A growing number of hospitals and medical centers are now using cloud computing solutions to store confidential health data to cut costs and to ensure seamless integration.
From having just a 4% rate of adoption in this industry, it is now growing at a robust 20% annually. Dell says hospitals are realizing that the advantages of the cloud far exceed some perceived shortcomings.
The healthcare sector has been slow in adopting the cloud compared to other IT solutions because of concerns regarding:
- Privacy of personal health information
- Cost considerations
However, the portability of health information from using mobile phones, handheld devices and wearables requires a health IT cloud solution from which patients and health professionals can collaborate easier and quicker.
Physical distance is no longer a problem since all data can be retrieved, analyzed and exchanged via the cloud.
Pressure to convert to electronic medical records (EMR) and to comply with government mandated implementation such as Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) have also pushed health organizations to hasten adoption of cloud computing, among other health IT platforms.
Dell says the scalability of cloud storage also make them a viable alternative to legacy systems, many of which are still in use by hospitals and physicians.
The service is being provided by Dell and Siemens, who will store some 1.6 million radiology files and 350,000 cardiology files in their data centers every year for the hospital group for the next five years.
By working with an external partner, Dell says Intermountain has lowered infrastructure costs while freeing up its in-house health IT staff to concentrate in more direct, clinical IT support services inside the hospitals.
The move also allows them to concentrate in innovating smaller but critical projects that impact direct patient care instead of wasting hours addressing downtimes.
Cloud computing programs are not exclusive to large metropolitan hospitals but also to smaller facilities according to Dell.
It cites the example of West Park Hospital, a small, acute care facility in Wyoming, which deployed Dell's MEDITECH cloud environment to handle its data.
As a result, Dell claims that the hospital's once-regular system downtime experiences are now a thing of the past.
Storing and sorting through confidential data is still the biggest concern of medical organizations.
However, Dell says facilities are beginning to trust cloud platforms as these systems show they are compliant with HIPAA. Moreover, data in cloud storage employs encryption and other security measures to ensure data is held properly.
As more portable devices increase in use among patients and within the clinical environment, Dell says that cloud computing is a fast and secure repository of electronic medical records and will be a key component of digital health strategies in the future.
According to a Kalorama report, the global market for cloud computing in the health IT sector amounted to $3.9 billion in 2013, a 21.1% increase over the previous year.
Another report says cloud computing will demonstrate even faster growth in the coming years.