Cloud computing in the healthcare industry is a booming market. One recent report projected the market to grow from 2018 to 2022 by more than $16 billion.
The reason why so many healthcare providers are making the switch to the cloud is because it offers enormous benefits, including:
- Cost savings;
- Better data organization;
- Predictive data analytics that improve patient care;
- Continuity of care;
- Less downtime; and
- Dependable data security.
However, cloud computing isn’t a perfect solution. There are still a few challenges that healthcare providers have to address, such as:
- Bolstering data security in the cloud;
- Creating secure data backups; and
- Providing access to data during power or network outages.
The good news is that these three challenges are easy to overcome when you work with an experienced cloud computing firm. This guide will help you decide whether cloud computing is right for your healthcare business and offer tips on what you can do to successfully make the transition.
The Pros of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Industry
Cloud computing is the process of using remote servers to store, organize, process, and analyze data. Unlike traditional data computing, healthcare facilities don’t have to own and operate server rooms. Additionally, there’s no need to store data on magnetic tape, hard drives, or other physical storage systems. Everything is easily accessed via the cloud from any authorized device.
There are a number of advantages of cloud computing in the healthcare industry. This technology can help in every area of healthcare, from daily facility operations to patient care. To determine whether cloud computing is right for your business, take a look at the following benefits:
- Cost savings. You won’t spend money building server rooms, buying expensive data storage equipment, or maintaining these physical systems. Outsourcing the servers and network helps reduce operational costs.
- Data organization. When you store everything in the cloud, the data is easier to process. The flow of data is also much smoother. All authorized users have access to the latest data, which improves communications throughout a facility dramatically..
- Predictive analytics. With all of the data stored securely in the cloud, the analytics process is more accurate. This is especially important in healthcare because it can help providers offer patients better care. When all patient records are up to date, providers can use advanced analytics algorithms to identify health risks, track treatment results, and analyze patient behavior to improve satisfaction.
- Continuity of care. Keeping track of your patients’ health histories is vital. If your patient needs to see a specialist or visit another branch location, their health records should follow them. Cloud-stored patient data such as known allergies, treatment plans, and prescribed medications can be transferred to other authorized healthcare facilities easily. You’ll protect patients from negative drug interactions, overprescribing, and other medical problems.
- Scalability. As your healthcare practice grows, you can quickly add new technologies, open new branches, or move to larger buildings without risking data loss. To move your data or increase storage space, contact your IT department or cloud computing provider and they will handle the details.
- Less downtime. Cloud computing providers offer service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee very little downtime. Some guarantee as much as 99.9 percent uptime. The more backup servers and networks the provider uses, the less downtime you’ll experience.
- Reliable data security. Although there are still some security challenges, for the most part, cloud computing is very safe. Healthcare isn’t the only industry that depends on secure storage and transactions. We have more tools available than ever to protect sensitive data, such as encryption, firewalls, authorized user profiles, two or three-factor security access points and more. In some cases, storing data in the cloud can actually be more secure than physical data storage systems, as there’s no risk of the storage room being left unlocked or unattended. Employees also aren’t as likely to accidentally take private data home on their laptops or tablets. If someone steals the device, they would be unable to access the data because nothing is stored on the device’s hard drive.
Cloud computing in the healthcare industry has evolved significantly over the past few years. It’s becoming the new standard in healthcare, especially as cloud security improves. It’s only a matter of time before every healthcare facility begins using this technology, which is why you should start thinking about making the transition today.
The Cons of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Industry
While the benefits of cloud computing in the healthcare industry are clear, there are still a few downsides, such as:
- Data security breaches. Although cloud computing providers take data security seriously, there’s always a risk of data breaches. It’s impossible to make a system that is 100 percent safe. However, you can combat this problem by hiring an experienced team of data security experts. They will not only ensure that your system is well-secured using encryption, authorization checkpoints, and strong firewalls, but can help train your staff on security best practices. With the right security tools and protocols in place, your data will be as safe as possible.
- Loss of data in the cloud. Another issue with storing data in the cloud is the risk of corruption. This is also an issue when you store data on hard drives or magnetic tape. Corrupted files may be impossible to recover without an effective backup system. As long as you have your data stored in a secure backup location in the cloud, you can recover your lost data immediately. So, while data loss can impact cloud-based systems, it’s also easier to prevent this problem than if you have data stored in a physical location. That’s because maintaining two separate data storage rooms is much more costly and difficult than keeping backup data stored on another remote server.
- Connectivity disruptions. One problem that is unique to cloud computing in the healthcare industry is the loss of connectivity due to network errors or power outages. If your device can’t connect to the cloud, then you can’t access the data. To prevent this problem, many cloud computing providers have multiple servers and networks at many different locations. If a server is down, the provider can automatically connect you to one of the other working servers. Healthcare facilities like hospitals also have multiple backup generators, so you’re unlikely to completely lose access to data even during power outages.
You can mitigate these problems by choosing the right cloud computing provider. When you speak with a provider for the first time, ask them about these three issues in particular. The best providers will have specific tools that they use to address each problem and thoroughly protect your facility and patient data.
Is Cloud Computing Right for You? Weighing the Pros and Cons
The pros of cloud computing in the healthcare industry far outnumber the cons. The challenges of cloud computing can be addressed using advanced data security measures and reliable backup systems.
This technology is especially helpful for large-scale enterprises that have to manage multiple branches. Smaller enterprises will also find cloud computing useful for organizing data, improving data security, lowering operational costs, and providing the best patient care.
If you want to make the most of cloud computing, use a knowledgeable IT firm that specializes in this technology. The firm will design a custom solution based on your business structure and strategy. Experts can also help you upload data into the new system, create a user-friendly platform for your staff, and train everyone on security best practices. By the end of the process, you’ll have an efficient, secure cloud computing system that helps improve patient care.