There can be little doubt that when it comes to dealing with the complexities of providing access to and protecting a growing amount of confidential data the healthcare industries and ecosystems are right at the top of vertical markets in terms of the challenges faced. Indeed, whether it is dealing with consumer demands for more access to their information in real-time, invoicing and online payments, expanding telemedicine interactions, meeting corporate governance and regulatory mandates, etc., healthcare IT professionals have their hands more than full. This extends to physicians and other care providers as well who in a connected world need to have as much of their business processes automated and secured so they can focus their attention on job #1, providing great patient care.
Interestingly, as the explosion of information and requirements for its handling explodes exponentially with no end in sight healthcare ecosystems, particularly those anchored by large enterprises, are looking rightfully more and more to the cloud to optimize their ability to deliver optimal customer experiences, reduce costs, provide better care and better protect all of that confidential data.
In fact, this subject is detailed in a recent blog, Healthcare needs the cloud, by Brendan Ziolo, Head of Large Enterprise Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert). As Ziolo explains, “Unlike many other sectors, in healthcare the stakes associated with IT performance are as high as they can get. Technology must be reliable and work quickly when life or death is the outcome. Along with this unique obligation, in order for healthcare IT to be successful it must also meet other key requirements. “
He enumerates these requirements as follows:
- Enhanced data security. Any IT solution must be extremely secure. However, in healthcare particularly, there are strict privacy and security policies that must be adhered to, as health data is extremely sensitive.
- Multi-site support. An entire healthcare ecosystem usually involves multiple hospitals, labs and clinics meaning that data must be instantly available at all locations.
- Multi-vendor support. Healthcare IT needs to be able to integrate a full range of communication and collaboration services with existing network gear and servers to optimize speed and reliability.
- Data viewability and portability. Everything from lab results to terabyte MRI files need to be shared between hospitals quickly and reliably.
Enter the cloud. In fact, what Ziolo points to is not the cloud in general, where skepticism remains for healthcare providers using public clouds, but specifically the private cloud which, “they can benefit from the openness and agility of the cloud while minimizing the risks…a private cloud has the power to reshape healthcare IT.”
A look at the context for why the cloud and healthcare going forward are in many ways perfect together is useful. As the blog cites, the researchers at IDC (News - Alert) estimates that by 2020, 80 percent of healthcare data will “pass through the cloud at some point in its lifetime, as providers seek to leverage cloud-based technologies and infrastructure for data collection, aggregation, analytics and decision making.”
In short, for all of the reasons relating to the bullet points above, private cloud-based services provide an “E”vironment that addresses them all. Consumers get the access they need regardless of device used to their data and tools for interacting with their providers, while IT gets the reach, visibility, control, security and compliance they require to best support their organization and its partners.
For more details about healthcare and the cloud, Alcatel-Lucent has a new whitepaper “Healthcare needs the cloud – today”, which explains in detail why this is a very (pardon the play on words) healthy approach to providing great outcomes for patients and providers alike going forward.
Edited by Maurice Nagle