“Patient centricity” has become the key trend in healthcare provisioning and is leading to the steady growth in adoption of electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EHR), personal health records (PHR), and technologies related to integrated care, patient safety, point-of-care access to demographic and clinical information, and clinical decision support. Availability of data, irrespective of the location of the patient and the clinician, has become the key to both patient satisfaction and improved clinical outcomes. Cloud technologies can significantly facilitate this trend.
Cloud computing offers significant benefits to the healthcare sector: doctor’s clinics, hospitals, and health clinics require quick access to computing and large storage facilities which are not provided in the traditional settings. Moreover, healthcare data needs to be shared across various settings and geographies which further burden the healthcare provider and the patient causing significant delay in treatment and loss of time. Cloud caters to all these requirements thus providing the healthcare organizations an incredible opportunity to improve services to their customers, the patients, to share information more easily than ever before, and improve operational efficiency at the same time.
Many pharmacology vendors are starting to tap the cloud to improve research and drug development. The ‘explosion of data’ from next generation sequencing as well as the growing importance of biologics in the research process is making cloud-based computing “an increasingly important aspect of R&D”. Currently, pharma firms do not have the capacity to run large datasets – especially DNA sequencing – as the size of the data can overwhelm their computers. Commercial cloud vendors have developed pharma-specific clinical research cloud offerings with the goal of lowering the cost and development of new drugs.
Electronic Medical Records
Hospitals and physicians are starting to see cloud-based medical records and medical image archiving services coming on line. The objective is to offload a burdensome task from hospital IT departments and allow them to focus on supporting other imperatives such as EMR adoption and improved clinical support systems.
Early successes of cloud-based physician collaboration solutions such as remote video conference physician visits are being trialed. Extending such offerings to a mobile environment for rural telehealth or disaster response is becoming more real with broader wireless broadband and smartphone adoption. Cloud technology supports collaboration and team-based care delivery and the ability to use applications based on business model requirements and a common set of clinical information.
With the increase in availability of mobile technologies and intelligent medical devices, telemedicine has grown to include not only tele-consultations and tele-surgeries, but also health record exchange, video-conferencing, and home monitoring. Cloud computing and the related ease of services deployment and data storage is an enabler for telemedicine.
Healthcare organizations turn to cloud computing to save on the costs of storing hardware locally. The cloud holds big data sets for EHRs, radiology images and genomic data for clinical drug trials. Attempting to share EHRs among facilities in various geographic areas without the benefits of cloud storage could delay treatment of patients.
Cloud computing facilitates practice and population scale information and insights are available in near real-time. This availability ensures that the most current, complete insights and clinical knowledge are available to support care provider decisions and to enable a focus on value creation related to improving outcomes rather than consumption. Information contained within a cloud can also be better analyzed and tracked (with the proper information governance) so that data on treatments, costs, performance, and effectiveness studies can be analyzed and acted upon. Information can be harvested and repurposed for more appropriate referrals and medical research to support the promise of personalized health and care.
Health Information Exchange
Health information exchanges help healthcare organizations to share data contained in largely proprietary EHR systems. CIOs may accelerate the deployment of HIE via a linkage to a strategic cloud implementation.