Hospitals or Healthcare is the domain where the quantity of data is endless. And it will just grow and grow. All they need is to maintain that huge amount of data. So, the solution to it is Cloud computing. Yes, it is one flexible solution that enables hospitals to leverage a network of remotely accessible servers where they can store large volumes of data in a secure environment and that too maintained by IT professionals.
Almost all healthcare organizations across the United States have adopted cloud computing solutions as a means of storing and protecting patient EMRs since the introduction of the EMR mandate. Hence, we can say, cloud technology is changing the healthcare system and healthcare informatics, and obviously in a good manner, as it is offering so many advantages of it already.
So, let’s learn all of its advantages. But before that, let’s learn what the hospital information system is and also what we mean by cloud.
What is Hospital Information System?
Since digitization entered healthcare
, even the hospital information system has become an integral part of the domain. The system is linked to the health informatics that focuses mainly on the administrative functioning of clinics/nursing homes as well as hospitals. There are several different implementations of it in the healthcare industry, and it is an integrated and comprehensive information system designed to deliver every administrative operation.
It has been done in recent years only when Hospital information systems have been converted into digitized systems involving computers, while the traditional paperwork and file cabinets are going backstage.
Some of the steps, like data input, outputs, processing, and boundary, are included in a computerized health information system. As a process, the computer system receives the health data, which then gets processed to finally produce the specified outputs, and to influence the outputs, there are predefined boundaries.
Besides that, the aspect of processing involves memory functions as well as monitoring. And, that’s not it because the digitized health informatics system is associated with the idea of a wide range of aspects.
For instance, medical professionals, healthcare organizations, and mortuary are part of the health system. Still, must say that all such systems include a clearly defined boundary. For example, the grocery shop cannot be a part of the healthcare system, and we all already know that.
There are several benefits of effective HIS, such as:
I. It improves information integrity
II. It decreases transcription errors
III. It lessens duplication of information entries
IV. It optimizes report turnaround times
What is Cloud?
Do you understand the term cloud? For those who might not know, it is a metaphor for the internet. With the entry of Cloud, gone are the days when all of your applications and software were on a computer or some specific server that you could only access at a specific location.
Yes, because now people could access their programs and information using the internet as the conduit just with the introduction of the cloud. And, the same principle applies to data storage. So, from now on, data can be stored remotely and backed up to the cloud rather than keeping folders full of critical work on your computers and servers.
This is no less than an advantage in healthcare, especially. Yes, because this is the domain where the ability to store documents in a place where you can access them from any device at any time is compelling.
No wonder that to add value to the operations, millions of companies around the world now use hosted or cloud services, and the expectation is that this shift will only continue to accelerate in the healthcare industry over the upcoming years.
Why are Healthcare Organizations Moving to the Cloud?
The adoption of cloud technology has been increasing at a frenetic pace and that too in all domains. However, there are still quite a few drivers for this change, but much of it comes down to the benefits of cloud infrastructure and simple analysis of the costs.
Must say, cloud computing solutions can frequently provide better levels of service as compared to their internal IT efforts for behavioral healthcare organizations. Maybe some part of this has to do with scale, but much of it is the investment in personnel, technology, rigid processes, and expertise that cloud providers can bring to healthcare IT.
Benefits of Having Your Hospital Information System on Cloud
1. Security and Reliability
Well, both Security & Reliability are two features that are most needed. And, fortunately, these are two of the cloud’s strongest features. Yes, and we can say this is one of the most important reasons executives do not feel uncomfortable moving their data and applications to servers outside of “their control.” However, there are times when people do not completely understand the concept of how the cloud works.
To understand well, let’s take an example. Just suppose that a healthcare provider is utilizing a computer that happens to have protected health information on it, so the loss of that machine could cost a company a penalty of like millions of dollars. Now, if that same organization was utilizing the cloud, the lost computer could be remotely wiped if lost or act as a “dumb terminal” that can’t save data that doesn’t belong on it.
In 2013, the CIA made a $600 million purchase into cloud technology to begin their shift into this new approach to further illustrate the potential of security within the cloud. As the CIA’s Chief Information Security Officer was passionate about the advantages of cloud computing, she made this decision. Plus, she also believes in the ability of the cloud to keep systems secure through both consistent system maintenance and physical security measures.
The cloud also can increase the reliability of data redundancy and system uptime along with the element of security. And undoubtedly, it does this through the automation of backups and disaster recovery options. In simple words, it depicts that an organization will not lose data and will have the ability to minimize any downtime for their staff.
Therefore, the cloud option can provide multiple avenues to keep an organization up and running with almost no cutover time, especially in the case of a disaster or technology breakdown. Yes, there was a time when agencies would have to wait for new equipment to be shipped or to rely on keeping an inventory of expensive backup hardware. So, IT departments can maintain almost seamless continuity in service provision with the cloud.
We all know that the environment in which healthcare organizations work is ever-changing. Yes, there are a lot of external pressures, whether it is regulatory enhancements, competition, financing reform, or clinical quality initiatives.
Besides all that, organizations are also continually introducing (or removing) locations, programs, and staff to support their models of care. Organizations are forced into the cycle of trying to keep up with hardware maintenance and purchases to support these changes in a conventional self-hosted model.
On the other hand, Cloud-based services enable companies to address fluctuating demands. It is easy to scale up the organization’s capacity with what amounts to the push of a button, especially when a need arises.
Similarly, if there is a requirement to scale down, there is flexibility within a cloud model to do so. So, flexibility can be a real competitive advantage when every second lost affects patient safety and budget.
As far as effective patient care is concerned, data accessibility is of paramount importance, especially in this age of evidence-based medicine. And, for data to be accessed from any location or any device, Cloud-based HIS makes it very easy.
Plus, it does not require to be accessed through any particular terminal within the hospital since it is a wire-free technology, so the data can be accessed via proper logins through PCs, tablets, and laptops located anywhere.
Therefore, it can also offer work from home or clinic options to the clinicians, which no doubt speed up the whole process of clinical decisions, leading to quality patient care.
In deciding where to host your applications and data, Cost is always an essential factor. And currently, companies related to the healthcare domain spend upwards of 75% of their IT budgets to maintain internal systems. There are significant differences in the cost models, as it is not always an apples-to-apples dollar comparison.
So, this is one Cloud computing cuts the capital expenditures and also the high cost of hardware. A company pays for a subscription service with the cloud that becomes an operating expense based on their scale. For diverting funds into other operational areas, it also allows organizations that would have previously been used to create a robust IT infrastructure (which in several cases is underused).
Apart from all, companies can utilize the latest technology on the market, with the cloud. In the previous timings, this would have been outside of many budgets. Well, this is one of the reasons a direct cost comparison is challenging.
The ability to leverage more advanced technology for strategic initiatives from cloud service providers can help to level the playing field with their competition while organizations may be able to get by with lower quality hardware purchases.
5. Reduced IT Requirements
Whenever you see that all the servers are off-site and all the costs associated with the hardware installation and the associated maintenance are nullified, this means it is a Cloud-based HIS. Along with making it easier to add users, units, departments, services, etc. to the master log, it also eases the accessibility associated with Cloud-based HIS.
So, in simple terms, one who has the login with administrator rights can do it easily, and they don’t have to go hunting the in-house IT team and anyone. Besides that, it also successfully saves on additional staff costs spent on maintaining a big IT team to maintain the server, add/edit the master logs, etc.
Cloud network ease transferring the data between the clients who use the same cloud network. In healthcare, there are several cases where clients need to share medical information, so this would be a huge advantage. Allowing for quicker collaboration, the data can be shared with anybody who needs to see it to provide healthcare solutions to patients.
7. Staggered Investments
One of the greatest advantages Cloud-based HIS offers is it gives the hospital management the option of not buying a large server at the onset and blocking up capital. Besides that, it also takes away the risk of projecting the growth of the company correctly and buying a server that will be able to handle the data and operations load of that growth.
As we already mentioned above, the server space can be hired as and when the growth happens, which is what we call Cloud-based HIS. And, as its best part, there is no such prior commitment as well as no blocked investment. One only needs to invest in server space when the need arises, and that too only as an added amount in the form of monthly utility fees.
8. AI and Machine Learning
As healthcare providers always have a huge amount of data, and they have to deal with it, it takes up a lot of time to manage that time which could be spent with patients.
So, from now on, healthcare providers help alleviate some of that burden, via more cloud platforms integrating AI and machine learning into their services. Yes, to analyze and respond to the enormous quantity of unstructured data they utilize, they can use these systems. And why not? It is one of the Healthcare Tech Trends to watch out in the upcoming years
9. Integrated and Efficient Patient Care
Earlier, to share information about patients between practices, doctors relied upon faxed or mailed paper charts. And, now allowing multiple doctors to view lab results or consult notes about patients simultaneously, Cloud technology offers a single access point to patient information.
Also, the transfer of this information instantly occurs since collaborations happen with just a single click. In this way, doctors can spend more time on patient care and treatment options rather than just waiting for patient reports. And, as a result, technologies are transforming the healthcare experience and helping improve the patient experience for now and years to come
May be Cloud technology is not a perfect solution in the healthcare system to manage patient care and data, yet this technology and healthcare mobile apps
offer patients and doctors access to information that can improve patient care.
Besides that, the cloud also offers a great opportunity to use patient data on a healthcare informatics scale to make conclusions about public health and also enables users to efficiently and quickly manage personal information.
Maybe hurdles exist while implementing the new technology and the threat of data breaches, but with the right framework and with the proper education, healthcare systems can take benefits of this rapidly growing and useful technology.