- The healthcare sphere is increasingly a data-driven and interconnected system of information sharing ranging from patient electronic health records to cost and value metrics, clinical trial sets, readmission rates and even genomic sequencing. This is why healthcare cloud management solutions have become a more critical aspect to the healthcare IT space.
A 2014 EMC report indicated that the healthcare data space is growing at a rate of 48 percent per year, exceeding the 40 percent expansion across all of the digital realm. With such a diverse knowledge flow across the healthcare value chain from payers to providers and insurers, the need to securely coordinate and disseminate this information stream becomes critical.
And this issue goes well beyond the news-grabbing headlines associated with cyberattacks and data breaches, which in 2015 accounted for nearly 100 million records accessed by unauthorized parties. An integrated and enterprise-wide platform for information transmission is an essential element in developing an efficient and well-functioning network.
Understanding healthcare cloud infrastructure
This dynamic demands that healthcare participants, regardless of their place in the value chain, invest considerable capital spend on building a robust and highly operable IT architecture. For an increasing number of operations this means investments in cloud-based management systems.
A recent Dell study found that healthcare cloud application usage made a significant jump between 2014 and 2015. Specifically, cloud adoption increased from 25 percent in 2014 to 41 percent in 2015 in the healthcare field.
Cloud computing platforms provide a comprehensive solution-based approach for IT departments to manage their operating environment. In order to provide not just a secure environment for knowledge and data exchange, but an orderly, fast, effective and convenient one.
Cloud-enabled systems provide endpoint administration across an organization’s ecosystem. The upshot is that IT assets are accessible enterprise-wide without the cost and maintenance associated with traditional on-site server systems.
What are the healthcare cloud advantages?
The capabilities of cloud technologies are myriad and becoming more valuable in the healthcare industry and beyond. These competencies include:
- Discovery and Inventory Tools
- Software Distribution
- Software License Monitoring
- Discovery and Invoice Management
- Custom Dashboards and Reports
Perhaps there is no greater emphasis for IT departments than patching, which is the means to consistently maintain the operating environment and keep the technology up-to-date.
Patching is primarily centered on software updates impacting the devices and systems of an organization. This is one of IT departments most critical tasks, as the primary target of cyber criminals is unpatched vulnerabilities in apps and the OS. The risk is acute as the 2016 IBM Security Report, which covers 18 years of patches, indicates there are over 100,000 known vulnerabilities. That works out to around 5,000 a year per device.
Yet, according to the Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report, only four in 10 company IT departments have a coordinated patching strategy.
Cloud-based systems management tools provide a repeatable, efficient and scalable regime to handle the stream of updates from a diverse array of operating systems including: Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Java, Apple and third-party vendors.
What are the healthcare cloud security concerns?
Recently, a top IT professional at a leading California-based insurer indicated that patching was a significant reason for the switch away from a server-based environment to a cloud-based management system. He noted that endpoint servicing was an important concern, as was the elimination of a plethora of operating systems that were consolidated into cloud operations.
However, the wins do not stop there for healthcare.
Cloud-technologies are extremely useful to ensuring HIPAA compliance. Specific to PHI, cloud technologies allow for the more effective security, storage and maintenance of protected patient data via encryption, safeguarding measures and through reducing on-site risk profiles.
Given the propensity of healthcare related breaches, the cloud solution provides a far more substantial advancement in HIPAA cooperation. Further, the proprietary knowledge of healthcare actors is also far more secure.
The evolution of healthcare data
The advantages of cloud-based systems management tools are becoming almost ubiquitous in their acceptance and integration into the healthcare landscape. In fact, “92 percent of healthcare providers now and in the future see the value of cloud services for their organizations,” according to a 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey.
Unquestionably, the advantages of reliability access, speed, and security are unrivaled by the high cost and less effective alternatives of on-site assets.
As the healthcare space continues its evolution, expect that cloud-based systems management will be at the forefront of the innovation waves shaping the future of knowledge and information-sharing and communication.
Ashley Leonard is the president and CEO of Verismic Software. He founded Verismic in 2012 after successfully selling his former company, NetworkD, an infrastructure management software organization. Leonard currently manages U.S., Australian and European operations.