The 9 key benefits of cloud computing in healthcare

An up-close image of a doctor in a lab coat wearing a stethoscope is working while on their cellphone, an increasingly important part of cloud computing in healthcare.

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Digital transformation requires creativity — an ability to look at how things are done today and reimagine them for the future.

For healthcare organizations (HCOs), that means looking beyond today’s (or yesterday’s) model and identifying what could be.

The ability to imagine an expanding future often comes from discoveries that reveal possibilities we couldn’t fathom before. Alternatively, visions of a new way of doing things can also come from experiences in our past that force us to push past the limits we’ve accepted as possible.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the speed at which health systems implemented new technology, such as telemedicine, was faster than anyone thought possible.

Today’s HCOs have an opportunity: They can drive more innovation, more differentiation and better outcomes for their patients when they expand their vision of the future This growth mindset can enhance experiences for patients, employees and affiliated staff.

The growth of cloud computing in healthcare

The advantages of cloud computing are being noticed by healthcare leaders, especially as the ongoing impact of COVID-19 shapes the industry. Many recognize that it brings the opportunity to improve patient engagement, move past legacy systems and reduce IT costs.

A challenge is that healthcare organizations have lagged in cloud adoption as they have with other technologies when compared with other industries, according to Forrester’s Best practices for healthcare in the cloud.

Where financial services and professional/business services have 17% of their budgets going to tech, healthcare is at just 3% — even government spends more on tech at 13%.

The exciting thing for healthcare is where the industry is projected to go: Research by Technavio estimates that healthcare cloud computing will grow by $33.49 billion between 2021 and 2025 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.18%.

While most organizations aren’t starting at zero when it comes to cloud computing, it’s important for leaders to have a clear view of how to expand their cloud footprint and why it must be a priority.

A doctor shows a patient an imaging result on a tablet.

The 9 key advantages of cloud computing in healthcare

The core benefits that cloud computing offers to healthcare are:

  1. Enhanced cost savings
  2. Ability to focus on your care mission
  3. A modernization launchpad for legacy systems
  4. Remote employees are fully supported
  5. Increased agility
  6. New, smarter technology and integrations are easier to access
  7. Improved patient experiences
  8. Care teams get a complete view, seamlessly
  9. Stronger disaster recovery preparedness

Let’s take a look at each.

1. Enhanced cost savings

Healthcare organizations that adopt cloud computing derive most of their cost savings from eliminating hardware acquisition and the cost of maintenance and labor (essentially, the expense of maintaining data centers).

According to Technology Advice, organizations can save an average of 15% on all IT costs by migrating to the cloud.

But savings don’t come automatically and must be managed.

Appoint an individual for managing cloud costs; this is something 94% of successful enterprises do, according to a 451 Research survey commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

2. Ability to focus on your care mission

Over the years, HCOs have experienced technology creep:

  • More hardware and software
  • Complex information storage requirements
  • Increasing difficulty in hiring technology experts

Do HCOs want to run information technology organizations? Most don’t — a quick look at the mission of most shows the majority seek to prioritize health outcomes and be pillars for community support.

When healthcare teams turn to cloud computing with a cloud partner such as AWS, they offload much of the burden that comes with maintaining their information technology infrastructure.

3. A modernization launchpad for legacy systems

Most HCOs are modernizing their technology investments, but it can be difficult (and expensive) to do it all at once.

Even as the benefits of the cloud in healthcare become obvious, old legacy systems are still in play. Cloud enablement can provide an avenue to help bridge the gaps of legacy systems; for example, siloed diagnostic images can be migrated to a vendor neutral archive in the cloud, making them accessible across the organization by the people who need access. Other legacy departmental systems can be migrated to the cloud, which eliminates costs and allows more users to access the systems and their data.

HCOs looking for cloud talent compete not only with other cloud-focused enterprises, but also with cloud vendors that can offer enormous salaries. A senior software developer at Amazon can make upward of 340,000 dollars annually, compared with a similar-level developer at a hospital, who might make 147,000 dollars annually.

$Forrester, Best practices for healthcare in the cloud 2022$

4. Remote employees are fully supported

Healthcare may not come to mind first when you think of remote work, but during the pandemic employees that were not needed for clinical care often moved home, and physicians such as radiologists began to read patient images from home as well. With space freed up and employees and clinicians satisfied with this arrangement, remote work is here to stay at many organizations. Video conferencing and messaging apps allow them to connect with others, and with cloud enablement, remote and in-the-field access can be provided from any location with an internet connection.

> Read more | How to set employee expectations for remote work

5. Increased agility

Another benefit of cloud computing in healthcare is that a strategy based on the cloud enables HCOs to quickly scale up their IT infrastructure or add new capabilities as business conditions demand.

Where on-premises deployment may feel more familiar, the time it takes to scale up an on-premises solution is just too long to support an agile organization that is ready to respond quickly to changes in their market or overall environment. The reality is a cloud deployment:

  • Increases the speed of solution delivery: you don’t have to provision, purchase or wait for delivery of IT infrastructure
  • Allows new computer power and storage to be available in a day or less
  • Speeds development with reusable components instead of relying on monolithic applications, as EY notes

6. New, smarter technology and integrations are easier to access

Strategic cloud enablement means faster updates and more extensible technology. For example, a cloud-enabled HCO has access to:

> Read more | 50+ RPA use cases

7. Improved patient experiences

Patient expectations have been affected both by the empowered consumer environment and the revolution in digital savviness ushered in by the pandemic.

Patients, like all consumers, expect a simple and comprehensive digital experience:

  • Simple accessibility
  • User-friendly interfaces
  • Quick responses
  • Anticipatory service (think, “Frequently bought together” on Amazon, or “Because you watched” on Netflix)

They want a platform that keeps them informed throughout their healthcare journey, from collecting and reviewing research to keeping an eye on their symptoms, diagnosis and care; and finally, managing chronic illness.

Patients want to log into one website that enables them to complete all inquiries and transactions with their healthcare provider including:

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Accessing their clinical information, including lab results and medical images
  • Paying bills

HCOs that effectively meet these expectations are likely to enjoy higher levels of patient engagement.

A patient in her home looks at her tablet while attending a telemedicine appointment.

8. Care teams get a complete view, seamlessly

Historically, healthcare providers have hesitated to move to the cloud due to security concerns and fear of putting patient privacy at risk. However, the cloud’s benefits are beginning to overcome this hesitancy as more organizations come to understand just how secure data in the cloud can be.

With a secure cloud strategy, authorized medical staff and other healthcare providers can access clinical and business data across the organization. This helps eliminate silos and complex networking solutions, and provides a faster and more solid foundation for patient care. Regardless of their location, medical staff can:

  • Access patient data from multiple, connected sources
  • View and share patient information and test results
  • Collaborate on patient diagnoses and care decisions from anywhere

9. Stronger disaster recovery preparedness

Traditionally, IT departments have backed up their systems and stored them on devices in multiple locations. This process is manual and prone to error, with devices that take up physical space.

In healthcare, having the most up-to-date, accurate and accessible information can mean life or death. Most HCOs rely on electronic medical records and patient care systems that are critical to patient care and must be accurate 24/7 without downtime.

An advantage of cloud computing in healthcare (and all industries) is that cloud-based data recovery provides increased reliability and reduced downtime over on-premises deployment. Downtime is reduced because the recovery is automated as opposed to the manual processes involved in traditional backup models.

Bridge healthcare content gaps with content services and cloud computing

HCOs manage multiple streams of content-centric processes and unstructured data, from medical images to physician consult notes and EKGs.

Often, that information is stored on paper or as electronic images, and that important data never makes it into the EMR. This lack of integration makes it difficult or impossible to access in a timely manner.

When this data gap exists, clinicians can’t access information that is relevant when making care decisions. According to a recent survey by HIMSS, 37% of health systems reported they do not have unstructured patient information available at the point of care.

The result is that clinicians are not able to make fully informed patient care decisions. This can result in suboptimal patient outcomes or even medical errors.

Not having access to unstructured data can have serious results.

Why combine? The power of content services, healthcare and cloud computing

HCOs use content services platforms (CSP), still commonly known as enterprise content management systems (ECM) to integrate content with the EMR. A leading enterprise CSP allows authorized clinicians and staff in any department to access the information they need — when, where and how they need it — and provides a more complete view of the patient for improved decisions and enhanced outcomes.

When a CSP is deployed on the cloud, these HCOs can:

  • Eliminate or reduce the costs of storing paper and physical media
  • Expect more predictable budgeting
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve outcomes by breaking down accessibility and search barriers

ROI: Get a custom quote for moving to the cloud

Should you invest in new hardware to accommodate a new — or upgraded — solution?

Or is this the time to make the leap to the cloud?

Hyland Healthcare, a leading content services provider for the healthcare industry, provides solutions for over 50% of the U.S. hospital market. Request your free cloud ROI assessment today to:

  • Quantify the impact of moving to a subscription-based, cloud content services solution
  • Analyze trends over three to five years
  • Use your unique criteria, assumptions, data and calculations
  • Get a shareable summary of financial findings, intangible benefits, plus an executive summary for an easy-to-digest snapshot

> Request your free, custom healthcare cloud assessment | Send an email now: [email protected]

Hyland on AWS

Hyland is listed in the AWS Marketplace. Learn more about the benefits of purchasing Healthcare solutions in AWS Marketplace:

  • Streamline procurement
  • Implement controls and automate provisioning
  • Manage software budgets with cost transparency

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Julie Clements

Julie Clements is a healthcare solution marketing manager at Hyland.

... read more about: Julie Clements