As the baby-boom population in the US ages, and an increasing number of people remain active later in life, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the healthcare sector is poised to continue an explosive growth trajectory well into 2026. Managers in the sector will find employment opportunities growing 20% annually as compared to the 7-8% for other industries. An interesting parallel to this trend is the growth of cloud computing in the sector. A MarketsAndMarkets report forecasts that the global healthcare cloud computing market growing at a CAGR of 18.2% is expected to reach USD 44.93 billion by 2023. As healthcare cloud adoption increases almost in-step with the industry, it is profitable to examine the reasons behind the rapid growth.

Healthcare industry setting pace in cloud adoption

Research by consulting firm WestMonroe which surveyed three hundred leaders across three sectors of the economy – healthcare, financial services, and energy & utilities, found that healthcare is way further along the road to cloud adoption than the others. One reason is that healthcare organizations typically do not have large internal IT organizations and infrastructure. Cloud solutions with their scalability, ease-of-use, and low cost of initial set-up have therefore found a faster-than-the-others adoption in this sector, with over 35% of the organizations surveyed housing over half their data in the cloud. This has helped healthcare organizations both lower their costs as well as redeploy bandwidth and resources toward bettering patient care.

Trends, complexities, and challenges

People are increasingly using wearable devices, and with IoT gaining traction, healthcare equipment devices are more ‘connected’ today. There is great potential for forward looking healthcare providers to leverage big data analytics to try and make sense of the wealth of data that can now be captured. However, even as IT departments at healthcare organizations get further downsized because of cloud adoption, what is lost is the industry’s capability to leverage the power of their clouds through data analytics. Couple this with its historical inability to keep pace with technology disruptions, to realize that healthcare will find it challenging to stitch together the interoperability and coordination required to deliver value-added solutions. Other complexities to data analytics include the HIPAA privacy rule which raise the costs and compliance requirements for sharing patient information, and the later HITECH act which increases these even further. The privacy and security implications of leveraging cloud data for healthcare innovations are truly enormous.

The opportunity for cloud to integrate further into the core

Cloud based infrastructure, platform, and service providers will need to demonstrate ability to comply with stringent privacy and security norms as the industry grows and increases adoption. Due to the sensitive and valuable nature of the data available with them they will need to setup and demonstrate disaster proof data protection mechanisms to gain the trust and business of the compliance weary industry. Continuing cloud growth will also depend much on the ability of providers to continue marketing to effect, the undeniable advantages of their solutions in lowering costs for setup and scaling, as well as the potential of the data access-from-anywhere-anytime for both doctors and patients.

References:

i. “Healthcare Cloud Computing Market by Application, Service, Deployment & End User – 2023 | MarketsandMarkets.” Accessed August 10, 2018. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/cloud-computing-healthcare-market-347.html.
ii. “Medical and Health Services Managers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Accessed August 10, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm.
iii. “Technology Is Transforming Everything.” West Monroe Partners. Accessed August 10, 2018. https://www.westmonroepartners.com/Insights/White-Papers/Technology-is-Transforming-Everything.
iv. “The HIPAA Privacy Rule And Its Impact On Healthcare Organizations.” Brown and Fortunato PC, March 5, 2015. https://www.bf-law.com/the-hipaa-privacy-rule-and-its-impact-on-healthcare-organizations/.

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