis; deep medical analytics; getting rid of the routine of doctors. High technologies help to solve all these problems with the allocation of serious computing power and the technical support of IT specialists, which have become available to organizations of any scale and direction of medicine only thanks to cloud computing in healthcare.

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