Healthcare providers need a reliable and secure way to record their work with patients. Elements like diagnoses, treatment history, and personal health information are all critical pieces of knowledge that must be documented and stored for future reference.

Over the years, the method for storing these records has changed significantly. In the 20th century, the only option was paper records, which take up large amounts of physical space, are impractical for sharing with other healthcare providers, and are vulnerable to being destroyed. With the advent of computers, electronic medical records could be saved on-site. However, these still require space for IT servers, come with power requirements, and are still vulnerable to damage if the hospital experiences a fire, flood, or other kind of disaster. 

The arrival of the Internet has created a third option: cloud-based storage. Rather than store data in hard drive servers on-site at a clinic or hospital, healthcare groups can instead purchase server space from cloud-based computing services and then access their files over the Internet on their medical computers. In today’s article, we’ll explore the advantages of cloud computing in healthcare. 

Meets Federal Regulations

Since January 1st, 2014, it has been required by federal law under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for healthcare groups to use electronic records to store information about their patients and interactions with them. The aim of the law is to improve the overall quality, safety, and efficiency of medical services by making information more readily available and easier to access. Implementing cloud computing enables healthcare groups to meet this requirement without having to invest heavily in their IT infrastructure.  

Cheaper and Safer Data Storage

Establishing data storage on-site at a clinic or hospital requires a serious investment in hardware and infrastructure. Hospitals generate an astounding 50 petabytes of data per year, which comes out to be 137 terabytes of data per day. Storing all of this information requires room, power, and personnel that most hospitals simply cannot spare or afford.

Data safety is another major concern; if the hospital experiences a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, any data stored on-site is vulnerable to destruction. Cloud-based storage, on the other hand, is located off-site and comes with multiple backups in case an accident occurs. 

Lastly is the issue of cybersecurity in healthcare. In-house IT staff typically assume the duty of protecting a hospital’s data, but they also have to deal with other tasks, such as device maintenance and technical support. By contrast, cloud providers are wholly focused on protecting their client’s data from intrusion and staying up-to-date on the latest regulations and best practices. 

Easier Collaboration

Historically, a patient would have separate files of their medical records for each provider or hospital they visited. This made collaboration between those entities extremely difficult, as information would have to be faxed or verbally shared over the phone and then recorded. 

Understandably, this made sharing information a massive headache for all parties involved. A cloud-based solution, however, can be accessed by anyone with the proper authorization anywhere. This makes sharing EMRs incredibly easy. Providers can consult specialists or get second opinions in a matter of minutes rather than hours, which leads to better results for patients. 

Enables Big Data Applications

By collecting data in a single location, large amounts of it can be processed at once. Advanced computer and AI algorithms can search and analyze thousands of EMRs in a moment, versus the weeks or months it would take a human to do so. 

Analyzed in large quantities, this data can be used to examine factors that affect entire populations. For example, it could be used to track the spread of a pandemic or to determine if there are environmental factors like pollution from nearby factories causing illness. Another possibility is using EMRs to find ways to improve their processes, such as searching for patterns of readmissions. Given how costly readmissions can be, preventing them from occurring is a key concern for hospitals. 

Supports Interoperability Between Devices

Interoperability in healthcare is the new hot-button topic in the sector. At its most basic, interoperability is the design paradigm that devices shouldn’t just work, but they should be able to work together, sharing data to better manage a patient’s condition. 

For example, a patient’s wearable health device can feed information directly to their EMR, reporting on conditions like heart rate while exercising. Providers can then access this information to draw conclusions about their patient’s progress. 

However, sharing data requires an efficient and reliable medium to exchange data. Cloud-based computing serves as this medium, creating a shared repository for devices to access as needed. 

Easier Scaling

Because cloud storage for healthcare is not committed to physical infrastructure, it is much easier to scale up or down as needed. Most cloud service providers offer a range of storage options and subscriptions, letting healthcare groups get as much data storage as they need. If their operations expand and they need more capacity, they can simply have their cloud-based provider increase their server space.

Final Thoughts

Given all its advantages, it’s no wonder that most groups are switching over to cloud computing in healthcare. Cloud-based solutions can make communication between providers easier, help them find insights into broader social health issues, and protect the data of their patients while they’re at it. 

If you’re looking for medical-grade tablets and computers ready for the cloud, contact the team at Cybernet Manufacturing. We’d be more than happy to discuss how our devices are fully cloud-compatible and ready to support your effort to transition to such a system. 

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