Healthcare leaders are embracing the benefits of the cloud and software as a service (SaaS) after the pandemic challenged them to adapt and innovate like never before. 66% of them expect to move their technology infrastructures to the cloud this year – a number that is set to rise to 96% by 2024 . Yet moving to the cloud is more than just a technology transformation. It’s an organizational transformation. Through cloud-based platforms and solutions, healthcare systems can begin to unlock clinical and operational insights at scale while speeding up innovation cycles for continuous value delivery.
Integrating data across the care continuum
In many ways, COVID-19 catapulted healthcare into the future. The pandemic created a new urgency for healthcare leaders to expand their virtual care offerings as a way of connecting with patients beyond the walls of the hospital. At the same time, they wanted the flexibility to scale up or down without large upfront capital expenditures. Effective crisis management also required the rapid exchange of patient information across systems and care settings. Thanks to the flexibility of pay-as-you-go cloud-based services and solutions, healthcare providers were able to quickly scale up digital health technologies to meet new demands. As a result, the acceptance of cloud has increased remarkably .
Keeping patient data secure and compliant
As healthcare leaders embark on this journey to the cloud, data protection is a critical consideration. Data processing in healthcare must comply with rigorous standards, whether it is HIPAA in the US or GDPR in the EU. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations also remain a top target for data breaches, calling for additional data security protection measures .
While the need for data security and regulatory compliance has historically motivated healthcare organizations to keep data on premises, today there is a growing awareness that moving to the cloud can in fact be the better road to travel. In fact, 60% of healthcare leaders now cite security as one of the top benefits of the cloud . When healthcare organizations rely on their own data centers, they are responsible for security from end to end, which can become prohibitively complex and time-consuming as IT infrastructures expand over time. Cloud-based services and solutions can reduce dependency on local hardware to store sensitive data while automated software updates keep systems current.
Turning data into insights at scale at the point of care
Working from these foundations, the next big opportunity in healthcare is to capture the insights in the data that we are beginning to connect and integrate. This is where the cloud is also turning into a vital enabler, with its powerful computing resources and advanced machine learning capabilities, offered as microservices. These microservices provide the building blocks to develop new digital solutions that, once validated and approved, can be deployed at scale to help improve clinical outcomes and operational efficiency.
Enabling rapid experimentation and continuous value delivery
Embracing the cloud also changes the very nature of innovation in healthcare.
Healthcare-compliant cloud platforms offer a flexible foundation for rapid development and testing of digital applications. Cross-functional teams working in short and agile cycles can put new digital applications into the hands of physicians or patients more quickly, and then add new or improved features and functionalities as they gather additional user feedback. That means healthcare organizations get to innovate faster. And in smaller, more digestible increments.
Moving to the cloud is not all or nothing
Of course, none of this is to suggest that moving to the cloud is like switching a button. It’s a complex and multi-year journey for most of our customers. And it’s quite a journey for Philips, too. Any organization that has accumulated a large number of legacy systems and infrastructures over the years will have to manage a hybrid architecture during their journey to the cloud .