The healthcare industry is no stranger to innovation. For as long as technology has existed, it has sought ways to create improvements in all areas of human life, especially in ones that have a direct impact on life itself. The processes and systems we use to detect illnesses, develop treatments, and manage health-related information are constantly being improved upon to respond to various drivers, from shifting consumer needs to stricter regulations, among others.
Cloud computing and technologies, in particular, have had a major impact on the industry: according to a West Monroe Partners report from 2019, 35% of the healthcare organizations they surveyed had migrated over 50% of their data and infrastructure to the cloud. The number demonstrates that the healthcare industry is one of the earliest adopters of cloud computing, as compared to other industries. Healthcare-related businesses are slowly but surely becoming more aware of the benefits of cloud computing, which include cutting down on operational expenses and being able to deliver more personalized, higher quality care to their customers.
In a post-COVID-19 world, cloud computing has become even more vital in delivering healthcare and healthcare-related services to a vast majority of the world. Here’s why:
Cloud Computing Bridges the Gap Between Customers and Insurance Providers
Claims processing and management are considered major bottlenecks in the healthcare lifecycle. Traditionally, customer satisfaction ratings for health insurance companies have been among the lowest across all industries, and at par with other poorly regarded industries such as airlines and cellular phone service providers.. Respondents were far from content with the quality of service they received from their health insurers, citing a distinct lack of timeliness and urgency when it came to claims payments as a major source of their dissatisfaction. The fact that both plan sponsors and individuals pay more for premiums as well as out-of-pocket costs than ever before only adds more fuel to the dissatisfaction fire. In simple terms, people simply don’t feel as satisfied with a customer experience that they get for the amount of money they’ve been spending.
A cloud-based health insurance platform can do a lot to improve the claims experience for the customer—without costing the health insurer too much. If anything, shifting to a cloud-based solution can help an insurance provider save money on administrative transactions alone. Cloud computing also opens the path towards automated claims adjudication and processing for insurers, which should help reduce the time necessary to complete these tasks and allow customers to receive their claims payments more promptly.
Cloud Computing Allows for Better Storage and Analysis of Medical Records
There’s a reason healthcare organizations are turning to the cloud for their data storage needs—it’s just better. In-house equipment may not be enough to store and manage the sheer volume of data from hundreds of thousands of customers that providers have to deal with on a daily basis, including information from electronic medical records, patient-initiated portals, and mobile apps. Meanwhile, cloud-based servers should be able to easily take that burden on.
Cloud technologies can also empower healthcare providers and other stakeholders to better analyze the data they’ve collected on their patients. This allows for a multitude of applications, from assessing the health status of the general population to creating more personalized care plans for individual patients. Analysis of this data can also be used to predict trends in disease on both an individual and group level, enabling healthcare providers to get ahead of potential public health crises before they occur.
Cloud Computing Streamlines Collaboration for Patient Care
When patients come in to receive healthcare, they often aren’t attended to by a single practitioner. More often than not, cases are handled by multiple members of a healthcare team, all of whom need access to that patient’s medical records. With cloud computing, collaboratively viewing and sharing these records is easier than ever. Instead of having separate files at each specialist they see, the patient may instead have a unified record that is accessible to their general practitioner, dentist, internist, and so on.
Cloud computing also makes documenting and sharing any changes to the patient’s health status much easier. Through the aforementioned unified record, all members of a patient’s care team can be notified of any new findings, lab results, diagnoses, and any recommended changes to their medication instantly. Physicians, nurses, and other team members will also be able to view the results of past interactions that the patient has had with other healthcare practitioners and formulate their next moves accordingly.
Cloud Computing is More Secure
Finally, with cloud computing, patient data is safer and more secure. Physical, paper records are intrinsically at risk of data theft or physical damage—they can easily be lost or completely destroyed, thus posing a very real threat to patient safety. With cloud computing, healthcare organizations can outsource their data storage and security to HIPAA-compliant service providers and keep their records at an off-site location, in addition to an on-site one should they so desire.
Making the transition to establishing one’s data foundation is the cloud is simply good sense. While some cost will be associated with it initially, the decision to implement cloud computing will pay for itself over time.