How Cloud Computing Will Impact the Healthcare Industry

Introduction

The medical device industry and healthcare as a whole is rapidly evolving and finding new ways to improve patient care. One major contributor to the advancement of medical devices is cloud computing. Cloud computing put simply, is the action of storing and accessing data through the internet rather than the hard drive of a computer. The entire system is built on a subscription-based infrastructure that provides storage, databases, software, and networking. Through the cloud, medical devices can collect data wirelessly, while providing storage, computational capabilities, and sharing.

The director of Google Cloud Healthcare & Life Sciences, Amy Waldron, expressed how the cloud is providing great opportunities, "for secure collaboration, for scalability and more computation power". Currently, the healthcare industry is leading in the usage of cloud computing, and based on a West Monroe Partners report, in 2018, 35% of healthcare companies were housing more than 50% of data or infrastructure in the cloud. As cloud computing expands, it will allow for vast growth within the many facets of healthcare and medical device industries.

Increase in the Market Value

The global healthcare cloud computing market is set for rapid growth in the coming years. The market is expected to surpass $55 billion by 2025, which is a massive leap from the 2018 market value of $20 billion. With the cloud offering massive amounts of storage, the freedom for scaling data, and quicker access to medical records, the industry will see a demand for this technology.

According to Markets and Markets, here are potential trends and aspects of the Healthcare Cloud Computing Market:

  • The global healthcare cloud computing market size is projected to reach USD $51.9 billion by 2024 from USD 23.4 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 17.2%
  • Market growth is attributed to the increasing adoption of big data analytics, wearable devices, & IoT in healthcare and the advantages of cloud usage
  • North America accounted for the largest share of the healthcare cloud computing market in 2018

Cybersecurity

When it comes to software technology in the medical field, cybersecurity is a vital part of its development. This is all dependent on the provider and the quality of the team involved. Experts have noted that moving to the cloud is a more secure option. The reason being is that typically cloud solutions have large infrastructures that are generally updated with security measures. Cloud computing keeps data in one location, organized, and secure as possible. Microsoft’s Worldwide Health chief information security officer, Hector Rodriguez, noted that “these solutions, when properly integrated, should and do strengthen an enterprise's overall cybersecurity posture by adding additional layers of security and monitoring.”

More Storage at Lower Cost

When it comes to cloud computing resources, you only pay for what you use. This will significantly lower costs compared to purchasing hardware and servers just for storage capabilities. With typical on-site storage, health networks must pay up-front and then pay additional charges for hard drives and IT infrastructures. Cloud computing allows health care providers to focus more on patient care, while cloud providers “handle the administration, construction and maintenance of cloud data storage services.”

An important note is that patient data goes beyond electronic medical records. Medical device technology has provided individual consumers with the ability to track their data, through healthcare apps and health wearables. The cloud allows for immediate storage and scaling with a reduced cost.

Improved Medical Research

The healthcare industry feeds on knowledge and expansive research. Cloud computing offers an infinite amount of accessible information. The cloud provides healthcare professionals with immediate access to a patient’s data and medical history, allowing for ease even when new patients are involved. With all this accessible data, health networks can further their knowledge and understanding of symptoms and conditions. From here, medical professionals can narrow down treatment and medicine options. Cloud computing makes retrieving previous data fast and simple so questionable symptoms can then be compared to existing information.

Cloud-based data storage will ultimately open doors for big data applications. Previous data collection was difficult to sort through and properly analyze. Researchers used to request access to data on such a large scale through supercomputer centers. Now, cloud computing can easily be analyzed using complex computer algorithms, which will allow for the detection of potential public health threats. Leveraging this big data and analytics will prove beneficial for research purposes and can be done from healthcare provider devices.      

 Telemedicine and Remote Patient Care

One of the most significant advantages of cloud computing is the remote accessibility of data. We are living in a world where the delivery of healthcare is evolving while preserving the quality of patient care. Telemedicine is a growing practice driven by the need for more accessible healthcare. The practice itself involves caring for patients remotely when the patient and provider cannot be physically present with each other. Remote services date back to the 1950s, but the advancement of technology has reimagined this healthcare service. Today, we have video software, apps, and online portals. These all allow patients to understand treatment options, receive diagnoses, and even have health care providers monitor readings through medical devices.  

With this collection of remote data, cloud-based Telehealth systems are so important. The cloud provides the patient and healthcare provider with ease of access to this stored data and the simplicity of sharing important healthcare information. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has become so vital in caring for self-isolated patients. According to Kaiser Health News, health systems and providers have expressed that the outbreak of the virus has led to an increase of telemedicine that has never previously been observed, and “many hospitals have recently added telemedicine services to keep patients concerned about the coronavirus from clogging their emergency rooms.” It is clear that as telemedicine becomes a more prevalent service, cloud computing services will inevitably be in high demand.

Conclusion

Cloud computing is drastically reshaping the healthcare industry and bringing forth important advancements. Through this technology, we will begin to solve problems that previously could not be solved. Ultimately, it allows for greater collection and access to the data that healthcare professionals and patients rely on. These trends and improvements will also continue to shape medical devices. It is important to understand your options for cloud sources and cybersecurity when implementing cloud computing infrastructure on your medical device. Check out The CyberMed Cloud, a solution Promenade Software, Inc. has developed which provides a secure collection of data and the ability to run analytics from your device.    

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Chinyere Chambers

Chinyere is currently pursuing her graduate degree at Columbia University in Biotechnology. She comes with a strong scientific background in biology, dedicated to expanding her knowledge in the medical device field.

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