Cloud computing has made enormous strides in the healthcare industry in recent years. As of early 2023, 70% of IT professionals working in a healthcare setting say their organizations have made the decision to migrate to cloud computing and now rely on it as an integral part of business.
Considering the growing benefits facilities can leverage by adopting cloud-based solutions, it’s no wonder healthcare organizations across the globe are jumping on the cloud migration bandwagon.
In this blog, we’ll discuss why cloud computing is crucial for healthcare organizations as well as share best practices on how healthcare professionals should approach migrating to cloud computing.
What is Cloud Computing in Healthcare?
In healthcare, cloud computing solutions allow medical teams to serve their patients with less friction. They allow healthcare professionals to address patient concerns faster – and with greater accuracy, while efficiently managing growing volumes of patient data. It does all this while ensuring information remains secure, in a HIPAA-compliant environment.
Cloud computing is helping medical teams to:
- Securely share medical records easier and faster
- Automate backend operations including appointment and prescription reminders
- Manage financial reimbursements easier
- Automate populating lab results into patient files
- Optimize clinic revenue
- And more
Cloud computing is part of a health organization’s IT infrastructure. Its function is to store, move, process and access data from anywhere, as long as there is a stable internet connection. There are three primary cloud computing infrastructures used by healthcare companies and facilities. These are:
- On-premise cloud: This scenario requires facilities to own, house and maintain servers.
- Off-premise cloud: Facilities rely on third-party providers to manage and maintain servers on their behalf.
- Hybrid cloud: This is a blend of on-premise and off-premise and is common if a company has new cloud solutions as well as legacy infrastructure.
Source: Healthcare IT Today
Benefits of Cloud Computing for Healthcare Facilities
There are numerous benefits of migrating to the cloud for healthcare teams. Most importantly, though, is the way it’s making modern healthcare facilities work better.
Cloud computing is helping doctors, hospitals, and healthcare facilities serve patients, stakeholders, and organizational policies faster and with greater efficiency. It can do all of this without sacrificing quality of care.
A clearer view of its benefits includes:
- Lower IT infrastructure costs: Off-site cloud solutions allow you to let go of owning, operating, maintaining and managing physical infrastructure items such as servers and other hardware. It also reduces the need for internal IT support.
- Data storage scalability: Data storage is increasingly important in healthcare. With cloud solutions, facilities can easily scale their data storage capabilities easily while remaining compliant with HIPAA and other data protection regulations.
- Increased patient access to care: Telehealth solutions are cloud-based applications helping thousands of patients gain access to meaningful and timely care.
- Collaboration with other medical professionals: Patient files can be instantly shared with all members of their care team, helping physicians ensure more positive outcomes.
- Secured patient records and information: Physical records are fragile and can be easily damaged or destroyed. Storing medical records in the cloud ensures they remain safe at all times.
- Analyzing complex data faster: Sorting through medical records and test results by hand is no longer the best way to deliver exceptional and timely patient care. Cloud solutions bolstered with machine learning capabilities make diagnosis and care decisions faster, more accurate and efficient.
Facilities are seeing their patient workflows being streamlined, IT support and infrastructure costs are lowering and medical staff are gaining better, faster access to vital patient information when they need it.
Real-World Example of Cloud Computing Health Care Benefits
A real-world example of the way cloud computing is improving patient care is new options in the management of hypertension. Hypertension is a notoriously challenging condition to control and requires routine monitoring.
Before the cloud, to monitor a patient’s blood pressure a physician would require the patient to come in for numerous in-person visits. This is in addition to requiring the patient to monitor their blood pressure at home, record the results and share that information with their doctor at their next appointment.
Despite these efforts, less than 50% of patients with hypertension manage to maintain blood pressure within normal ranges. However, with cloud-based, remote blood pressure solutions, patients and physicians get a bird’s eye view into a patient’s blood pressure and are better able to manage hypertension.
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Migrating to Cloud Computing: 6 Steps to Follow
When migrating your healthcare organizations to the cloud, it’s important to truly understand your organization’s requirements, business goals, and what specific changes you’d like to see as a result of the migration.
Before embarking on a cloud migration, be sure to enlist the help of a cloud migration expert who specializes in healthcare IT. Cloud migrations are not easy, nor can they happen overnight; however, the benefits they provide will be worth the transition effort.
Step One: Choose Your Cloud Strategy
With the help of your migration expert, explore which of the following migration strategies will be right for your needs.
- Rehosting: A rehosting approach means moving your current applications and data from on-premise servers to third-party cloud servers. This eliminates the need for onsite hardware but doesn’t change or improve the functionality of your current IT set up.
- Re-platforming: Re-platforming means migrating from one cloud server provider to another. This could be from a private cloud to a public cloud and is generally done to improve outdated infrastructure solutions or to work with a better provider.
- Refactoring: This is a comprehensive approach that involves overhauling an organization’s infrastructure, integrations and capabilities in addition to moving data to a cloud-based server. It is a highly involved process and is common when replacing retired legacy solutions.
- Replace/Rebuild: End-of-life applications and solutions are tackled with a replace/rebuild cloud migration approach. This is generally used when in-house IT solutions are no longer supported or cannot be updated to meet a facility’s evolving needs.
Step Two: Assess Your Current IT Infrastructure
It’s critical to evaluate and assess your current IT infrastructure as the next step of your cloud migration. This will help you understand what infrastructure solutions are valued, which ones are cumbersome and identify what improvements you’d like to see.
Other factors such as budget, project timeline, stakeholder support and business goals should be assessed in this stage as well.
A healthcare cloud migration specialist can perform a professional, knowledgeable assessment and help you create a comprehensive and actionable migration plan.
Step Three: Select Your Cloud Provider
Choosing a cloud provider means choosing a partner who you can trust to respect and protect your organization’s delicate patient data and information in addition to providing excellent cloud services.
Look for providers that can support your chosen cloud infrastructure (private cloud, public cloud, hybrid, multi-cloud, IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, etc.) and have proven experience in serving the healthcare industry.
Be sure to select one that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and has the appropriate certifications to support their claim.
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Step Four: Outline Your Data Migration Plan
Once you have your strategy, provider, and project goals in-hand, it’s time to outline a solid migration and implementation plan.
This stage of any transition is critical for organizations to prevent project failure from occurring during the migration phase. Consult with your cloud migration expert to devise a plan that guarantees a successful cloud migration.
Include objectives to prevent project slippages, budget overages and ensure minimal disruptions occur during the migration phase.
Step Five: Implement and Test Your New Infrastructure
With a solid migration plan in place, now it’s time to execute your cloud migration with help from your cloud migration team.
Your cloud migration should be methodical and monitored carefully to maintain data integrity. Afterward, testing your new infrastructure is critical. Use this time to validate the new system, to test its performance and security, and ensure its new functionalities align with your intended goals.
It’s not unusual to encounter glitches during this stage. Be prepared to troubleshoot and refine as needed. Keep in mind that a successful migration isn’t just about shifting data to the cloud; it’s about ensuring your new infrastructure serves your healthcare needs optimally.
Step Six: Train Your Team
A robust cloud infrastructure is only as effective as the team managing it. This is why internal training after you’ve moved to the cloud is essential to ensure your migration transformation is a success.
Training will help your team understand the processes and nuances of the new system, how to navigate it efficiently, as well as how to troubleshoot potential issues.
If your in-house team isn’t able to deliver training, your cloud provider or migration expert can often assist with this. The goal is to have a confident, competent team, adept at leveraging your new cloud capabilities to optimize patient care and achieve your healthcare organization’s goals.
Migrate to Cloud Computing with Ease
ISOwire is an innovative leader in healthcare IT solutions. We help medical professionals alleviate cumbersome IT problems and streamline their operations by providing tailored, secure, and scalable cloud computing solutions.
With ISOwire, you’re not just migrating to the cloud; you’re unlocking new possibilities for patient care, data management, and operational efficiency.
Partner with us and experience a smooth transition that propels your healthcare services into the future, seamlessly blending technology with your goal of exemplary patient care.