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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

Cloud Computing: The future of Health Care Services

Cloud Computing: The future of Health Care Services

Work related Travel is a part of Mark’s Job.

After having meetings in Sweden and Germany over the week he was now in Austria. A little uneasy throughout the day; by the time he was having dinner with his colleague, he was completely drained. As he gradually lost his appetite for ‘Schnitzel’, the last bite found him going breathless. The pangs were followed by shooting pains across his left arm and shoulder; while Mark tried to resist it by gulping down a glass of water, the pain didn’t stop. Recognizing the issue, his colleague tried to probe Mark and called out for help, while Mark fainted in the process. Needless to say, they rushed him to the hospital.

Other than his Blood Group, Mark had no records of any medical prescriptions, allergies or history with him. On connecting back home, they realized that Mark’s wife had to rush to a nearby hospital to get all his previous records. She could only manage to take snaps of his previous prescriptions to help identify his depleting condition.

Mark had a heart attack. It was mild, and he was stable within a few days. But the need of the hour was a Complete Medical History of Mark as the emergency services tried to evaluate his condition.

The question here is how do Healthcare facilities store information, Is the information comprehensible universally? Is the information portable?

Traditional way of Storing Information:

Traditionally, hospitals are used to storing information in hardcopy format in form of files and folders, which can easily be stacked on shelfs in the hospital’s Admin Department. Gradually, Healthcare facilities moved to technology, but even though their procedures changed, their approach remained the same. They evolved to having an On-Site Server, with a custom Hospital Management software which enables quick access and updating of the Hospital’s Database. But the negatives of having local Servers are

  • Infrastructure and Maintenance Costs
  • Incompatibility of Information
  • Accessibility Issues
  • Limited Analytical Ability

Why Move to the Cloud?

The Cloud Computing wave has been seeping through industries for a while now. There are 3 types of basic services available in Cloud Computing – Infrastructure as a services (IaaS), Platform as a Service(PaaS), Software as a Services(SaaS).

By utilizing IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) an enterprise can rent Infrastructure (Virtual Machines, Servers, Operating Systems, Networks) from a Cloud Services Provider. You can avail this service on PAY-AS-YOU-GO Basis.

  1. REDUCTION IN INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS:

Migrating your Healthcare support services to the Cloud, reduces upfront Infrastructure costs and maintenance costs as these services are facilitated by the Provider. Depending on the degree of usage you can easily scale-up or scale-down your Cloud Computing Services on a need basis. This flexibility helps hosting Web portals which are cost effective compared to the traditional setup for hosting private websites.

Cloud provides Small-scale Healthcare facilitators with an opportunity to participate in the Global Healthcare landscape and provide better services.

  1. PERFORMANCE:

Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides on-demand environment for developing, testing and maintaining software applications. In addition to infrastructure PaaS provides users with middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, DBMS which support quick development and delivery of applications for the business.

This flexibility enables the Healthcare firms to cater to a larger audience, personalize it for individuals, and facilitate quicker resolutions.  With Cloud Computing, Small-scale Healthcare providers can assemble development teams and come up with customized utilities for their clients using Agile Development in a Cost-efficient environment.

  1. INTEROPERABILITY:

“Interoperability is the ability of different information systems, devices or applications to connect, in a coordinated manner, within and across organizational boundaries to access, exchange and cooperatively use data amongst stakeholders, with the goal of optimizing the health of individuals and populations.”

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)

The most important improvement that Cloud Computing brings to the Healthcare industry is making it Collaborative. The possibility of sharing solutions, integrating it across Industries, and coming up with new Innovations, will revolutionize the Healthcare Industries across the globe.

In case of Emergencies the significance of Information Exchange among organizations is highlighted. Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) is a suite of XML based messaging standards designed by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Emergency Management Technical Committee, to help share information across boundaries. Having your data on the cloud facilitates easier access and faster delivery of your patient’s information also known as Personal Health Record (PHR). Such information can assist paramedics on deciding the course of treatment or in cases of major outbreaks help confine a region based on the analyzed information.

  1. HIPAA COMPLAINCE (security):

Security has always been a concern pertaining to which Healthcare Industries are hesitant to move to the Cloud. The idea of placing your Confidential data on a third-party cloud makes enterprises rethink their approach.  

The HIPAA act was laid out in 1996, which formulated a privacy rule known as Protected Health Information (PHI) with the aim of developing regulations and policies pertaining to protecting the privacy and security of Patient’s information. Any violation of this act comes with heavy penalties.

Even though HIPAA does not provide any Certification or prescribe specific methods to implementing security measures, having an encrypted system is highly encouraged. In the wake of the same almost all Cloud Platforms provide you with Encryption services to make your system HIPAA compliant.

Where some countries mandate your local data to stay in your country, this can be done by choosing a cloud service provider which has its servers local to your region. Apart from this there are independent third-party audit reports to verify the security outside and within the Provider’s facilities.

Furthermore, you can opt for a Private Cloud consumption model, wherein the server resources are exclusively used by your organization and not shared with any other vendors.

  1. ANALYTICS ON DATA:

Could Analytics is an emerging field which works with Big Data, providing technology and tools to help extract Business critical information from massive organizational databases. With an increase in number of patients receiving medical aid each year the Medical Management database is growing continuously; Complexity along with Volume is a major concern for this data. The use of Medical History of a Patient together with common Medical knowledge to provide an initial Medical Consultation is under exploration. The use of Apps to provide basic health information based on the primary symptoms which are not critical in nature is possible only with the use of AI. The analysis performed for a drug evaluation to estimate its effects on a new strain of virus/bacteria involves permutations which can be marginally reduced using AI on historic genetics data.

Data generated from Mobile devices, Activity monitors and IoT devices has added to the data storage and analytics needs. Scalability of Data Storage, Scalability of Computing power and Performance support for Machine Learning are the drives that compel Healthcare services to move their data to the cloud.

  1. INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT):

Easy to use, portable, low scale devices, which cater to the niche needs of an individual and generate vital stats are capturing the market. The heath industry is gradually evolving to incorporate these devices and provide services which are proactive in nature and create personalized Medicare for the client.

IoT helps decentralize Healthcare, and with the help of machine learning, wearable technologies, Real-time business analytics it provisions preemptive notifications to a mass client base. The massive amount of data generated by IoT and the Analytical skill required to process it is possible with architectures scalable at run-time provisioned by the Cloud. IoT on the Cloud provides the connectivity required for multiple devices to continuously collate data and the pace to segregate and refurbish it.

With the advent of newer technologies, the venues and means of delivery of Healthcare are evolving. Facilities even in distant dimensions of Healthcare will have to scale up their infrastructure to support and contribute to this cause.

There are several scenarios in which Technology professionals have stepped in and worked to provide breakthroughs even in the smallest parts that could assist a healthcare professional. Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 helped St. Joseph Health center facilitate faster and simpler access to their patient records. This not only enabled them to connect to their patients better but provide faster resolutions to their problems and provide them with more avenues for accessible healthcare.

Integrating information from multiple research institutes collaborating it through a single platform for deducing accurate, advanced and cumulative figures is a challenging task. St. Jude Children’s research Hospital collaborated with Microsoft and DNAnexus to provide a cloud computing platform for research and treatment of pediatric diseases. Microsoft Genomics is part of MS Healthcare Next initiative, powered by Microsoft’s AI and cloud computing.

Clarion has been assisting its clients to migrate to the cloud and using Cloud Computing solutions to enhance existing businesses. We have migrated the services of Physician-Hospital Organizations (PHO) from unstructured databases to Azure cloud. Healthcare Centers have been upgraded with Azure data factory, Azure blob storage and Azure Machine Learning. We have also designed custom modules for Organizations on the Cloud to broaden the client reach and provide predictive analytics.

If you are need of assistance from Experts on moving your Organization to the cloud feel free to reach out to us on info@clariontech.com.

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