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Clinical Applications, IoT Drive Growth of Healthcare Cloud

Healthcare cloud is expanding as organizations move clinician applications, IoT data, data storage to a more flexible and scalable environment.

healthcare cloud

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The healthcare cloud computing market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18 percent through 2023, according the a new Markets and Markets report.

The predicted growth includes applications such as EHRs, picture archive communication systems (PACS), and vendor neutral archives (VNAs), as well as services like software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Deployments like public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud are also included.

“The key factors driving the growth of this market include increasing adoption of big data, wearable devices, and IoT in healthcare; advantages of cloud usage (such as improved storage, flexibility, and scalability of data); implementation of healthcare reforms such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and the dynamic nature of health benefit plan design,” said report authors.

Clinicians use both clinical and non-clinical applications in the healthcare space, but clinical applications such as EHRs are expected to account for the largest shared of healthcare cloud market growth. The growth of clinical applications is due to the rise on chronic disease and an aging population. The growing number of these kinds of patients leads to an increased volume of patient data, says the report.

Organizations are beginning to see the benefits of hosting EHR applications in the cloud instead of hosting them locally. The flexibility the cloud offers can more easily accommodate the increasing amount of data produced by patients.

The growing amount of data also prompts healthcare organizations to seek out the cloud for big data analytics, wearables, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

“Healthcare providers generate and collect a large amount of data from a vast array of internal source,” report authors explained. “The volume of this digital data is growing exponentially every year majorly due to the changes in the payer environment, such as incentives for the meaningful use of EHRs and a shift towards value-based payments. Moreover, technological changes are also resulting in the generation of a larger volume of healthcare data. For instance, patients are increasingly employing mobile digital devices, including activity monitors and chronic disease monitoring products.”

The IoT assists healthcare organizations by improving operational efficiency. Medical equipment connected to IoT communicates with staff when maintenance is required before it malfunctions.

Medical device communication saves organizations time on lengthy repairs by communicating when preventative maintenance measures need to be taken, saving organizations money by extending the life of expensive medical equipment.

IoT devices are responsible for collecting a significant amount of healthcare data for big data analytics. Hosting this data in the cloud gives healthcare organizations the opportunity to take advantage of better flexibility and scalability.

Cloud also cuts back on overall costs of data storage. Hosting data off-site can cut back on physical space which can be used to house more patients. It also cuts back on the resources such as the power it takes to power and cool servers on-premises.

Organizations also don’t need to maintain in-house staff to manage on-premises servers. Servers are managed and maintained off-site by the cloud service provider.

“Through cloud computing, healthcare organizations can almost instantaneously scale up or scale down their IT infrastructure (which includes processing power, storage, networking, and the number of users) and adjust it with consumption,” said the report. “This avoids costly upgrades, reduces waiting times, and eliminates capacity constraints. Owing to this on-demand scalability, healthcare organizations do not need to plan for future IT infrastructure needs. As a result of these functionalities, the demand for cloud computing is increasing among healthcare organizations.”

Considering the cloud for a more flexible health IT infrastructure can help organizations expand their environment and scale up as needed. Clinicians and patients are depending more on digital health tools and making sure the infrastructure can support them is key modernizing patient care.

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