Healthcare and the cloud: A dynamic collaboration

When healthcare organizations adopt cloud storage and cloud-based solutions, it protects patients and clinicians, and advances patient-centered care across the industry.

Digital identity, data management, and cybersecurity are of paramount importance in healthcare, but they’re not always easy to plan for and implement. And there’s even more complication: healthcare providers have had to quickly adapt to keep pace with a rapidly evolving technical landscape, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. And in this case, necessity was the mother of invention (or at least adoption). Adoption of advancements in healthcare technology sped up and expanded at a rapid pace to overcome obstacles and serve patients in new ways. One reason that could happen? Quick adoption of the cloud.

Historically, healthcare organizations have had concerns about cloud adoption. And while some of these aren’t as serious as they first appear, others require careful planning to resolve. Ultimately, the benefits of moving to the cloud are so significant that many healthcare providers have chosen to take the leap – despite their reservations.

Why does healthcare need the cloud?

The cloud accelerates advancement by promoting storage, speed, and interoperability. Research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that using the cloud could lead to $100 billion to $170 billion worth of healthcare industry improvements by 2030.

This sort of prediction isn’t new – the tech world has been hyping the benefits of the cloud for decades. And due to the considerable tech needs of today’s healthcare providers, the cloud is essential, particularly when it comes to storage. The healthcare industry generates about 30% of the world’s data volume, with a compound annual growth rate of 36%. This exceeds the annual growth seen in the manufacturing, financial services, and media and entertainment industries.

The level of data storage and sharing made possible by the cloud opens doors to a multitude of opportunities for innovation and patient-centered care. The no-walls nature of the cloud makes telehealth, e-prescribing, and other forms of digital healthcare possible. With clinicians able to access data on mobile devices, care can be moved outside of the hospital and closer to the patient. Furthermore, the cloud can let patients actively take part in their treatment and prevention plans. Patient satisfaction, outcomes, and affordability improve across the board.

The cloud can also be a game changer when it comes to digital identity management. Obviously, it allows for greater scalability, which means security gets more advanced and easier to maintain. The cloud also makes it easier to get rid of that pesky need to remember and enter passwords for privileged accounts. Oh, and use of mobile devices? Easier, because the data can be accessed from anywhere.

When data management is simplified, data can be used towards its fullest potential. IT departments can move beyond infrastructure and basic maintenance and upgrade tasks to focus more on patient engagement initiatives and treatment innovation. With the cloud, data is not only protected, but can also be applied in ways that create more value for patients.

Three cloud concerns to cross off the list

Still on the fence about the cloud? You might be worried that:

  1. It’ll be too expensive
  2. It’ll put patient data and privacy at risk
  3. It’ll get in the way of timely and efficient healthcare

Let’s cross these off the list one by one.

First, cloud technology will decrease, not increase costs. Storing a rapidly growing trove of data is less expensive without physical, on-premises servers. IT manpower costs lessen and hardware and maintenance costs plummet when you upload data to a cloud server that is maintained and administered by a cloud provider.

Second, cloud storage is no riskier for patient data and privacy than on-premises servers. Adopting cloud storage may feel like a loss of control that leads to vulnerabilities, but, in most organizations, the biggest threat to security is human error or negligence, such as losing devices or sharing passwords. There are solutions to avoid these problems, and they’re needed no matter where you store your data.

The burden on IT departments lightens with cloud storage, as resources can be scaled up or down according to shifting needs, and updates to cloud applications can be done without interrupting workflows. Plus, cloud service providers can host in different geographical locations while addressing regional data protection requirements and concerns.

Third, rather than impede efficiency, cloud computing supports workflow efficiency with a range of advantages. Having a single, simple access point for data saves time that can be better spent on patients – and it makes data available any time and anywhere (but still only to those who have been provisioned with appropriate access). With less physical paperwork, efficiency improves, and patient privacy is protected. Exchanging data securely becomes fast and easy.

Those who’ve already adopted the cloud know this to be true: it actually enhances security and workflow efficiency, not hinders. Maintenance and other basic tasks become less cumbersome for IT departments, so they’re freed up to focus on critical and innovative projects. Both security and efficiency are achieved, ensuring seamless operations. Big picture, that means everyone – patients, admin staff, and clinicians – benefits from convenience and time saved.

Preparing for the cloud

The cloud is a necessary tool for most industries in 2023, including healthcare. But like any technology, there are best practices to follow to protect your organization and stakeholders. Cloud adoption underscores the need for a comprehensive digital identity platform, particularly if you continue to support a hybrid environment, with some systems in the cloud and some staying on-premises – not to mention the various devices and locations included in the complex ecosystems of today’s healthcare environment.

A comprehensive, identity-centered, Zero Trust strategy provides protection that complements productivity. For example, identity governance solutions automate role-based access to bolster security while streamlining audits and saving time, while multifactor authentication for remote access, cloud apps, and more, verifies identities without impeding workflows. Whether you’re safeguarding hardware, software, or personal health information, a digital identity platform can ensure both protection and ease.

It’s time for the cloud

Patient data holds the key to identifying trends, diagnosing conditions, and advancing treatment on both a micro and a macro level. Cloud solutions are fundamental for stretching beyond mere data protection into insightful, integrated, patient-centered healthcare – while still ensuring the security of your organization.

Teaming up healthcare and the cloud goes way beyond storage solutions to offer new and better opportunities to serve patients. The best part? The payoff isn’t contained at a single provider location, but spreads across multiple healthcare settings for a comprehensive health and wellness experience.

Learn more about cloud security and monitoring cloud-based applications with our Cloud Visibility Report.