Healthcare is an industry like any other in so far as it requires ever increasing IT power in order to operate efficiently. As patient numbers grow and the amount of data generated by them increases, organisations in this sector are increasingly turning to cloud computing in order to tackle emerging issues and stay on budget.
There are, of course, those who would argue that the cloud is not going to completely revolutionise healthcare in the way that its advocates claim. However, it is difficult to argue with the figures that are predicted by various analysts in relation to how much cloud usage and spending will grow over the coming five years.
MarketsandMarkets recently published a report on cloud computing, which stated that by 2017 the global value of the cloud market in the healthcare industry alone will exceed $5.4 billion (about £3.4 billion).
The authors identify a number of ways in which the cloud will be implemented in a healthcare setting, taking into account the infrastructures that it will facilitate and the type of pricing structure that it is likely to follow as it becomes more prevalent.
From the point of view of using the cloud to run software applications as a service, the report shows that there will be two distinct types of platform employed by healthcare organisations in this respect.
First, clinical information systems (CIS) will be rolled out in order to aid those who are trained to administer aid to patients, allowing doctors, nurses and other front-line staff to better do their jobs. This could mean giving workers better access to patient information or healthcare data so that they can perform more effectively whether they are posted in a hospital or out in the field carrying out home visits.
The second category consists of non-clinical information systems (NCIS) and will deal with the platforms that are required to handle most of the administrative tasks, which can range from payroll management to billing, depending on the type of institution in which they are used as well as the particular provisions of the state in regard to healthcare.
The report unsurprisingly identifies that healthcare organisations have been reluctant to adopt a cloud platform that is solely based on public services, because the protection of patient privacy is a paramount concern and handing over the reins to a third party is less than desirable.
Instead, most are choosing to integrate private or hybrid cloud set-ups that allow for a greater deal of self-determination when it comes to hardware, software and information security.
What is appealing to healthcare organisations is the fact that cloud computing allows them to procure software, hardware and IT infrastructures on a pay-per-use basis rather than one that requires total commitment and investment and may not be anywhere near as scalable.
Groups are able to buy access to cloud services on demand and pay as they go, or alternatively commit to a fixed-term contract which gives them a steady price over a predetermined period, often with the option to renew or change providers at the end of the term.
Since the cloud has made many IT services a utility like electricity or water, it means that healthcare organisations are in a better position to make sure that they are only paying for what they use, thus giving them greater control over their budgets and avoiding unwanted expenses.
While cloud penetration among healthcare organisations reached only 4% in 2012, most believe that this will increase dramatically in the coming years as more and more managers begin to see the benefits of migrating their very own groups to the cloud.
This article was written by Daisy Group plc who are leading are a specialised communication company providing robust and secure business solutions including flexible & mobile working, cloud computing and datacentre solutions to small medium and corporate business across the UK.