Cloud computing has garnered attention in the healthcare industry as a primary way to achieve electronic medical records compliance while reducing IT costs. Cloud computing is all about DATA in a virtual work. With cloud network-based services, healthcare organizations can distribute computing over a network of real and virtual servers scalable to process large volumes of data without affecting application performance to the end user from a remote location. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) has served to incentivize healthcare IT professionals to roll out new electronic health records system and to digitize their practices and facilities. This will inevitably result in new market and consumer expectations of digital access to EHR as part of patient visit.
Cloud computing can yield many benefits to a healthcare organization and its business goals. An organization can maximize payments from Medicare/Medicaid and insurance through automated claims processing and EHR incentives. There can be patient practice efficiencies by making performance of daily EHR tasks faster and smarter. An organization can collect and provide access to patient records in digital format to and from multiple sources (i.e., smart phones and tablets, computers, wireless medical devices). Of course, an organization can cut cost of IT infrastructure and personnel by outsourcing. An organization further can become (or maintain) compliance with HIPAA and HITECH Act through privacy and security systems managed by experienced service providers. An organization can automate human resource requirements (i.e., training, certification) and e-learning (i.e., online education. An organization can update communications (i.e., conferencing, email) between physicians, staff and patients. Lastly, an organization can integrate disparate information systems and data exchange among different applications and platforms (legacy systems) using cloud-based applications.
Cloud computing also is the key to exploitation of Big Data. An organization will be able to collect and store large volume of data in centralized or cloud data center for use across multiple applications by multiple computers or devices, and then use applications and software analytical tools written by developers to scale and mine Big Data. This affords opportunities for better planning and more efficient use of healthcare resources and facilities through Big Data R&D and analytics.
Given the estimated 40% annual growth of patient data with medical data expected to be 70% of all data usage by 2020, cloud computing is rapidly becoming an essential part of the IT landscape for all health care organizations.