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 for two main purposes:
- Build the medical history of each patient to provide a better service.
- Facilitate critical public healthcare decision-making by aggregating (and, of course, anonymising) all data.
This last need has been well illustrated in these recent years of pandemic.
Healthcare data challenges
Healthcare data have several particularities and therefore certain challenges specific to them require to be solved.
Firstly, it is generated continuously (people go to the doctor every day) and comes 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.
Therefore, 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.
The aim is to achieve personalised and predictive medicine.
Another major challenge is that healthcare 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 treating them wherever they are.
Cloud technology makes it easier for patient data to be integrated into common platforms accessible to any healthcare professional.
Security is another fundamental point to take into account given the special sensitivity of healthcare data.
Given the particular sensitivity of healthcare data, security is another key consideration. 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, today the big players in the public cloud market have such secure solutions that security should not really be an issue.
Adoption of Cloud technology in the healthcare sector
The current situation is that, despite the advantages of Cloud, its adoption is still far from massive in the healthcare sector.
According to the report by the consultancy firm Quint “The current state and future of Cloud Computing in the healthcare sector”, the main barriers to 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 are facing a major 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 the same 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.
Therefore, healthcare organisations will move in the next few years from using the Cloud primarily to store data to using the technology to analyse data, reduce costs and improve patient care.
Cloud is not a fad, 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 the adoption of Cloud solutions in this sector compared to other sectors.