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    Cloud Computing in Healthcare Sector
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    Harnessing the Benefits of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Sector

    As the demand for accessing and managing data in real time increases, the healthcare industry has taken a lead in leveraging cloud migration services. In this article, we describe the concept of cloud computing in healthcare and its impact on the sector.

    The fundamentals of cloud computing

    Before getting into the role of cloud computing in the healthcare sector in detail, it’s vital to understand some technology basics. Cloud computing offers Internet access to IT services hosted on a cloud, such as software, storage, analytics, and others, which are handled by a service provider. In comparison to traditional on-premises services, a cloud extends flexibility and facilitates innovation. There are four common types of cloud computing that help to deliver the right solutions for a business:

    • Public cloud – All the computing resources from applications to networking and computing hardware are shared with all customers and managed by third-party cloud vendors. Such resources can be available for free or at a fee. A public cloud is usually suggested for testing a project, which can be later transferred to a private cloud for production.
    • Private cloud – All the cloud infrastructure and recourses are used and owned by a single company. It is usually located on the organisation’s on-site data centre, but it can be hosted by a third-party service provider if needed. A private cloud is often preferred by companies that work with confidential documents, intellectual property, or any other sensitive information.
    • Hybrid cloud – A combination of both public and private clouds. It allows seamless migration of data and applications between two clouds, enhancing flexibility and effectiveness.
    • Multicloud – Encompasses two or more clouds from various cloud vendors. Multicloud offers several benefits, including preventing vendor lock-in and the availability of a broader range of services. However, be aware that the more clouds you use, the harder it becomes to manage them.

    More and more healthcare organisations are now exploring the opportunities of integrating their IT infrastructure with the cloud; therefore, they started to actively partner with external technology vendors for expert DevOps consulting services. All cloud computing services fall under three main categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Since serverless computing is rapidly gaining momentum, some experts consider it a fourth main category. Let’s explore what each of these categories represents.

    • IaaS – A company receives on-request access to servers, storage, networking components and other fundamental IT resources from cloud computing vendors on a pay-per-use basis.
    • PaaS – Grants on-demand access to an environment for developing, testing, delivering and handling applications and services. This type of cloud service is highly beneficial for organisations that create products for multiple platforms. It provides access to various development tools without the need to purchase them right away.
    • SaaS – Provides access over the Internet to a ready-to-use solution like cloud-based software or applications. In most cases, SaaS providers offer subscriptions on a monthly or annual basis, eliminating the initial costs of purchasing the solution.
    • Serverless computing – A vendor manages the servers and infrastructure, while the client focuses on developing a code.
    Cloud Computing in Healthcare Sector

    The role of cloud computing in the healthcare industry

    The adoption of cloud technologies has been accelerating at a rapid pace. According to MarketsandMarkets research, cloud computing in the healthcare sector is projected to reach $64.7 billion by 2025.

    Within the healthcare niche, cloud computing has proved to be useful for both providers and patients. This tech innovation is well known for lowering operational costs for medical institutions and ensuring top-notch care for patients.

    The top 5 benefits cloud computing brings to the healthcare sector

    Cost-effectiveness

    The on-demand infrastructure and resources provided by cloud computing eliminate the need for expensive in-house hardware. For example, hospitals and medical providers gather large amounts of data. Establishing on-premises data storage requires investments in hardware and further costs concerning technical upgrades, managing physical space and cooling solutions.

    A cloud data centre enables a pay-as-you-go approach and reduces capital expenditures and hardware maintenance costs. Moreover, cloud computing provides medical companies with access to the latest technologies and helps them gain a competitive advantage in their sector.

    Better scalability

    Cloud computing is a beneficial solution for healthcare providers of different sizes, from large institutions to solo practitioners. It allows customers to scale up or down depending on their specific needs. For example, a customer can expand their cloud capacity when doctors’ caseloads increase – for example, during a flu season or in response to unforeseen circumstances like the current pandemic. Such flexibility can make an institution highly responsive to changing industry needs and give it an advantage over its competitors.

    Active collaboration

    Healthcare data comes from various sources, such as medical records and imaging, and it is traditionally stored on paper. Cloud storage allows customers to collect information in one place and access it when needed. It accelerates the data sharing process between medical staff, including expert physicians, nurses, caregivers and other relevant healthcare stakeholders.

    Such cloud-enabled interoperability gives real-time visibility into patients' medical histories, ensures better cooperation between specialists who need a recommendation or consultation from a colleague, and allows doctors to analyse treatment data for future reference. As a result, cloud storage leads to improved healthcare planning and boosts the efficiency of the process.

    Advanced analytics

    Cloud databases containing all relevant healthcare information can be used to gain valuable insights. Moreover, technologies allow for processing massive amounts of data within minutes. Applying artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyse cloud records can facilitate medical research, predict pandemic outbreaks and find the causes of diseases. Computer algorithms can also analyse the components that are most effective for a specific condition or a particular patient. Advanced analytics can significantly contribute to personalised care plans and faster treatment.

    Security

    Data security is often considered a roadblock in the adoption of cloud computing. However, when compared to paper-based or in-house stored medical data, cloud storage is no less secure. Paper records can be easily damaged, misplaced or stolen, and on-premises infrastructure is exposed to the same level of cyberthreats as cloud solutions.

    Moreover, cloud solutions can be a more secure option with preventive security measures, appropriate monitoring and well-trained specialists. For example, sensitive data stored on a local computer cannot be restored or deleted if the device is stolen. Medical information in the cloud can be remotely accessed, recovered or wiped via any device with an Internet connection.

    Key takeaways

    The adoption of cloud computing is in its early stages in the medical sector. But such adoption opens up many opportunities for healthcare stakeholders, including enhanced efficiency, lower expenditure, and personalised customer experiences among many others.

    Contact us today to learn whether cloud computing could be right for your business and discover the advantages it could bring.

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