Until recently, hospitals centered around contagious diseases and industrial accidents, all of which presupposed ad hoc interventions. With such a post World War II approach, people were mainly treated only after they became sick.
This inability to associate data sources with individual life experiences has given rise to a system that is cumbersome, inefficient, and costly. It fails to benefit from the potential offered by the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), healthcare cloud solutions, and other related technologies.
For healthcare providers to cut operating costs, deal with inefficiencies, offer exceptional patient care, and connect all the participants of the value chain (suppliers, employees, and customers), they must take a whole new approach to service delivery.
In essence, they must focus on averting and expertly managing chronic diseases through the use of connected applications and information sources to improve patients’ well-being and increase their life expectancy consequently.
Admittedly, cloud computing is only part of the answer. However, it’s one of the initial steps on the way to successful digital transformation in healthcare, and it’s critical to get it right the first time. Over the years, TEAM International partnered with dozens of healthcare organizations to help them engage better with their patients, improve caregivers’ workflows, streamline processes, and lower costs.
Most importantly, healthcare cloud services always were a part of the strategy. In this article, we’ll share insights analyzing the main challenges and nuances and offer guidance for medical institutions migrating to the cloud.
Challenges of Cloud Computing in Healthcare: What to Consider
Cloud computing is a conceptual framework in digital technology, and since recently, it’s being widely utilized in the life sciences sector. With this context, it’s hardly surprising that the healthcare cloud computing market is projected to hit $40 billion by 2026.
Despite a common belief, the healthcare cloud isn’t only about handy storage and management of medical information. It’s also about “always-on” data and their seamless transmission among all the stakeholders regardless of time or space barriers. It’s also about improved productivity of your staff and cost-effective operations in the long run.
To benefit from healthcare cloud computing in life sciences, healthcare organizations will first need to address both business and technology challenges, including:
- Ever-growing business needs and cases that may result in biased data, error-prone procedures, and expensive manual interventions;
- Legacy platforms and antiquated technologies that are not only costly and difficult to maintain, but also hinder your innovation and growth;
- Strongly dependent obsolete systems that make any modifications and system enhancements prone to errors and extremely complicated;
- The complexity of new technologies and solutions that requires a thorough analysis of immediate and lasting value propositions, careful implementation, as well as staff onboarding and training;
- System security that still remains a top-of-mind challenge for private and public institutions, amid the ongoing evolution of cyberattacks. Given the acuteness of this problem, we’re going to cover it in more detail.
Dissecting Security Imperative, Compliance, and Healthcare Cloud Computing
It is no secret that medical institutions have been the primary target of hacking attacks in the last few years. Among the most common practices are DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, data breaches, ransomware attacks, and phishing.
Even with all the technological advancements, healthcare providers still find themselves vulnerable, mainly due to obsolete IT systems and a lack of unified safety standards across organizations. To satisfy customer expectations, hospitals add departmental servers, laptops, mobile devices, and other gadgets, thus not only creating more access points for hackers but also encumbering regulatory compliance.
As virtual healthcare gains traction, organizations will need to invest more in security solutions and services to anticipate risks and hold them at bay. With healthcare cloud managed services, institutions create and maintain a centralized approach to data storage, management, and protection while ensuring better compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, and similar regulations.
The implementation of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics helps firms detect data breach patterns and threat agents to take immediate countermeasures.
In general, working on security, organizations should focus on identity management and device authentication, the security of wearables and medical devices, telemedicine or virtual system behavioral analysis and security monitoring, the adoption of the DevSecOps mindset.
The latter is a rather new approach for IT teams, but it has already proved effective in our practice. DevSecOps stands for ‘development, security, operations,’ and it suggests putting privacy, restrictions, security, and policy at the heart of any IT delivery model.
What does it mean for healthcare organizations? — Cyber risk management used to be compliance-based, and it was typically introduced late in the software development cycle. With DevSecOps, security practices are realized on each stage of system design (from start to finish), and every member of the team becomes responsible for product security.
Our experience shows that with such a comprehensive approach to system reliability, companies reduce the possibilities of security breaches and associated costs, and improve their compliance with domestic and global requirements.
How to Prepare for Cloud Adoption in Healthcare?
Finally, when we’ve discussed all the nuances associated with healthcare cloud computing systems and applications, let’s move on to answering the most urgent question that we regularly get from CIOs and IT Directors: “So, where should we start?”.
Although they’re principally looking for a technical response, it’s more like an operational business solution. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve, for example:
- Advanced security;
- Regulatory compliance;
- Cost savings;
- Better data backup and protection;
- Improved employees’ and customers’ experiences;
Indeed, the combination of ‘cloud computing and healthcare’ is more complex than mere data migration and tactical shift. Organizations should elaborate on a thorough cloud strategy with a comprehensive view of all business operations that may become a part of that journey.
They should identify which systems and applications can be moved to the new infrastructure now, which should be transferred later, and which services or apps can’t be virtualized at all due to operational or technical restrictions.
The next step is about assigning internal IT resources and clinical personnel to manage and drive the adoption of cloud technology in healthcare. Be sure to arm them with the necessary tools and techniques, time, and budget to make your project a success.
This team will also need to collect data and estimate the return on investment (ROI), including not only direct costs of buying on-site hardware and software but also future support and maintenance expenses. The ROI assessment should also cover the value of improved security and compliance, along with agility and speed ensured by cloud technology in healthcare industry.
Finally, be ready to make decisions. Assessment shouldn’t turn into a never-ending process, so it’s crucial to set concrete goals and fix the deadline. To mitigate risks, you can start with pilot projects and thus enable your team to gain experience working with the new environment.
Alternatively, you can partner with TEAM International — one of the most experienced healthcare managed service providers globally — to make your migration smooth, secure, and effective. With almost three-decade in the industry, TEAM brings unique capabilities and superior service, providing the insights and skills you need to deal with the most complex technical and business challenges.