The Advantages of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

March 28, 2019 - 7 minutes read

cloud computing in healthcare

Information Technology plays a vital role in maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of today’s healthcare organizations. To support operational and clinical care needs, each facility’s infrastructure has been expanding in recent years to keep up. This need to scale won’t change anytime soon—companies are only becoming more dependent on technology for administrative, financial, and clinical functions.

As a result of this rapid growth, medical organizations are just as much technology companies as they are healthcare providers. Fortunately, the options for reliable IT infrastructure have also expanded in recent years. But one stands above the rest: the cloud.

By 2018’s end, it is estimated that 80% of companies were leveraging the cloud to support their needs. But what advantages does cloud computing in healthcare bring? Let’s find out.

Wait, What Is the Cloud?

Before we begin, let’s briefly cover what the cloud actually is. At its most fundamental level, the cloud is really just a metaphor for the Internet. Before, you could only access your applications and software had to be housed on a computer or server.

With the advent of the cloud, we can now access information and programs by using the Internet as a conduit. Basically, it all comes down to data storage. Instead of keeping critical work on computers and servers, you can now store data remotely by backing it up to the cloud.

cloud computing in healthcare

This essentially means you can access stored documents from any device at any time. This innovation has benefited companies of all sizes and transformed business as we know it. Today, millions of organizations leverage the benefits of hosted or cloud services to bring unprecedented value to their operations. And over the next five years, this paradigm shift is expected to pick up even more traction in the healthcare industry.

So, What Are the Advantages of Cloud Computing In Healthcare?

There are a few key drivers behind this accelerated adoption of the cloud. But you can almost always boil them down to the cost-effectiveness and benefits that cloud infrastructures offer. Let’s now take a look at the most common advantages of cloud computing.

Flexibility & Scalability

Whether it’s clinical quality initiatives, new technologies, competition, financial reform, or regulatory updates, it’s no secret that healthcare environments are everchanging. As a result, organizations are almost always rolling out (or removing) programs, refining operations, and introducing new staff to support their evolving needs.

But this just doesn’t work in the traditional self-hosted model. In this outdated way of doing things, facilities often find themselves trapped in an endless cycle of trying to keep up with hardware maintenance and purchases to support any changes.

cloud computing in healthcare

Compared to this, cloud-based services make companies much more adaptable in addressing new needs. In most cases, scaling an organization’s capacity up or down simply comes down to the push of a button. This flexibility is an unparalleled advantage when it comes to competition.

Cost

Cost is undoubtedly the biggest factor at play when deciding where to host your applications and data. Right now, it’s not uncommon for healthcare companies to dedicate as much as 75% of their IT budgets to the maintenance of internal systems.

Cloud computing cuts this down by doing away with the high costs associated with hardware expenditures. Companies usually just have to pay a subscription service based on their scale. This enables organizations to reallocate funds to other areas while still retaining a robust IT infrastructure.

cloud computing in healthcare

Clouds also allow companies to tap into the latest technologies on the market without the extravagant costs of hardware upgrades. While many companies with traditional models manage to get by with lower-quality hardware purchases, the advantage of utilizing more advanced tech is undeniable.

Security & Reliability

Two of the cloud’s strongest benefits it affords organizations are security and reliability. Ironically, security is one of the main reasons that executives feel uncomfortable utilizing the cloud; they don’t feel comfortable migrating their data to servers that feel outside their control. But this sentiment is usually the result of poor understanding about the cloud’s capabilities.

In fact, traditional models can actually be worse in this regard. Let’s say you have a computer that houses the protected health data of hundreds or thousands of patients. If this equipment is lost or stolen, this irreparable breach could cost an organization millions of dollars in terms of penalties. But if an organization was using the cloud, this computer could be remotely wiped to have no trace of the personal data of patients.

cloud computing in healthcare

Besides security, the cloud can also drastically improve system reliability in terms of data redundancy and uptime through automated backup and disaster recovery. In the event of a technology blackout or other disaster, the cloud can preserve any data that would be lost in a traditional model and provide various avenues to keep an organization functional. This certainly beats having to keep an inventory of costly backup hardware or wait for new equipment to arrive.

Continuity is key to consistent performance. And the cloud excels at it.

The Bottom Line

Each of these advantages acts as a different lever to help guide your decisions about what parts of your organization can be moved to the cloud and which can still be supported in-house.

Healthcare organizations from New York City to Seattle are moving to the cloud and experiencing unprecedented benefits. What are you waiting for?

If your company relies on the cloud, let us know about your experience with it in the comments!

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