How the cloud impacts the day-to-day lives of physicians

The next generation of doctors is going to be able to more easily separate the advantages and disadvantages of cloud technology and be able to embrace these technologies because they help them do their jobs better, an expert says.
By Nathan Eddy
11:51 AM
How the cloud impacts the day-to-day lives of physicians

The multiple tools cloud-based technology enables are having a radically transformative effect on healthcare provider organizations, which simultaneously is affecting physicians – and not always for the good.

While the cloud brings improvements in efficiency and can help streamline formerly time-consuming tasks like data entry or medical research, the consumer-facing applications providers now are expected to provide can bring additional stress to healthcare professionals.

Care around the clock

“There are some questions around boundaries that physicians have to deal with, because the practice travels with you now,” explained Deloitte’s chief digital officer for healthcare Jason Wainstein. “With the cloud enabling things like virtual healthcare and telehealth, you can essentially provide care around the clock if you chose to – so when do you leave the office, when do you go home?”

Wainstein noted physicians who are “digital natives” like the current generation just graduating from medical school might feel additional pressure – not only when it comes to understanding the technology, but figuring out how to best apply its benefits to their own practice.

“Digital native physicians view the world and care delivery differently,” he explained. “The next generation is going to be able to more easily separate the advantages and disadvantages of cloud technology and be able to embrace these technologies because they help them do their jobs better.”

On a fundamental level, Wainstein said the baseline expectations and the way these folks are viewing the world is different, which he thinks is going to result in monumental changes in the healthcare system.

Shifting business model

He noted cloud technology is resulting in a “significantly shifting” business model, which also is accelerating rapidly, which he pointed out is not often a point of passion for physicians who got into the business of caring for people for reasons other than business.

“If we’re talking about how cloud deployment can change a physician’s life, the simple answer is that it doesn’t have to,” Dr. Abed Saif, founding partner and director of healthcare advisory services firm AbedGraham, told HealthcareITNews. “Quite often the key to a successful transition from a user perspective is not to disrupt the workflows they are comfortable with and that have been optimized for patient care.”

He explained that if moving to the cloud creates more flexibility and mobility, or gives access to cloud-hosted applications with richer features, then that is great, but should not be expected unless it is a core objective of moving to the cloud.

Wainstein also pointed out cloud-enabled technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning-based applications could provide physicians with a “superhuman” research partner available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A digital collaborator

“The ability to use AI for guided decision making or the capability to use image recognition tools to provide first-line identification for anomalies for tumors, for example, gives a physician a backstop, a digital collaborator to go through the care delivery process, in a way that’s personalized to them and can provide them 24/7 with a scaffolding around the care delivery process,” he said.

Overall, Wainstein explained the cloud has the potential to provide physicians working alone and in teams with the power of instant communication in ways that were not previously available.

“The big question, of course, is how do you equip them in the best way possible,” he said.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209