The Future of the Cloud in Healthcare

It seems like everything we do these days touches the cloud in some way. We connect to it from our computers, our mobile devices, and even smart technology like the thermostats in our homes. So it’s no surprise healthcare is getting on board. In 2016, 84 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed by HIMSS reported using cloud services. The cloud is playing an increasingly important role in the healthcare industry, especially as the digitization of healthcare requires more computing resources. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global adoption of cloud services in healthcare will triple between 2015 and 2020, growing from $3.73 billion to nearly $9.5 billion by 2020.

There are other reasons the cloud is more than just “nice to have” in healthcare too. Healthcare workers want to access information instantly from anywhere so they can work more efficiently.  Wearables and other connected devices are used by patients much more often. Patients also expect “always on” services like telemedicine from healthcare in the same way they access online retailers and financial institution services. They’ve also become more involved in managing their care, gravitating to the web for diagnostic information and treatment guidance. The need for the cloud in healthcare is growing for these reasons and more, and as barriers to cloud technology continue to decrease, cloud adoption will happen even more quickly.

The Cloud in Healthcare Today

Health systems are already using the cloud in multiple forms. Some have a private cloud, which uses the organization’s own data center architecture that is trusted to run legacy applications. Others use a third-party public cloud that’s housed entirely off-site for newer workloads that demand the flexibility to quickly scale resources up or down accordingly. Hybrid cloud, a combination of the two, is also quite common, allowing organizations to decide which applications and resources to park in the public cloud versus managing exclusively from their private clouds. These combinations allow for customized environments to handle diverse workload demands.

As organizations utilize these cloud environments, the agility and flexibility gained make it easier for people throughout the health system to get the information they need and do their jobs effectively.

Breaking Down Barriers to the Cloud

The biggest barrier to widespread cloud adoption has been security, and for obvious reasons. Healthcare providers deal with sensitive information that’s protected by HIPAA, so it’s incredibly important to them that the information stays private. The cloud wasn’t designed with the security needs of healthcare in mind, but cloud security has improved significantly in recent years. This has led more organizations to the cloud.

Another reason cloud adoption is growing in healthcare is that it’s growing in all industries. As connected devices become more and more common, everyone has to look to the cloud to handle all this data. Healthcare will face pressure to join in.

Additionally, cloud adoption matters in healthcare because it benefits the entire organization, not just departments that directly provide care. The cloud helps with operational efficiency, cost savings, and data storage, which benefit the bottom line. Healthcare organizations know their competitors are using the cloud to gain advantages too, and they don’t want to be left behind.

A Cloud Strategy to Support Your Organization

It’s clear cloud adoption in healthcare will continue, and likely quite quickly. Organizations need the computing power and ease of use the cloud provides. To make the most the cloud, health systems will also need smart cloud strategies that support their needs.

Here at Intel, we help healthcare organizations select public cloud providers and in-house data center technology that make sense for them. We provide cloud computing technology built into our latest generation Intel® Xeon® processors so businesses can get the performance and protection they need. We also help healthcare organizations optimize hybrid cloud environments when they want to combine their private cloud with public ones.

To learn more about how Intel is enabling the transformation of healthcare, visit our healthcare portal page. You can also keep up with the latest technology trends in health and life sciences on the IT Peer Network.

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Jennifer Esposito

About Jennifer Esposito

Jennifer believes that technology has the power to accelerate the transformation of healthcare and to improve health, quality of life, safety, and security worldwide. She works with companies, organizations, and governments around the world to help make this digital transformation real, today. With 20 years of experience, Jennifer brings deep healthcare, life sciences, and biotechnology industry expertise along with a foundation in information and communication technology, and a view that spans across multiple other industries. Jennifer has a graduate degree from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Dartmouth College, where she focused on Epidemiology and Biostatistics. During her time at GE Healthcare, she became a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and remains a full member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. Jennifer is the co-chair of the Global Health Security Agenda Private Sector Roundtable and sits on the boards of Digital Square and USA Healthcare Alliance. Follow her @Jennifer_Espo and @IntelHealth.