Globally, healthcare is embracing cloud technologies and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is in a hurry to explore innovative solutions that support patient-centric care through efficient capture and dissemination of medical and health information. Research by Frost & Sullivan: Analysis of Healthcare Cloud in APAC, recently reported the market for cloud technologies, which included software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings, was valued at US$194.4 million in 2012 – and the market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.3% between 2012 and 2018.
"Healthcare providers are cognisant of the long term cost benefits of cloud solutions. What they are looking for now, are reliable technology partners who can address their concerns over data privacy and security," said Natasha Gulati, Connected Health Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific. Although many healthcare IT vendors emphasise the enhanced security and back-up support provided by cloud technologies, the message has yet to reach hospital CIOs. This is why healthcare continues to invest in private clouds while other industries are rapidly moving to public or hybrid cloud models. In addition, given the current pressures of rising costs and diminishing margins, healthcare CIOs are unable to justify the significant investment required for transitioning to a cloud environment.
Given the versatility of a cloud environment, it is predicted that the cloud will be the single most important enabler of healthcare megatrends going forward. Gulati pointed out three major industry transformations that will be catalyzed by Cloud solutions:
- Healthcare industry vertical clouds
Secure cloud environments that allow healthy information sharing among all stakeholders, thus delivering efficiencies at every stage of the value chain. Adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs) has driven a wave of interest in industry vertical clouds because they help extract maximum value from digitisation of healthcare.
- Telehealth and remote patient monitoring
Not only do cloud technologies provide the software and infrastructure required to share vital information over a distance they also enable real-time analysis of information gathered from remotely located systems. This enables telemedicine and patient-monitoring devices to capture critical physiological data and use it so that the time taken to respond to an adverse situation can be minimized.
- Consumerization of healthcare
Consumers are still waiting for the day when a single, convenient biometric identifier or a mobile phone will be sufficient to secure healthcare services. APAC consumers are still carry large sums of cash while visiting a hospital and insurance portability remains a distant dream. Data collaboration, not just among healthcare organisations but also across industries, is a critical component missing from the healthcare delivery value chain. Cloud technologies will play a pivotal part in establishing the healthcare industry of the future.