The potential for cloud computing within the healthcare industry is tremendous, fostering tighter collaboration among professionals and better patient education, for starters. The same benefits that are set to propel adoption are also seen as a hindrance or risk by some though, and the market is treading very carefully when it comes to the cloud.
There is no mistake that healthcare is moving steadily toward the cloud, and MarketsandMarkets estimates the current market around $3.73 billion. Revenues are expected to grow at a healthy rate of 20.5 percent too, with the market forecast to reach $9.48 billion by 2020. The main growth drivers are a need to rein in rising costs while providing a better standard of care. The main inhibitors are questions about security, as always, and in this case surrounding the privacy and handling of sensitive patient data.
A recent article in 4Medapproved sums up the advantages of cloud computing for the healthcare sector pretty succinctly. Being able to share patient information in real time throughout a large medical campus, or multiple campuses, fosters collaboration and better care among health professionals. Furthermore, cloud technologies enable easy communication like ad hoc videoconferencing, real-time annotation and note taking on charts and records and levels of accessibility to data that were previously unheard of.
Cloud technologies are usually very user friendly as well, and are largely device agnostic. So medical professionals can use a wide range of devices and applications to access and share important data, even if they are mobile.
At the same time, medical institutions have to comply with a number of strict laws regarding sensitive information like HIPAA. Security and privacy are paramount within the healthcare sector and cloud applications are only as strong as the networks and data centers backing them up.
Luckily many advances are being made to accommodate the growing demand for secure cloud computing, particularly in the sensitive areas of healthcare and finance. Networks are being re-architected to run more securely and efficiently, and data centers are being reconfigured to store large amounts of sensitive data more logically and at a lower price point. As demand for better quality care grows, along with the amount of data being generated, healthcare organizations may be expected to increasingly look to the cloud for efficiencies and a host of advantages.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino