Storing data on the cloud reduces operational overhead and makes essential functions seamless. Hospitals have finally taken notice.
Due to strict regulations and complex, legacy infrastructure, among other reasons, the healthcare industry has been somewhat behind the curve in terms of digital technology adoption. But it would seem as though hospitals have, at long last, begun investing in updating their operational capacity for the 21st century on a wide scale. From Internet of Things (IoT) tech to remote patient monitoring to EHRs, these institutions are revving up to meet increased medical demand and evolving standards. Indeed, a recent report notes that hospitals plan to spend more than $5 billion on cloud computing by 2025.
But in order for hospitals to realize cloud computing’s full potential, it’s essential they understand what benefits the emerging technology offers, as well as how it might fit into their organization’s larger digital ecosystem.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing
The cloud makes it possible for institutions to “offshore” their data to third-party vendors like Apple or Google. Instead of unwieldy, siloed legacy, and relatively inaccessible legacy data systems, cloud systems enable users to remotely access proprietary information across devices. Freed from the operational overhead of costly monitoring and repairs, users can instead invest in their own essential functioning while cloud vendors collect, protect, and manage their data.
Though digital transformation in hospitals won’t take place instantaneously, it’s important to understand how the cloud can contribute to the streamlined execution of job responsibilities for hospital staff and providers after a technological overhaul. After all, cloud computing makes for a vital introduction to a larger digital evolution while simultaneously offering significant cost savings. Equipped with cloud capabilities, hospitals can begin to lay the groundwork for IoT technologies and improved data analytics in their day-to-day operations.
Additionally, the cloud allows for improved data recovery in the event of system failure or natural disaster. In many cases, legacy data systems store information on local servers, which may go offline in a crisis situation. Data stored in the cloud is backed up in multiple, remote locations, meaning it can be easily recovered should an issue or emergency situation arise.
Stepping into the Cloud
Hospitals that hope to begin the transition to the cloud must first assess their existing institutional culture. Since some IT departments may not have experience working with the cloud, some key applications may be tied to legacy computing solutions that will need to be phased out over time.
After understanding where their current digital infrastructure stands, hospital administrators can begin to outline and articulate a vision of what their cloud computing future looks like, as well as noting what will need to change in order to preserve essential operational capacity before, during, and after the transition.
For IT staff who have been trained on legacy data systems, this includes preparing them for considerable disruptions in their daily work responsibilities, as well as training them for new roles and assessing whether bringing on additional talent will be necessary. For clinicians, the move to cloud computing will require coordination when it comes to preserving and accessing patient health information, especially as it relates to applications integrated into health offerings in recent years. You’ll also need to educate patients on how the transition will impact them — in other words, how this will impact the way in which their care is delivered and how they stand to benefit.
For hospitals, the transition to the cloud is undoubtedly going to be an involved process that will require a great deal of time and resources to get right. However, in light of the broader digital disruption that’s already rocking the healthcare industry at large, it’s definitely a long-overdue step in the right direction.