The health care industry was long overdue for a technological overhaul. Today's health organizations have found themselves curating massive stockpiles of data and dealing with a wide variety of pressures – among them cybersecurity, compliance with HIPAA and other regulations, and of course, providing fast access to medical records for doctors and nurses who need it.
"The health sector has spent years looking for a new way of doing things."
Simply put, the old infrastructure wasn't working anymore. Saving files locally, at the desks of hospital administrators and insurance brokers, lacked the efficiency that modern medicine demanded. As such, the health sector has spent years looking for a new way of doing things.
Fortunately, the advantages of cloud computing were a perfect fit for the industry's needs. For a sector that needed a new infrastructure, the solution was Infrastructure as a Service. By working with cloud IaaS providers on a daily basis, health organizations can address their needs quickly and securely.
This realization is dawning on countless IT leaders in the industry, and the financial impact is adding up, according to Healthcare Dive. The news source recently reported on a MarketsandMarkets study which predicted massive growth ahead for health care cloud computing – while the sector is only worth a total of $3.73 billion today, that figure should balloon to $9.48 billion by 2020.
How is this happening? What's driving it? Read on.
New demands pushing IT innovation forward
It wasn't possible for health care IT to continue operating this decade the same way it did in the 2000s. Missy Krasner, managing director for health care life sciences at cloud storage startup Box, told Healthcare Dive that new tech demands were shaping the market. Interoperability, payment reform, mobile data access and security were among the key factors that necessitated a change.
"Because health care is so in need of better interoperability and better connections, they need to figure out a better way to communicate outside of their firewalls with all the people they do business with every single day," Krasner explained. "That's really hard to do if your data are locked on-prem in servers."
The cloud was a natural fit. It offers health care organizations the perfect balance between control and cost-effectiveness.
Why now, exactly?
But why now, in 2015 precisely? Why is this explosion happening at this very moment, rather than five years earlier or five later? According to Krasner, the rapid cloud growth between 2015 and 2020 is the result of a "data explosion" – there are just too many files now to manage them any other way.
"If it's all in separate enterprise silos such as EHRs, billing and registration systems, it's difficult to do an analysis," she said. "Doing it in the cloud allows for one platform and one security model, and immediate access to start doing things with the data."
Don't forget disaster recovery
Of course, the other variable to consider here is disaster recovery. Every health care organization needs to think about this constantly – what happens if a catastrophic incident – either a natural disaster like a hurricane, or an in-house tech malfunction – threatens your data?
The answer is you need to have a backup plan ready, and indeed, that's where the cloud comes in. By managing DR in the cloud, health care organizations can minimize downtime and maximize access to vital data that can help save patients' lives.