In addition to embracing big data analytics, the healthcare industry’s use of the cloud is aggressively growing. The cloud platform is very secure, and this means that confidentiality of patient information can be maintained. It is also scalable, thus allowing economic growth as data set continues to increase, and performance needs change. Lastly, it is collaborative, and this enables researchers to work efficiently with external partners.

Because of this, the healthcare industry has so far invested close to $3.73 billion in cloud services, and this figure is set to grow to at least $9.5 billion by 2020. Cloud computing adoption in the healthcare industry is set to rise as doctor and patients demand security, access to information and cost efficiency.

Several years ago, the healthcare industry mostly used cloud-based solutions for back-office needs like secure exchange of patient information, email and data exchange. A recent survey has however indicated that cloud adoption for other purposes in the healthcare industry is expanding quickly.

The study showed that 59% of the respondents were using or planning to use cloud solutions for big data analysis purposes. Predictions have shown that telemedicine or virtual care will explode in the next few years. Soon, 70% of all routine doctor visits will no longer require face-to-face interaction – thanks to cloud computing.

The healthcare industry will start relying on virtual care soon. The survey indicated that 80% of patient interactions would depend on the Internet of Things and big data. Both of these benefit from cloud computing and will boost patient care by 2021.

On the other hand, 73% of the industry professionals will host patient empowerment tools in the cloud – another key driver towards cloud adoption. This means that patients can receive resources from healthcare providers through cloud-based applications. These resources will allow the patients to educate themselves, monitor their own health and store and share their medical records.

Some healthcare facilities are using cloud-based applications to help diabetes patients take a greater control of their glucose data.

So, why have health care organizations chosen to use the cloud to address their needs? Cloud-based applications are very scalable depending on the on their demand. They are also accessible and very flexible, that is, from a development perspective. Updates can be done in a central place and then distributed to other environments easily.

The flexibility of these apps extends to include collaboration, thus creating increased opportunity. This will enable large companies to partner with smaller innovators and do their business in a secure, agile and cost-efficient environment. Basically, the entire idea of cloud computing comes down to cost in the end.

Today, the healthcare industry is under constant pressure to move from capital-intensive technologies to operational expenses which offer flexibility are focused on their core business. Managers want to invest in cash flow-generating activities which allow then deliver improved outcomes. Therefore, cloud computing will enable healthcare organizations to focus on healthcare delivery only rather than data centers and skilled professionals to operate and maintain them.

So, what’s in the future?

The healthcare industry will inevitably adopt new ways of utilizing the cloud following the industry’s increased reliance on cloud computing and the need to the sector to be flexible, collaborative and focused on the customer. Because of this, there are several predictions about emerging trends:

  • More patient-doctor interaction – soon, there will be more two-way communication between doctors and patients as healthcare delivery will now be centered on mobile devices, wearable technology and instant alerts amongst others.
  • Real-time records – patients and physicians will be able to have real-time access to health records through the connected devices. Thus, they will have a more holistic picture of their health as it happens. The trend will also help expose community and healthcare issues more quickly by providing information aggregated from a population level.
  • More data ownership – developers will introduce tools which will assist individuals to take more ownership of their own health. Patients will also be able to connect their experiences with schools, government organizations, legislative bodies and other entities. Think of this a virtual health information exchange.
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