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Cloud solutions for healthcare: advantages and disadvantages

Cloud technologies are becoming more and more popular in various spheres of life and many industries. In recent years, cloud-based medical information systems have experienced a splash of attention. According to experts, the industry of cloud solutions for healthcare can grow by more than $25 billion in the coming years.

Cloud computing in healthcare

In healthcare, you have always had to work with large amounts of data, and until recently, it was stored in paper archives. This approach brought a lot of inconvenience to both doctors and patients. Finding the necessary documents often took time, and their storage required additional space. In addition, there was no information connection between various medical institutions, which did not allow the transfer of data directly.

The large volumes of data that medicine has always worked with are now becoming huge. This includes not only case information, but also a collection of generalized clinical and research data in various fields of medicine and new medical knowledge that is expanding exponentially:

  • Its doubling time was about 50 years ago in 1950.
  • It accelerated to 7 years in 1980.
  • It was 3.5 years in 2010 and 73 days in 2020.

All this has led to the need to introduce new technologies in the medical industry. However, new difficulties arose with the beginning of the digitization of all data. It turned out that the data also requires many storage resources. Using your own server hardware turned out to be too costly and highly inconvenient. In addition, there was again the problem of digital communication between various clinics and hospitals.

The development of cloud technologies made it possible to solve many problems and create effective and convenient cloud computing for healthcare industry.

Benefits of cloud computing in healthcare

Single profile for each patient

One of the most critical trends in the development of the cloud for healthcare systems has been the creation of a single digital profile for each patient. The cloud made it possible to set up regular data exchange between all kinds of medical institutions, regulators, as well as insurance companies, clinics, and even patients. Most countries of the world, such USA, Germany, other European nations, as well as Israel, UAE, and other countries in the Middle East have already launched their own projects to create a single space for data exchange between private and public clinics.

Automatic scaling

Cloud solutions in healthcare have allowed clinics and laboratories to adapt their own infrastructure to current workloads.

Due to the pandemic, many medical institutions have faced increased laboratory workloads in recent years. The coronavirus tests in some clinics reached dozens of thousands per day, and the need for CT scans of the lungs and various studies to determine complications for COVID-19 also increased. All this could not but affect the IT infrastructure of clinics.

And, as the practice has shown, institutions that have already used cloud technologies have coped with new needs much better. The fact is that the cloud allows you to perform almost instant scaling of the system and, in some cases, to make this process automatic. Under conditions of unpredictable workload, cloud technologies allowed us to avoid failures and keep tasks running smoothly.

Improving the quality of surveys

If we talk about the cloud in healthcare, we must mention the benefits of diagnosing various diseases. The introduction of new technologies has made it possible to create new approaches in the field of surveys.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, the doctor can use more hypotheses. AI can diagnose diseases by collecting, analyzing, and systematizing patient data and comparing anamnesis with examination results. This also contributes to the development of evidence-based medicine, which integrates experiences and the best available scientific information.

The positive impact of AI and cloud technologies has been noted in radiology. New technologies help doctors correctly and quickly read X-ray images and perform their virtualization. Many companies in the field of software development of medical programs are already moving to the cloud, which allows accelerating the integration of systems in clinics. As a result, even institutions in remote areas could access databases and join a single standard for diagnosing diseases.

Effective communication with patients

Today, many patients actively use new technologies, including various mobile tools, applications, and programs. Therefore, medical centers and hospitals are increasingly looking for new communication channels.

One of the results of the development of cloud medical infrastructure was the introduction of chatbots and automated call centers.

Modern patients actively use mobile instruments. This allows medical centers, hospitals, and other organizations to look for new communication channels. In the healthcare sector, they began to use tools for automating call centers and introducing chatbots.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is the consultations with doctors by e-mail, instant messengers, and video calls — in any way other than a personal meeting. Video communication is considered the most effective method of telemedicine since the doctor can conduct a visual examination and not rely solely on the patient’s words. Telemedicine makes it possible to receive treatment from a doctor from another country or get a second opinion, which will help reduce the risk of medical error. In addition, by contacting a doctor online, a person avoids the need to sit in queues or spend time and money traveling to get to an appointment on time.

Disadvantages of cloud computing in healthcare

The disadvantages of cloud servers are:

  • the need for a permanent connection to the Internet. In settlements remote from information and communication centers, the likelihood of technical and technological problems accessing the Internet can be significant. On the other hand, with the development of 4G, 5G technologies, satellite, and mobile transport media, this disadvantage will be practically eliminated in the future;
  • limited software scaling. Many cloud services provide a minimal set of tools for setting up a serviced workspace. Accordingly, the user often cannot optimally configure his workspace;
  • the inaccessibility of introducing these technologies to small companies due to the high cost of software and hardware “clouds.”

The concept of the cloud computing model is often viewed in two ways. Some see it as a security risk and new “threat vectors,” but at the same time, this system has unique opportunities to improve security. Improved infrastructure visibility, automation, and standardization all improve information security. For example, suppose we use a predefined set of сloud interfaces in parallel with centralized identity management and an access control policy. In that case, we reduce the risk of clients accessing unwanted resources by order of magnitude. Such security measures as the execution of computing services in isolated domains, and the use of encryption for data, significantly increase the safety of information, reducing its loss. It is worth adding that automatic initialization and recovery of executable images will reduce the space for attacks, allowing you to solve some legal aspects.

Wrapping up

Cloud technologies in healthcare still have a long way to go. Combining such computing with artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies is necessary. Improvements are also needed in the field of data analytics.

However, even now, we can say that cloud solutions improve the efficiency of medical services and open up new opportunities for their optimization and development. New technologies increase the availability of services for patients and, at the same time, reduce the costs of medical institutions.

As you can see, the topic of cloud technologies in healthcare is quite exciting. If you have any questions about healthcare and cloud computing, our experts will gladly answer them.

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