Is cloud the cornerstone of digital transformation in healthcare?

Written by Roberto Mircoli, EMEA sales enablement and development, Virtustream.

Today every part of the business is subject to new expectations, competitors, channels, threats and opportunities. Every business has the potential to be a digital business. As the numbers of smart, connected devices from phones to cars to wearables are growing, companies that quickly deliver digital solutions or services, and use insights to rapidly optimise their value chain are gaining competitive advantage. Businesses that digitally transform will be able to connect more closely with customers, speed up the pace of innovation and, as a result, claim a greater share of profit in their sectors. In fact, according to a report earlier last year from IDC, the global economic impact of digital transformation to date already exceeds £14 trillion, a staggering 20% of global GDP.

Put simply digital transformation is the trend of enterprises shifting away from traditional systems in favour of digital options to enable major improvements in productivity and unlock new lines of business value creation.   In recent years digital transformation has been driven by the explosion of cloud computing, big data, and mobile technologies.

While big data and mobile have driven digital transformation, the cornerstone of it all is cloud.

Flexible, cost efficient and accessible from anywhere, the cloud has already been a transformative technology for many industries. However, while migrating to the cloud is a top priority for virtually all organisations embracing digital transformation projects, the path to get there involves navigating a great many obstacles, especially for those operating in highly-regulated industries. Healthcare, in particular, is at the top of the list.

Over the past few years, cloud adoption has been on the rise in the healthcare industry. To date, organisations have primarily been testing the waters by focusing on modernising the back-end of their systems, moving financial, operational and HR applications into the cloud. Now there is increasing demand for transforming core healthcare systems and applications in order to improve the quality of patient care with new digital services that empower patients to take control of their own health and reduce costs of operations as well as modernise infrastructure and create a more efficient environment in order to again take costs out.  In fact according to a recent study by Accenture, the healthcare industry stands to save over £44 billion in the long-term by making the right strategic technology investments today.

However, as anyone managing IT for a hospital or clinic can tell you, moving to the cloud is not as simple as signing up for a public cloud service. For IT leaders in the healthcare industry, it involves taking into account a wide array of complex factors, including regulatory compliance, information security and organisational change. Indeed, security mandates are increasing due to the upswing in cyberattacks on health providers, you only have to look at the WannaCry ransomware attack last year and how that impacted many NHS hospitals across the UK to see how healthcare and in particular health information and systems are being targeted.   This has led many healthcare providers to closely examine enterprise cloud options for hybrid and off-premises deployment models that meet or exceed high security and compliance requirements whilst offering utility-based billing and cloud flexibility.

The good news is that healthcare IT is now trending towards the cloud and digital transformation is well underway with hospitals, care centres and clinics all undergoing some form of digital transformation, integrating their electronic patient record (EMR) platforms and new patient engagement systems and as well as emerging precision health platforms.

Here at Virtustream, we have our own Healthcare Cloud which is purpose-built for mission critical healthcare applications, with availability SLAs of up to 99.99%, full automation for HIPAA and HITECH compliance, and rigorous end-to-end security to protect patient information.

With organisations continuing to migrate to the cloud, healthcare providers require a fast turnaround when getting infrastructure up and running. Cloud applications such as Virtustream’s have been successful in delivering this within just six months.  Applications that offer consumption billing means organisations are only charged based on the resources they use, allowing for major cost savings. For healthcare providers, the result is a flexible cloud infrastructure that runs as a single entity, no matter the location.

As digital technology continues to transform the healthcare industry, the right cloud infrastructure can pave the way for providers of every kind.

So, what should healthcare organisations look for in a cloud provider?

  • Partner with a cloud provider that guarantees the safety and security of patients’ health data with a full suite of security and compliance capabilities and delivers true ‘cloud’ benefits such as pay-as-you-go with the flexibility to scale up or down.
  • Look for a cloud provider with the cloud infrastructure and managed services needed to manage all of the categories of mission critical applications including EMRs; ERP systems; workforce management systems; precision medicine platforms; picture archive and communication systems (PACS) as well as many other health IT systems.
  • Check that your provider offers guaranteed in-region hosting, to meet country-specific data residency requirements.
  • Choose to work with a cloud provider that has a solid track record and proven expertise.

By choosing a cloud provider with superior service, governance, security and flexibility, healthcare providers can make significant improvements to their current IT infrastructure, while at the same time transforming their systems to be future-ready. Today digitally transformed companies have an edge; tomorrow, only those businesses that have digitally transformed will succeed.



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