How cloud computing changes the health care industry?
Posted by on 10.03.2014 18:55
In medicine and health care cloud computing solutions are just starting, but everything indicates that in the next 3-5 years its market share will increase tremendously. Investing in cloud eliminates the need to incur one-time expenditure for the purchase of equipment, network infrastructure and security systems. Savings for the implementation of the EDM can reach up to 35% of the total cost. Let us consider what is so magical about the cloud and why it may be revolution in the Polish health care.
IT security in the range of high availability
Medical facilities, from the smallest clinic to huge multi-profile hospitals, must function without downtime. In this sense, the future and present applications to run our electronic medical records (EDM ) must operate without major failure. And even if that happens, it should be short, regardless of the time of day.
In IT the reliability of the solution is measured by the IT solution availability measure. So in the medical solutions, we are talking about high availability and this is the cost, usually a human cost. Because in order to ensure trouble-free operation, aside from the quality of the technology, it is necessary to employ an army of administrators who have to work in shifts, providing support in 24-hour mode. Is it possible to reduce the cost? For sure. Unfortunately, in Poland it often means increased risk - specialists leave the facility just after 5:00 PM and all that remains is the belief that nothing will happen.
Cloud service providers have an absolute advantage here. Construction of the cloud assures far-reaching redundancy. Not only in terms of hardware solutions of the highest quality, but also through service automation of virtualization platforms failure. In their SLA contracts (Service Level Agreement - agreement established between client and the service provider to maintain and systematically improve the service quality level) cloud providers are able to declare the availability of systems at 99.5% and higher. These numbers, of course, makes a qualified team of specialists with many years of experience in system administration.
IT security in the range of data protection
Many people doubt in the safety of the clouds, forgetting that the safety of their own local IT solutions can be easily compromised. Fairly common practice in smaller clinics is storage of EDM on the server, which literally stands under a desk in the registration or room seemingly physically secured. Let us have no illusions - burglary in the service points are not a rarity.
In the cloud, from the appropriate IaaS provider (Infrastructure as a Service), stealing of data is much more difficult. In addition, the IaaS providers, in order to stay in business, take care of constantly improving safety standards in accordance with their market development.
Innovation and development
Medical institutions and medical practitioners focus on the quality of medical services. It is difficult to expect that they will explore technological innovations in the field of computer science. Even if the hospital or clinic employs IT specialists, usually they are completely absorbed in the current work, supporting medical staff. There is no much time for development and innovations.
But the cloud by definition cares about coping with pace of change and innovation in the IT market! IaaS cloud providers in their contracts often provide software updates as soon as they appear on the market. We can even compare it to kind of arms race, because the quality of the clouds depends on their long-term success.
Another important argument is the price. In addition to improving the quality, cloud operators must take care of the discount prices. This means that the cost of the infrastructure in the cloud become cheaper faster than the equipment purchased for the facility. It is even said that, thanks to the cloud, operating expenses (OPEX) displace investment costs (CAPEX).
Basically, most mobile applications are using some kind of cloud somewhere in the background. As a result, applications (also for the health services) will appear on all your devices, all of which we use every day. In fact, you can see it already. So let's see the first examples - the EWUŚ application mobile client produced for the needs of patients settled in the NFZ. This is the key evidence that cloud solutions will change our daily lives also in the domain of health care.
Direction: integration and open standards
Cloud will force to go beyond closed systems in institution. On this occasion it is worth noting that the Medical Information System built under the P1 project (a part of which is the Patient Internet Account and exchange mechanisms: e-prescriptions, e-referrals, e-ordering and e-exemptions) or created by the NFZ system ZIP (Integrated Patient Information) is nothing but only solutions available in the cloud.
For what else is publicly available web services and web portals system enabling online communication with external software (eg. EDM systems in medical institutions). Such a cloud solutions are also portals connecting patients and doctors, for example Mediporta (running in Oktawave cloud).