IT for healthcare is fraught with complexities. Consumerization of IT, hybridization of infrastructures, mobility of staff, regulatory fines add to the complexity and demand a focused and committed IT leadership and a deeper awareness of IT issues from the employees. It is, therefore, not surprising that the biggest strides in Cloud computing have been taken by the health care industry in 2013; and trends indicate that Cloud adoption is on an uptrend.
A quick review of the reasons for the directed change from on premise to off premise Cloud computing infrastructures is revealing.
It is moot that healthcare employees are becoming increasingly mobile and use a number of different devices to connect to health care databases from wherever they are. They expect a high level of performance, ease of use and flexibility of service from the Cloud vendors, and are very vociferous in their demand for high availability and uninterrupted information access. Cloud vendors too have risen up to the demand and are competing with each other to provide the kind of service that is demanded of them. They are willing to provide flexible delivery plans that adapt to the changing needs of the employees and the devices they use to connect to the network. The services take into account overall context, device type, location, time zone, user specific application needs and make the effort required to optimize the workspace and keep them productive while on the move.
The most time consuming and cumbersome task is the update of Electronic Health records. Mobile healthcare professionals do not like to wait to record their observations on the Hospital computer nor concern themselves with security issues associated with remote access. They do not want to grapple with multiple logins and passwords for different applications and look for ease of access and use. Cloud services help centralize user access management, implement pre-defined permission based logins to facilitate single login access across applications for each user. Health care workers can now spend more productive time with their patients.
Finally, compliance and security are automated for healthcare Clouds and end users do not have to concern themselves about either. Data is automatically encrypted in transit and stored encrypted at rest. Data retention rules can be fed as inputs to the system and data is stored for future recovery without any kind of human intervention. High availability is ensured using replication and mirroring with failover provisioning between servers so that users remain unaware of switchovers and failovers. Storage space concerns no longer bother users, as the Cloud is infinitely scalable.