Applications of Cloud Computing In Healthcare

Kenny Kleinerman
Cloud Use CasesEdge Computing
18 Jan 2022

Cloud computing was traditionally used by the IT industry for data backup, software development and testing, disaster recovery, and more. However, with the advancement of technology, cloud providers have developed different solutions tailored to specific industries. From healthcare and smart automotive to insurance, retail, and education, more and more industries are adopting the cloud to reap the benefits.

Cloud computing in healthcare is gaining more and more popularity, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of cloud computing in healthcare is evident from the fact that the global cloud computing market for the healthcare industry is expected to reach around $25.54 billion by 2024. Cloud computing is now a must-have technology for the healthcare industry to provide an optimal patient-centered experience.

In this article, we’ll provide a thorough understanding of cloud healthcare, hosting healthcare cloud, healthcare cloud architecture, healthcare cloud managed services, cloud deployment models for healthcare, and all the related concepts.

Cloud Computing Systems and Applications in Healthcare

Cloud computing in healthcare
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Cloud-based healthcare is the process of integrating cloud computing technology into healthcare services for cost savings, easy data sharing, personalized medicine, telehealth apps, and more benefits. Many healthcare providers also use cloud-based systems in healthcare for safe data storage, backups, and digital record retrieval.

Cloud-based healthcare solutions help with the following aspects in the healthcare industry:

  • Better analysis and monitoring of data related to diagnosis and treatment of different diseases
  • Massive storage resources for large datasets for EHR (Electronic Health Record) and radiology images
  • Ability to provide on-demand access to computing resources
  • Sharing of EHR only among authorized physicians, doctors, and hospitals in different locations around the world, providing timely access to information critical for saving lives and reducing the need for duplicate testing
  • Improved data analysis
  • Enhanced tracking of patients’ healthcare data

Adopting cloud healthcare computing reduces the overhead of tasks like upgrading records. Cloud technology in the healthcare industry helps develop a proper plan for monitoring patients remotely. Additionally, cloud technology in healthcare provides new and valuable insights for different healthcare management solutions.

Applications of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Below are some of the most useful healthcare cloud applications:

E-health and Telemedicine

Cloud computing is now widely used for E-health, which refers to providing healthcare services electronically through the internet. The cloud allows different medical professionals to collaborate and give their input on complex medical cases, such as telesurgery, teleradiology, etc.

E-health provides the right clinical treatment to patients residing anywhere in the world. Telemedicine projects use cloud computing as an information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure for better doctor-to-doctor and doctor-to-patient communication and interaction.

Cloud solutions for healthcare and telemedicine also help with:

  • Sharing patients’ medical data in real-time across different geographical locations
  • Minimizing unnecessary visits to hospitals, thereby saving time and money

Drug Discovery

Cloud computing plays a significant role in drug recovery because drug recovery requires a large number of computing resources for discovering different compounds from billions of chemical structures. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) services are especially useful in simplifying this process.

Healthcare Information Systems

The healthcare industry uses cloud-based management information systems to provide improved patient care, manage human resources, better-querying services, and billing and finance. Cloud computing in the healthcare industry is also used to develop, test and deploy these systems.

Cloud computing helps with fast, collaborative development, better integration of the system with other healthcare systems, and cross-platform compatibility.

Personal Health Records

Another cloud computing application in healthcare is managing access to personal health records (PHR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR). With cloud-based programs for PHR, users can easily access and manage the PHR database and share data. These programs have advanced sharing features that give users high control over shared data. Some programs also use protocols like SOAP and can be used for mobile and desktop applications.

Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS)

CDSS is an advanced system that uses the knowledge and behavior of a medical professional to provide advice on the patient record analysis. This system is used for diagnosing conditions and prescribing medication. Cloud computing can be used to create such systems that provide better patient care.

Additionally, with the advancement of technology, smartphones and fitness trackers now monitor heart rate, diabetes, and blood pressure. Cloud-based systems can be used for efficient real-time diagnosis; patients share their data and get the right advice from their physicians at the right time.

Cloud-based Digital Libraries

Libraries are an important asset and source of knowledge for medical students, practitioners, and researchers. Cloud-based libraries have massive file storage, query languages, and indexing service.

With cloud-based libraries, medical students and practitioners can access information on demand to stay up to date on the latest research. Additionally, physicians can access useful information to understand the progress in the healthcare industry and improve their work practice.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Advantages of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Cloud computing in healthcare offers benefits for both healthcare providers and patients. Healthcare providers use the cloud to lower costs and provide personalized medicine. On the other hand, with cloud adoption in healthcare, patients are getting faster delivery of healthcare services and are able to engage more with their care and treatment.

Some of the key benefits of cloud technology in healthcare:

Cost Savings

A big impact of cloud computing on the healthcare industry is that it helps reduce costs. When healthcare institutions manage medical billing systems and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) on-premise,  costs increase. The medical institution must upgrade records, utilize space, and ensure data security. However, with the cloud, healthcare providers can use the resources of cloud computing healthcare companies, so they don’t have to purchase and maintain expensive equipment and systems. Healthcare companies can also reduce costs by getting rid of in-house storage.

Because cloud computing is based on a subscription model, cloud providers for healthcare charge you only for the resources you use. By using cloud computing in healthcare, you also don’t need large in-house IT teams, which further reduces costs.

Cloud computing in healthcare even boasts indirect cost savings, such as better staff productivity and less system downtime thanks to reliable cloud-based apps.

Customization

Before cloud computing in healthcare, electronic health records required experienced programmers and IT professionals to develop customized solutions. However, cloud-based solutions for healthcare are completely customizable and come with built-in care plans and features. A variety of easy interfaces and templates are available for customized cloud-based solutions.

High Data Storage Capacity

The digital data that hospitals and healthcare practices produce is increasing day-by-day, such as medical records, prescriptions, and lab tests. Storing such data on-premise requires purchasing expensive storage devices.

However, the cloud offers unlimited storage and can efficiently manage large volumes of data. One of the key benefits of cloud storage in healthcare is that you can add more storage, depending on your requirements.

Better Collaboration

Cloud computing in healthcare has made sharing data easy and simple. Cloud computing allows safe, secure, and real-time data sharing with relevant doctors and care providers. Cloud computing also helps with remote conferencing and instant updates on patients’ conditions.

Better Patient Experience

Healthcare cloud computing companies improve patient engagement and allow them to access their medical information, doctor’s prescription, and test results anytime from anywhere. This allows patients to get a better understanding of their medical conditions. Additionally, quick data sharing via the cloud eliminates unnecessary testing and prevents overprescription because doctors can easily access patients’ medical histories.

Disadvantages of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Challenges of cloud computing in healthcare include:

Security Concerns

Security is one of the major issues with the adoption of the cloud in any industry. In the healthcare industry, it is even more important to keep patients’ confidential medical data secure.

This is why it is crucial to choose a secure and reliable cloud provider like Ridge. In addition to being highly secure, Ridge offers the flexibility of the public cloud along with the power of local data centers for cloud computing.

Data Availability

Another concern of healthcare providers regarding cloud computing in healthcare is the lack of control over their data and apps in case the cloud service provider faces a downtime or any other issue. However, with a reliable cloud provider, this isn’t usually an issue because the cloud runs on multiple servers with built-in redundancy to reduce downtime.

Internet Access

Since data in the cloud can only be accessed via the internet, access to the data can also be limited if there are any internet connectivity issues. This can greatly affect the performance and services of the healthcare institute.

‍If you’re interested, we also have an article on the 5 Benefits of Cloud Technology in Healthcare.

Types of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Cloud computing in healthcare can be divided into two categories: cloud computing services and cloud computing environment.

Cloud Computing Services

 

Types of cloud computing services
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Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):

IaaS includes physical processing and storage resources offered by a third-party cloud provider over the internet.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

In this model, a third-party cloud provider provides software and hardware tools, such as a debugger, compiler, and source code editor. PaaS is used to develop, test and deploy online HealthTech applications.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is another cloud computing service model that delivers ready-to-use, cloud-based software, such as clinical information systems. In SaaS, healthcare companies get that access to cloud-based software, but it is hosted and managed by a third-party cloud provider.

If you want to learn about cloud computing services in detail, check out our article on IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Cloud Computing Environments

 Types of cloud environments
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Public cloud: The same cloud provider offers services to multiple clients.

Private cloud: Cloud services are provided to only one client, offering better security.

Hybrid cloud in healthcare: Hybrid cloud for healthcare combines both on-premise and private and public cloud options.

Cloud Computing in Healthcare Examples

MyPHRmachines System

A PHR system called the MyPHRmachines system has been developed by the Eindhoven University of technology using cloud technology. With this system, users can access the PHR database through specific software and share and analyze the PHR data. MyPHRmachines is designed to provide access to different users with better flexibility but offers high security at the same time.

Patients who use this system can easily share specific healthcare data with their physicians without worrying about data misuse because the system deletes copies of the data after a certain time limit. Additionally, the data that the patients don’t want to share is secure in the system, and no third party can access it.

Cloud-based Telemedicine

Another example of cloud computing in healthcare is a project in Australia for cloud-based telemedicine. The project used cloud computing for telemedicine, e-appointment, e-prescription, and e-consulting to allow patients to connect with their physicians remotely to discuss their health-related issues.

With this cloud-based system, physicians and doctors access patients’ medical records, files, and test results more easily. This cloud-based system for healthcare also provided data related to the physiological status of the patients through body sensor networks.

Microsoft HealthVault

Microsoft HealthVault is another cloud-based PHR management system. Patients can use it to store, manage, and share their PHR. Additionally, they can conveniently import their healthcare information from different medical devices into the healthvault without needing any extra tools and software.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How are cloud computing and healthcare services related?

Cloud computing is now widely used in the healthcare industry for different purposes. From large data storage and disaster recovery to personalized medicine and better patient care, cloud computing in healthcare is now a must-have technology.

What are the pros and cons of cloud computing in healthcare?

Cloud computing in healthcare provides better patient care with fewer costs. It also allows doctors and patients to access medical data online and improve patient engagement. When it comes to the disadvantages of cloud computing in healthcare, security is a major concern. But, choosing a reliable cloud provider can eliminate this issue.

What is the future of cloud computing in healthcare?

With more and more healthcare companies adopting the cloud and the wide range of benefits that cloud computing offers for the healthcare industry, the future of cloud computing is bright. The global cloud computing market in healthcare is expected to reach around $25.54 billion.


Author:
Linkedin Kenny Kleinerman, Head of Content | Ridge
As the Head of Content at Ridge, Kenny is in charge of navigating the tough subjects and bringing the Cloud down to Earth.