Tapping into the Cloud to Deliver Better Healthcare



Over the years, the Internet has become a viable backbone for virtualised technology, thanks to the many technological advances. Virtualisation has resulted in the evolution and genesis of a technology model that enables access to a shared pool of hosted applications, storage, and access to computing power via the web on an ‘on-demand’ basis. Across businesses including healthcare, cloud technology is affecting strategy and changing business models.


Thanks to cloud technology, large organisations are able to focus better. They are able to concentrate on managing their financial and human resources and on their core business. This helps them to avoid spending time and money on maintaining large data centres.


A transformational change is shaping the future by affecting the business value chain. This change is enabling of the healthcare and life sciences organisations to respond swiftly and appropriately to changes in demand patterns, at lower costs. In fact, cloud computing can provide between two to ten times the cost advantage of existing, traditional computing models.


A sustainable competitiveness can be built into organisations, provided they take steps to recognise and effectively manage cloud-related risks.


Cloud technology is impacting management of R&D and clinical trials as well as exchange of healthcare information. Cloud technology is increasingly becoming an important aspect of R&D because of the explosion of data from next generation sequencing, and the growing importance of biologics in the research process.


Some of the recent open source initiatives in life sciences have favoured the storage of complex genetic sequences and biomarker data in the cloud.


By employing the cloud, and technologies such as ‘Software-as-a-Service’ or SaaS, patient information is made available in real-time to doctors, nursing staff and support staff, without limitation to geography. In the event of natural disasters, access to vital patient information or medical images is easily available from anywhere using Internet-enabled devices, and without the need for a new software installation. Thanks to robust security infrastructure, patient information is not compromised.


So, what are the advantages of moving to the cloud?


Cost Savings. When cloud computing is employed, applications and services can safely run on commodity servers, which helps hospitals and other healthcare enterprises substantially reduce overhead costs by discarding or repurposing their most powerful servers.


Transition from CAPEX-intensive models. With minimal investments and lower start-up costs, cloud services provides companies and organisations the ability to move away from CAPEX-intensive deployments to a ‘pay-as-you-go’ regime. This transition results in savings that can be invested in necessary technologies and strategic innovation tools.


Agile, elastic and scalable infrastructure. When business growth experiences a sudden spike, the complete set of integrated resources can be quickly requested off the cloud and deployed as needed.


Security. Multiple types of predefined service-level agreements and compliance policies are available from cloud providers that address key data security concerns.


Stability. Cloud provides for dynamic resource allocation enabling migration of key information within the cloud on demand.


The India healthcare industry is slowly warming up to the cloud. While some of the key healthcare enterprises have started experimenting and moving to the cloud, the vast majority of the healthcare industry is still waiting. A majority of them use at least one cloud-based application, and are planning to move more applications to the cloud.