The future of healthcare is in the cloud, but is it public, private or both

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By Thawipong Anotaisinthawee, Country Manager, Nutanix (Thailand)

Technology adoption in healthcare has been historically slow compared to other industries, mostly due to its highly regulated nature. For a long time, cloud adoption was no different. However, a recent study by Nutanix predicts healthcare cloud adoption will rise from 27 per cent to 51 per cent in the next three years. The growth will be spurred on by public, private, and hybrid multicloud solutions which open the gate for clinical and non-clinical applications beyond traditional data management.

Throughout the pandemic, digital healthcare delivery increased. Providers required intelligent, scalable, and secure solutions to support their response to the public health emergency and maintain patient engagement. Health providers were required to track patients’ infection rates, manage vaccinations, and tackle a multitude of overly clinical tasks. Consequently, the amount of data produced has never been greater. This requires increasingly sophisticated collection methods and analysis – much of which has occurred in the cloud.

Healthcare providers are also finding new non-clinical applications for the cloud, such as resource planning and supply chain management. However, as the applications and benefits of the cloud become more apparent, where should these organisations look to invest? 

Clinical cloud benefits

Although the hybrid multicloud is the most popular IT architecture worldwide, the 2022 Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index survey found that 30 per cent of healthcare respondents preferred the private cloud as their preferred IT model. The majority (70 per cent) cite security and privacy requirements as being the main obstacles to adopting other forms of cloud, limiting many to private cloud solutions.

However, the public cloud offers numerous benefits that should not be overlooked. Predictive and reactive real-time analytics have become vital tools for healthcare providers, especially as more data is created and stored. Additionally, patient and healthcare devices generate vast amounts of medical data in many different languages. Such information is often spread across multiple electronic health record instances, inhibiting holistic insights. The public cloud allows providers to easily consolidate and manage incoming data from multiple sources before migrating more sensitive information to a secure environment.

When considering cloud solutions in healthcare, it will be key to address the main concerns providers have, from interoperability, security, and cost to data integration. Enter hybrid multicloud which enables providers to use private and public clouds.  Patients want to know their providers can quickly access data to make sound decisions about their care, and providers require easier access to more patient information and data about their facilities and organisations. With the right mix of private and public clouds in a hybrid multicloud environment, organisations can achieve both.

Security must be considered

When managing sensitive data, security and privacy must remain a priority. Some healthcare organisations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on perimeter and internal endpoint security, which is managed by cloud-based solutions. Especially with the healthcare cloud computing market is expected to hit $128.19 billion by 2028, with an almost 20 per cent CAGR through 2028, security will continue to be top of mind.

Operating through a hybrid multicloud environment means providers can respond much faster than with on-premises infrastructure that could potentially be compromised. The security posture of major cloud providers has been proven to be as good as or better than most enterprise data centres.  Hybrid multicloud also allows providers to implement information air gaps, securing sensitive data or backups in a separate, disconnected environment. This would limit intruder access to critical information and increase the chance of a full recovery following an attack.

Hybrid multicloud environments give providers the best of both worlds, allowing organisations to maintain a cloud environment that enables a combination of security and cost savings at the same time. The most security-focused data and workloads are kept in private clouds while running regular data and apps in cost-effective public cloud networks.

Flexibility, scalability, and the patient experience

The increased need for flexible solutions continues to impact IT decisions. Health providers need infrastructure that allows them to move data between environments more seamlessly. Cloud computing allows businesses to be more flexible – both in and out of the workplace and across multiple data environments. This level of flexibility helps improve the speed at which practitioners can work and deliver care, therefore improving the patient experience

Hybrid multicloud is here to stay, but numerous challenges remain as regulations drive many healthcare organisations’ IT deployment decisions. Despite this, the past two years have influenced healthcare organisations to accelerate – among other innovations – telehealth adoption, allowing them to see more patients safely, scale operations rapidly, and recognise the benefit digital and cloud services can have on patient engagement.

As digital services continue to grow in complexity, patients and providers require easier access, control over, and visibility of their data to improve business outcomes and patient care. By investing in both private and public clouds in a hybrid multicloud environment, providers can achieve this, leveraging the efficiency of the public cloud alongside the security and control that private clouds can deliver.

How Thailand’s healthcare industry is embracing new technologies

Songkhlanagarind Hospital, a leader in delivering medical services to 14 southern provinces, is proof that Thailand has continually implemented innovative medical and public health technology for a very prolonged period. Using Nutanix technology, the hospital has enabled the medical staff to give medical consultations utilizing their mobile devices to view information on its Intranet, effectively allowing access to the HIS application and patient medical records from anywhere, at any time.

In the overall scheme of the nation, the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand offers various applications, including for health care and Covid-19. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) has cooperated with the private sector to provide telemedicine services via various applications. 

As the Covid-19 situation has become better, the Thai Ministry of Public Health has upgraded “Doctor Ready (Morprompt)”, a central database platform for storing COVID-19 vaccination information for over 32 million people, to be a digital health platform that Thai citizens can utilize to access services more efficiently with incorporating new capabilities including telemedicine. Furthermore, the back-office system has been developed to link all health care units to information and electronic transaction security following international standards. In addition, there is cooperation from many parties to build a system for using cloud-based digital health information per medical and public health standards. The collaboration demonstrates that both public and private sectors in this industry will continue to adopt cutting-edge technologies, including cloud computing, to enhance the efficiency of the healthcare industry for tomorrow.

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