Healthcare’s future lies in Cloud Computing

Roberto García Esteban    17 febrero, 2022

Healthcare is a sector that is continuously generating a large amount of data. To put it in numbers, every year our National Health System manages 234 million medical consultations in primary care, 83 million hospital consultations, 23 million emergencies and 4 million hospital admissions… data and more data that should be stored, processed and analysed with two main objectives: on the one hand, to build the medical history of each patient to provide a better service and on the other, to facilitate public health decisions of great importance, adding (and of course, anonymising) all the data. In these times of pandemic that we are unfortunately still living through, this need has become very clear.

Health data have several particularities and there are therefore certain challenges specific to them that need to be solved. Firstly, they are generated continuously (people go to the doctor every day) and come from many different sources, from hospitals to the users themselves, who are increasingly connected and have advanced devices that allow them to provide a lot of relevant information. As a result, one of the main challenges is to implement scalable solutions to manage this BigData, which is why Cloud Computing seems to be the only viable option.

Another major challenge is that health data can have many recipients: researchers, doctors, patients… and not everyone needs the same data presented in the same way. They must also always be available to healthcare professionals, who may need to make use of them at any time of the 365 days of the year. The aim is to achieve personalised and predictive medicine, which is impossible to achieve without the management and processing of all the data provided by cloud technology.

Another problem to be solved is the interoperability of systems. If a person suffers a medical emergency outside their area of residence, it is essential to make their medical data available to the person attending them wherever they are. Cloud technology makes it easier for patient data to be integrated into common platforms accessible to any healthcare professional.

Given the particular sensitivity of healthcare data, security is crucial. There may be doubts about whether to use the public cloud or a private cloud, because of the security concerns that may exist with respect to the public cloud. However, nowadays the big players in the public cloud market have such secure solutions that security should not really be an issue.

The current situation is that despite all the advantages of the cloud, its adoption is still far from common in the healthcare sector. According to the report by the consultancy firm Quint Current state and future of the cloud in the healthcare sector, the main barriers holding back the adoption of Cloud Computing in this sector are regulatory compliance, cultural limitations of the business, hidden costs and the amortisation of on-premises infrastructure. These last two barriers are particularly significant in the healthcare sector compared to other sectors.

In conclusion, healthcare organisations face significant change in the coming years. According to the aforementioned Quint report, 43% of healthcare organisations plan to increase their IaaS and PaaS budgets by more than 20% in the next twelve months, while 14% will increase their SaaS budgets in that period, a lower percentage given that SaaS is already widespread in the healthcare sector, accounting for more than 25% of all IT spending for almost a third of organisations. Over the next few years, therefore, healthcare organisations will move from using the cloud basically just to store data to using the technology to analyse data, reduce costs and improve patient care. The cloud is not a passing trend, not in this sector either, but is here to stay and to transform business processes, despite the very special characteristics of healthcare data that have so far slowed cloud adoption in this

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