Why Cloud Based Data Solutions Are Vital For the Healthcare Industry
Over the past few years, a lot of attention has been focused on how the healthcare sector can harness the power of big data. In 2012, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation released a study concluded that big data can lead the industry to provide better treatment while pruning healthcare costs. The report also shed light on areas where big data could be successfully applied to improve healthcare. The study was focused on how to address what it called "America's most urgent public policy problem." John Wilbanks, Kauffman senior fellow and an author of the report, advocated for more transparency within the medical field to allow access to patient records. He said, “…combining larger datasets on drug response with genomic data on patients could steer therapies to the people they are most likely to help. This could substantially reduce the need for trial-and-error medicine, with all its discomforts, high costs and sometimes tragically wrong guesses.”
Fast forward to 2015 and stacks of electronic health data are growing at an astonishing rate, and while it’s hard to produce an exact number, this data is expected to grow from 500 petabytes in 2012 to 25,000 petabytes by 2020. Additionally, recent stats predict the global market for electronic health records will exceed $22 billion by the end of this year.
Traditional data management tools are incapable of storing, processing, and analyzing such massive, ever-growing data sets. It is no surprise that healthcare providers are shifting quickly towards big data analytics and cloud computing in a bid to improve patient information management.
As the need for storing and managing health data becomes critical, medical facilities across the world are embracing cloud data storage services to reduce costs and increase accessibility. This is also drawing attention to the ways in which medical professionals, healthcare providers, and staff can use the cloud to communicate critical real-time patient data and information faster.
Benefits of Cloud Based Data Solutions
The sharing of healthcare data between healthcare providers in different environments and across boundaries is an emerging challenge—something beyond the capacities of traditional information exchange procedures. Cloud based solutions are paving the way for better handling and sharing of patient data. There are key areas where the promises of cloud computing are most evident:
Data storage. Healthcare providers across the globe have access to reliable and efficient cloud data management systems which offer features like server and storage virtualization, data compression and de-duplication, and encryption and decryption. Cloud resources can also be leveraged as and when required. Use of cloud storage also helps in cost minimization (no hardware infrastructure or software licenses required), better data accessibility, and more efficient data recovery.
Collaboration. Cloud based healthcare solutions enable healthcare professionals to offer their services in remote areas via remote video teleconferencing, making use of mobile technology and enhancing information delivery.
Telemedicine. Telemedicine has gone beyond remote videoconferences between doctors and patients. It now includes tele-surgeries, tele-consultation, and even the exchange of health related information and research. All of this is only possible with the help of mobile technology and advanced medical devices.
Clinical research. Several pharmacology departments have started using cloud based services to improve research and development of various medications. Cloud based solutions are also becoming part of the R&D department for clinical research projects. The present systems pharmacology departments use are unable to support the huge amount of data complex processes like DNA sequencing create. Commercial cloud services now offer pharma-specific solutions to aid research in a cost-effective manner.
Cloud Based Data Solutions—Some Challenges
At present the healthcare industry faces a lot of problems in storage and management of big data sets. Some existing challenges are:
Localized data. The present day EMR systems offer centralized data storage, and it becomes difficult to collect and share data between various other healthcare providers. Often, in critical cases and in emergencies, caregivers lose precious time navigating the systems.
Data sources and volume. An enormous amount of data is generated regularly thanks to smart clinical devices, digital information, and networked collaboration systems. For healthcare professionals and caregivers to truly use data collected from such disparate sources, it’s important to forsake the silo’ed approach and single-point solutions.
Security. Secure authentication is also a big challenge, as usually healthcare data needs to be accessed by numerous people. To prevent illegal access and restore data integrity, it is essential to integrate a flawless electronic identification and authentication system.
Cloud based data solutions eliminate most of these challenges by reducing cost, ensuring storage and security of data through enhanced security features, and by integrating single-point solutions. By embracing cloud computing, healthcare providers can glean better insights from available data to improve the level of treatment and care for their patients.