By Paul Niemeyer
March 28, 2014
How Cloud Storage is Helping Revitalize the Healthcare Industry
Among numerous path-breaking technologies that the world is embracing to take their data management services to the next level, cloud computing is sitting pretty at the front of the line as the MVP of the bunch. While the promise of miracle-making innovations like the Internet of Things and the Semantic Web still remains a promise, the prospects for a full-fledged cloud revolution grow stronger every day.
One of the many industries that have felt the blessed touch of cloud computing in their workflow is none other than the healthcare industry. Being the most regulated and heavily scrutinized industry in the world, healthcare facilities are compelled to adopt the most cutting-edge technologies to give them even the slightest of edge in their daily battle against death and disease. This is where cloud storage steps in to offer a seamless platform for backing up and retrievingessential electronic health records (EHR).
Yes, you heard it right! Even the most risk-averse industry is warming up to the idea of allowing a full-scale digitization of patient records and storing them on the cloud for uber-convenient 24/7 access. It’s not uncommon to see doctors casually strolling into hospital rooms, swiftly sweeping through their patient’s history with their finger tips, updating recovery progress and instantly delivering the healthcare services required by the patient.
Most industry experts have attributed the large-scale influx of cloud services in the medical industry to improved security protocols, increased cost-efficacy, and most importantly, the need for an expedient data management platform.
Dissecting the Benefits of Cloud Storage in the Healthcare Industry
Healthcare organizations are beginning to acknowledge the tremendous benefits involved in transitioning from paper-based processes to electronic health records, which is why they have been proactively laying the optimum infrastructure for fulfilling the federal conditions for the meaningful use of EHR systems.
Now I’ve always been a cloud fanatic when it comes to its role in improving enterprise workflow, but the level of data security offered by cloud storage vendors has tickled a sense of paranoia to some extent. Fortunately, the HIPAA business associate agreements are helping foster a trustworthy business relationship between cloud vendors and healthcare organizations by protecting all the sensitive medical records of their patients.
For an industry where every second can make a difference between life and death, it’s befuddling how almost 75% of hospital communications are still conducted over fax. Luckily, the healthcare industry scheduled itself a much-needed reality check and has started its road to recovery with a healthy dose of cloud integration.
However, you will be surprised to know that cloud storage for EHR is only the tip of the iceberg. As cloud services mature, the healthcare industry will strive towards the development of an all-encompassing medical data sharing network that is compatible with multiple systems and establish collaborative healthcare partnerships with other medical facilities.
Human biology is an ever-perplexing maze of innumerable complexities, and so it isn’t uncommon for patients to share thousands of overlapping symptoms from hundreds of distinct diseases. Aside from this challenge, medical professionals also have to contend with the incredibly diverse biological characteristics of each patient. A doctor is no more than a detective for your body, which is why it’s imperative to empower him with as much personal medical information as possible for him to correctly diagnose you.
Imagine the clarity in medical diagnosis your physician can offer you when he has a fully detailed summary of your congenital conditions, allergies, injuries, medication history, etc. at the touch of his fingertips. This enhancement in performance metrics is helping the healthcare industry take a giant leap in the direction of personalized healthcare for patients.
What the Future Holds For the Cloud Healthcare Industry
A handful of research studies conducted by Gaudet and Imprivata have predicted the innovation of several cloud-based medical applications and services designed exclusively to complement the cloud infrastructure utilized by the healthcare industry. Services like secure text messaging for off-site communication with patients are bound to see a significant growth over the next couple of years.
Although the interweaving of EHR cloud storage services with various clinical apps is surely going to trigger some noteworthy HIPAA privacy issues, the utilization of a refined virtual desktop infrastructure will help curb them to a major extent. Mobile devices that are secured with well-defined policy-focused encryption technology will be able to cut out an optimum solution for healthcare organizations and their patients.
Another important thing to factor in is that the boundaries of the healthcare industries are not merely limited to the map of hospitals; it’s extended to include various specialists, medical technicians, and home healthcare providers. A cross-platform syncing of these individual clouds can help build an interoperable healthcare IT network. Hence, your personal physician can now access a treasure trove of fully updated medical information to give you not the most effective form of treatment rather than bank on a trial-and-error method of diagnosis.
With the immense volume of medical information that is quickly growing in detail and resolutionevery year, it’s becoming clearer how the integration of cloud infrastructure was an inevitable decision for the healthcare industry to improve its standards. The innovation of cloud-based EHR records does away with the massive storage space requirement in the data centers of healthcare organizations without a need to periodically dispose old records to make space for new ones. This means that the costs of cloud storage are likely to multiply by several folds over the next few decades.
Luckily, all you need to curb this future storage expenditure crisis is to simply make a minor tweak in the current cloud infrastructure used by healthcare industries. Medical facilities can leverage their cloud vendor to store the EHR of all patients who are clinically stable and do not require critical attention in the hospital. These records can then be accessed via a dedicated healthcare application portal only when required by medical professionals, which can help cut down massive upfront and recurring maintenance costs related to in-house data storage.
Medical records have lifelong implications and must be ideally retained forever rather than the currently mandated period of 5 years. In case of emergency situations, there’s no room for thorough diagnosis and treatment measures must be executed immediately by doctors. Unfortunately, this method of cure can gravitate towards being a gamble since the medical professional overseeing your treatment may not have the adequate medical data at his behest to make the right call.