Asia-Pac catches case of 'cloud fever'
The market for software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service technologies is set to explode in Asia in the next half-decade, growing at a compound annual rate of 22.3 percent between now and 2018.
"Healthcare providers are cognizant of the long term cost benefits of cloud solutions," said Natasha Gulati, connected health industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific, in an Oct. 1 news release. "What they are looking for now, are reliable technology partners who can address their concerns over data privacy and security."
While many healthcare IT vendors emphasize the enhanced security and back-up support provided by cloud technologies, the message has not successfully reached hospital CIOs yet, according to Frost & Sullivan. This is why healthcare continues to invest in private clouds while other industries are rapidly moving to public or hybrid cloud models.
Moreover, 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.
Still, thanks to the versatility of a cloud environment, Frost & Sullivan predicts that cloud will be the single most important enabler of healthcare "megatrends" in the future. Gulati pointed out three major industry transformations that will be catalyzed by cloud solutions:
- Healthcare industry vertical clouds. Healthcare expenditure across Asia-Pacific is expected to almost double over the next six years as the elderly population expands. On the other hand, R&D expenditure on pharmaceuticals and biotechnology is not reaping the returns that were expected. Stakeholders across the industry, including government bodies and research organizations, are seeking tools to carry out cost effective outcomes based research. Enter industry vertical clouds – secure cloud environments that allow healthy information sharing amongst all healthcare stakeholders, thus delivering efficiencies at all stages of the value chain. Adoption of EHRs has spurred a wave of interest in industry vertical clouds as these can help extract maximum value from digitization of healthcare.
- Telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Aging populations and rising incidence of chronic diseases is driving the Asia-Pac consumers to seek tools for continuous health monitoring and assurance. 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 has enabled telemedicine and patient monitoring devices to capture critical physiological data and action it on the fly so that the time taken to respond to an adverse situation can be minimized. The implications of this advancement are phenomenal when one considers the volumes spent on critical care even in developed countries as well as the emotional stress a care-giver must go through when help does not arrive when needed most.
- 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. Asia-Pac consumers are still stuck in the rut of carrying large sums of cash while visiting a hospital and insurance portability remains a distant dream. Data collaboration, not just amongst healthcare organizations but also across industries, is a critical component which is missing from the whole healthcare delivery value chain and this alone can enhance patient experience. Cloud technologies will play a pivotal role in establishing the healthcare industry of the future.