Cloud computing continues to be at the center of the modern IT landscape, facilitating deployments ranging from advanced unified communications and enterprise mobility to big data and telecommuting. In a relatively short period of time, the majority of IT spending has shifted away from traditional IT equipment or software and toward a range of novel investments that are based in cloud services in one way or another.
Certain industries have been more aggressive in their pursuits of cloud computing than others, while those organizations that have already been using the technology for a significant amount of time are enjoying some of the best results. Health care providers, both out of direct and indirect necessity, are among the most active in cloud deployments, especially because of the electronic medical record movement.
Digitized patient record utilization is no longer optional in the United States, as the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health Act demands that medical organizations meet meaningful use of electronic medical systems. For obvious reasons, the cloud has been a major driver of these deployments, with medical organizations pushing to expand their IT capabilities and make the most out of the data generated through digital patient-related frameworks.
However, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act is still very much in effect, meaning that health care providers must balance speedy deployments of new technologies with adequate controls and management capabilities in place. Again, the cloud serves as a helpful tool in meeting both the privacy and accessibility rules that are now in place for medical organizations, driving financial improvements and compliance check efficiency on a large scale.
Going back to the basics
The New York Times recently reported that cloud computing is expected to be the single most profitable arm of the IT sector in the coming years, citing research from IDC that found 90 percent of all new corporate investments in technology will be directed toward these services by 2016. Notably, the source stated that IDC also expects the global technology market to be worth $5 trillion annually at that time.
According to the news provider, one of the reasons why cloud services have become so ubiquitous is the vast benefits the technology has on various different scales. For example, The Times pointed to the sentiments of one small business owner based in the health care sector, which handles search volumes higher than many massive enterprises would have been responsible for in the past because it is powered by the cloud.
The vice president of this firm, Mark DePristo, told the source that he would have had to spend $1 million or so on IT to be able to power so many computers, servers and other solutions and equipment, but instead only needs to allocate about $25,000 a month. Processing power is becoming the operative strategic differentiator in the modern health care market, especially when the organizations involved are working on large-scale analysis and research activities.
As such, the cloud has stepped in to help businesses get more from less, all the while scaling their capabilities up over time in the most holistic fashion possible. The New York Times went on to note that the processing power that comes from pooling resources in the cloud computing era has yet to come close to peaking, and that there is still plenty of time before the technology reaches some form of plateau in the sense of innovation.
Operational performance improvements in health care
With all of these fundamental benefits in mind, it should not be surprising that health care providers are so well-suited to investing and using these technologies for modern operational needs. To maintain a modern and financially stable medical practice, decision-makers must ensure that they are getting the most out of every dollar spent, and considering how quickly the industry is becoming technology-centric, many of the opportunities to improve will be tied to IT.
As electronic medical record systems become more powerful and the tools used to access them reach even higher levels of agility and power, medical agencies will be tasked with ensuring that the IT and communications frameworks in place are ready to handle increased traffic and volume. At least today, there are few alternatives that compare to the cloud's ability to facilitate these activities while simultaneously improving spend-efficiency.
At the end of the day, the most successful health care providers will be the ones that are innovating patient-facing practices and maintaining secure, compliant and productive general everyday operations. With the cloud, IT will be freed up a bit more to focus on strategic oversight and planning rather than everyday configuration and maintenance, while employees and executives will enjoy greater access to the IT services they need most to accomplish their tasks.
Medical organizations can often become more secure, spend less time on strong compliance management and bolster employee engagement through services that are based in the cloud.