COVID-19 has ignited a series of transformations in the healthcare sector. In a recent survey by McKinsey3 with more than 100 leaders from the industry, 90% agreed that the pandemic is fundamentally changing the way they do business, requiring new products, services, processes, and business models. According to Markets and Markets4, demand for cloud computing alone is expected to grow from US$28.1 billion in 2020 to US$64.7 billion by 2025.
Storing data remotely carries risks. The sector is closely monitored and scrutinised by governments. Over the last decade, the protection and handling of customer data has been specifically regulated in many countries across the globe. This has significantly impacted healthcare organisations in how they are adapting to the new demand and hampered change and innovation, particularly with regards to data. The way healthcare companies manage and secure their networks is critical.
There are a number of challenges when adopting a single and hybrid cloud architecture. One is network and security complexity, in terms of connecting to the cloud, and having consistency across clouds. Another key problem is visibility and troubleshooting, which includes the lack of monitoring and automated solutions by cloud providers. These issues are amplified by skill gaps of the healthcare personnel.
In Singapore, the healthcare sector is evolving rapidly in tandem with the needs of our ageing population and advances in medical sciences and technology. To meet these challenges, Singapore’s healthcare professionals have to continuously upgrade and equip themselves with these in-demand skills. During the Health Technology Assessment, for example, participants have to evaluate the relative value of new health technologies versus the standard of care based on current clinical and economic evidence to inform policy and clinical decision-making. Another in-demand skill set involves data analytics, which requires healthcare workers to utilise data to make fact-based decisions for healthcare service planning, patient/client management, and disease monitoring.
The widespread adoption in healthcare goes far beyond just storing data on cloud architecture. The sector is now leveraging the technology to gain efficiencies, optimise workflows, lower the costs associated with healthcare delivery, and offer personalisation in care plans to improve outcomes. A highly-orchestrated cloud networking platform saves money, as hospitals and healthcare providers don’t need to purchase the hardware and servers outrightly. With patient data flowing in not just in the form of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) but also through the plethora of healthcare apps and wearables, a cloud-based environment proves to be perfect for scaling and maintenance.
As healthcare moves to the cloud, more than basic networking and security is required. A good cloud solutions provider stores log records of all aspects of change management functions, which is a systematic approach to dealing with the transition or transformation of an organisation's goals, processes or technologies, as well as incidents for review and make it available for reporting.
It is important for businesses to leverage the benefits of cloud networking to accelerate their digital transformation processes. Some benefits of cloud networking include enabling the orchestration of data, applications and infrastructure across several cloud environments. It simplifies cloud deployment by connecting applications and workflow processes to quickly deliver business services.
Also, most organisations adopt a multi-cloud strategy to fully harness the power of the cloud by taking advantage of best-of-breed services. For instance, a healthcare provider might be using Amazon Web Services for its compute services and Oracle Cloud for its database solutions. Businesses have the freedom to use more than one cloud provider as their business and IT needs evolve, but will need to be able to orchestrate and interwork them efficiently.
All in all, with a multi-cloud strategy, businesses can mitigate risks associated with infrastructure meltdown or an attack. They can quickly move their data and applications to another cloud provider or use it as a backup for disaster recovery. Security features can also be implemented to ensure a robust risk management system that’s well integrated into the multi-cloud network.
Enabling telemedicine capabilities is another way how cloud is impacting healthcare. The combination of cloud computing with healthcare has the potential to improve telemedicine, post-hospitalisation care plans, and virtual medication adherence. It also improves access to healthcare services through telehealth. Telemedicine apps add the element of convenience to healthcare delivery while upgrading the patient experience5. Cloud-based telehealth systems and applications allow easy sharing of healthcare data, improve accessibility and provide healthcare coverage to the patients during the preventative, treatment as well as the recovery phase.
In Southeast Asia, both Singapore and Malaysia are at the forefront of utilising cloud as part of their ongoing healthcare digitalisation efforts due to the cost efficiencies and security benefits. Singapore launched the Healthcare-Cloud (H-Cloud) in 2019, which supports over 50,000 healthcare staff across the island-state. The H-Cloud allows public healthcare institutions to deploy application systems in a faster, cheaper, and greener way as compared to traditional methods.
Looking into the future, it is imperative that healthcare organisations not only adopt cloud technology, but also understand how to leverage it to accelerate digital transformation. Complexity is only set to increase in the sector, as new innovations and developments require new regulations and security guidelines. With an innovative and comprehensive cloud networking solution, healthcare enterprises can seize this opportunity today, to meet the needs of patients tomorrow.