Across life sciences and health care (LSHC), cloud adoption is rising as organizations accelerate their business and digital transformation efforts.
Some seek the traditional benefits that the cloud offers – scalability, flexibility, the ability to optimize costs, and access to the latest technology. However, many organizations have realized that the bigger potential of the cloud may lie in creating seamless consumer-centric experiences for patients and customers and in building workflows that drive better outcomes while fostering greater collaboration.
What’s in the cloud for LSHC organizations?
Although each LSHC organization has its own goals for the cloud, key workloads across the LSHC sector are commonly being moved there. Typically, moving these workloads can help improve operational efficiency and optimize IT costs, which can ultimately help enhance the patient experience. They include:
Electronic health records (EHRs): EHRs are used for managing patient data. Moving them to the cloud can help providers centralize data and allow real-time access.
Medical imaging: Moving storage-intense imaging workflows such as X-rays and CT scans to the cloud can offer a cost-effective storage option and improve accessibility.
Telemedicine: Cloud-based solutions can provide secure video conferencing and other tools to facilitate improved workflows and remote consultations with patients.
Patient monitoring: Cloud-based patient monitoring can provide real-time data and enable remote monitoring of patients in their homes. The cloud also can drive similar monitoring benefits for research and clinical trials.
Claims processing: Cloud-based claims processing can improve the accuracy and speed of claims processing, which can improve the overall efficiency of providers and organizations. Process automation can also help reduce administrative errors.
Revenue cycle management: Cloud-based revenue-cycle management can help providers manage billing and payments more effectively, which can improve cash flow and reduce administrative costs.
Fostering collaboration to enhance the patient experience
Migrating workloads to the cloud – in particular, utilizing tailored industry cloud solutions that address heart-of-the-business issues and foster the convergence of technology with industry-specific data and personalization to speed transformation – often leads to increased collaboration among business areas. This improved collaboration helps LSHC organizations identify internal challenges, build consensus for ambitious initiatives, and unlock additional value from shared resources and systems.
[ Also read 5 ways to optimize your journey to the cloud. ]
For example, chief medical officers, CFOs, CIOs, chief digital officers, chief procurement officers, and chief regulatory officers all increasingly find themselves in discussions that cover the cloud and the future of the patient experience. This reflects the fact that providing a seamless experience for patients requires cooperation from multiple business areas throughout the organization, which compels those areas to understand each other’s workflows.
However, after years of IT sprawl and operating in relative isolation, operational systems and departments are often siloed. The cloud can break down these silos because it provides universal access to information that can encourage collaboration and information-sharing and ultimately enhance the patient experience.
Overcoming the most pressing cloud challenges
Although most LSHC organizations recognize the potential value of the cloud, they’re also realistic enough to understand that significant cultural and technical challenges come with cloud adoption. The challenges are also often exacerbated by concerns about sunk costs in existing EHR systems and other on-premises solutions. These obstacles can be overcome with the right combination of planning, technology, and execution.
Security is paramount
Data security, resiliency, and privacy are critical issues. Healthcare providers need to ensure that patient data is protected and in compliance with regulatory requirements, which demands careful design and implementation of EHRs and other systems that contain patient data. It also requires constant monitoring to ensure security and compliance. Cloud solutions – whether hyperscaler platforms, data warehouses, or specific apps – must align with those needs.
To address this, providers should ensure that their cloud solutions are based on a framework of trust and resilience. They need a secure and compliant platform for managing patient data in the cloud that meets HIPAA and other regulatory requirements and that includes customizable features, and standard encryption, access controls, and audit logs.
The cloud environment must also be designed to support the digital resilience of systems that support critical business functions. In short, for providers to feel comfortable with scaling cloud systems, they need to find the right system for their unique needs, which likely means leaning on an industry-specific product or group of products.
Integration is pivotal
Integration is another crucial concern, and it’s pivotal for getting more value from cloud and existing investments in EHR systems as well as securing better outcomes for patients. By connecting and eventually migrating EHR solutions to the cloud, LSHC organizations can run new cloud-native tools alongside their EHR solution, which can enhance workflows with capabilities like new dashboards for deeper insights, AI for process automation and alerts, chatbots for customer service, and more.
However, leaders may worry that during cloud migration, some essential data and processes could fall through the cracks – or that they may create new silos as workloads move. As a result, they may want to keep some systems, such as their EHR system, on-premises, which could hamper the adoption of digital innovations as they emerge and delay the delivery of outcomes that patients need, and providers expect.
But the reality is that cloud ecosystems today are based on sophisticated APIs and cloud services that make integration more efficient and seamless than ever. Consider collaborating with frontline industry users and their IT counterparts to create APIs that work with existing systems and that provide a range of prebuilt integrations for common systems such as EHRs and medical imaging systems.
Unleashing the power of the cloud
The future of the cloud in health care continues to evolve. But we continue to see two constants that will remain in focus across the industry: elevating outcomes and increasing collaboration.
By keeping the emphasis on securing better patient outcomes, healthcare providers can help individuals live healthier and more productive lives. And they do something similar when they collaborate around the cloud – they help their own organizations become healthier and more productive through stronger internal communities working together to unleash the power of the cloud.
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