Over the past few years, cloud computing technology has put its sneaky paws on just about every aspect of modern life. This has included everything from mobile apps to email to computer software, so it was only a matter of time before it reached the entire health care industry. In fact, cloud computing in the health care industry is expected to see significant financial growth. To put things into perspective, this section of the health care industry is expected to be worth upwards of $5 million by 2017.
Why the Cloud? Why Now? Why at All?
The bottom line is that Electronic Health care Records (EHR) technology is in desperate need of an upgrade far beyond just having digital copies. But it doesn’t just stop at EHR upgrades, cloud technology is expected to span both clinical (imaging, diagnostic records, physician order entry) and non-clinical (budgeting, billing and social media) aspects of the industry. The big idea is that a cloud-based system will allow for app development that will help increase overall efficiency in the health care space.
Obstacles to Full-Scale Cloud Integration
Unfortunately there is some bad news. There are plenty of things that can thwart, or at least delay the full-scale merge of cloud computing and health care and they all have to do with stiff regulations. For instance the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has put the kibosh in widespread cloud adoption. The big concern has to do with third-party cloud providers having access to sensitive medical data. All other concerns are wrapped up in valid concerns like security, data recovery, IT capabilities and privacy.
Additionally, there are no major health care-based cloud-computing platforms. In fact, the largest providers roughly hold only 5 percent of the market share. This includes companies ranging from Dell to Rackspace.
Cloud Computing Advantages
Analysts are rightfully lauding cloud computing as the best thing to hit the health care industry since social media. One of the biggest advantages of using cloud computing involves patient care. Sharing patient data across multiple geographical locations greatly decreases time spent performing administrative tasks for patient visits. Additionally, physicians and other health care professionals are already storing data the cloud and seeing results – around 55 percent to be exact. Cloud computing technology is currently being used to support everything from high-end clinical applications to basic email. On top of that, about 71 percent of all health care professionals are using or planning to implement cloud computing technology in the near future.
The bottom line is that the health care in its current state uses archaic technology, if any at all, to perform basic administrative and record keeping tasks. We must move beyond data digitization and move to an efficient system for both managing and distributing patient and physician data. In the end, anything that is good for the patient is good for the health care industry as a whole. Still, health care based cloud computing will have to convince the rest of the world that the cloud is a viable computing option for the industry as a whole. This means proving that the cloud will promote security, privacy, efficiency and privacy all across the board.
-Lindsey Harper Mac
Category: Featured, Guest Post | Tags: cloud, cloud computing, digitization, Lindsey Harper Mac, Technology