Author: Solange Plebani, General Manager Connected Care Informatics and Head of Software Innovation Connected Care at Philips.
Healthcare’s digital transformation has encouraged patients to seek out more personalized experiences from their providers, forever changing the way healthcare organizations deliver care. But this evolution’s impact goes far beyond virtual visits – it’s driving organizations to find ways to use technology differently and identify new processes and care models, all in a cost-affordable way that puts the patient experience and outcomes first.
Data lies at the epicenter of this digital transformation. As data sharing becomes more pervasive and new models of care emerge, healthcare needs to pivot to be more predictive – with more care settings available for patients, there is a greater need for data to cross boundaries between systems. Looking across the healthcare landscape today, not all hospitals and healthcare organizations are yet equipped with IT infrastructures that can keep pace with this influx of informatics.
The adoption of platform-based IT models is on the rise. Six years from now, 30% of global economic activity is expected to be mediated by digital platforms, yet experts estimate only 3% of companies have adopted an effective platform strategy. Health systems are looking to improve operational and clinical efficiencies by creating shared infrastructures. Cloud-based solutions can securely break data silos and free up information that both the patient and provider can benefit from – whether it’s imaging or diagnostic data, data from patient monitors within the hospital, or from remote monitoring solutions beyond its four walls. These organizations need infrastructures that simplify and accelerate the adoption of innovation through a single cloud platform, which in turn allows them to integrate informatics applications that can be combined and scaled up or down according to emerging needs.
By pivoting from individual point solutions to a platform approach, health systems can liberate data from silos and connect it in a way that enables care teams to gain insights, take action and collaborate across a patient’s care journey.
Cloud-based platforms can help create cost savings
Financial pressures require healthcare organizations to find effective solutions to help them maximize existing resources and minimize costs. Instead of a traditional model where a hospital may purchase and own technology outright, an increasing amount of healthcare CIOs are considering the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model for their healthcare IT solutions.
SaaS models generally require a lower initial investment when it comes to adoption and can create a transparent total cost of ownership with the vendor, who can manage the complete life cycle and support services, identify optimization opportunities, enable continuous adoption of new innovation, and manage data. Cloud-based platforms built on SaaS can be centrally hosted on the servers of the service provider, alleviating the need for on-premises software solutions and offering organizations the financial flexibility to “pay as they go” with subscription-based models that allow organizations to predict costs.
The cloud reallocates time and energy from maintenance to innovation
With more care settings available for patients, and more data being gathered during a patient’s care journey, CIOs see a big opportunity to drive longitudinal insights from all of this data to help optimize care delivery. They’re actively looking for solutions that support more strategic goals, such as patient engagement programs.
Cloud solutions are care setting-agnostic, secure, and scalable and with the ability to effectively manage large amounts of data, it can change how much time organizations spend maintaining their IT infrastructure. Using cloud technology, hospitals can shift away from large, unpredictable hardware and software upgrades, to smaller, more incremental software updates with a more transparent total cost of ownership. By reducing the time spent on maintaining the lifecycle of infrastructure and software products, healthcare organizations can focus their staff less on data entry, and more on strategic new initiatives that drive innovation.
When it comes to choosing a cloud solution, healthcare providers will benefit most from technology that helps them visualize data in a user-friendly way, generate new operational and clinical insights from that data, and ensure those insights can be used to power confident clinical decision-making.
Cloud-based models offer an integrated and scalable health IT foundation
The cloud provides unprecedented scaling advantages. Cloud-based solutions offer healthcare providers the agility to modify their care delivery models, and share information with more flexibility, which is critical now that care is no longer only managed within the hospital. Every healthcare organization is different and has its own unique set of needs. Cloud adoption helps provide a scalable infrastructure that allows healthcare organizations to scale their IT deployments up or down according to care delivery needs. Last year for example, hospitals around the world needed to scale quickly to accommodate the increased strain on resources caused by COVID-19.
Cloud-based solutions also give CIOs an opportunity to achieve true integration, which can trickle down to positively impact the quality of care patients receive by helping to ensure patient data is accessible to physicians at the point of care. Hospitals and physicians today are collecting more data from patients than ever before, and from more places. Not only have virtual care services grown over the past year, shifting when and where patients receive care, but physicians now also have regular access to patient-generated data from items like smartwatches that share insightful data that helps inform a patient’s care. To make the most of this data, the platform in which it lives needs to be connected across the healthcare continuum, which has historically been challenging to achieve.
A SaaS model and advanced cloud capabilities can help healthcare organizations to deliver on the Quadruple Aim via a connected, protected, future-ready and predictable platform. Data-driven decisions can help healthcare professionals spot patterns, uncover insights, and help deliver a higher quality of patient care. Through patient-centric insights, workflow support, and consistent user experience across the health continuum, cloud solutions can provide a foundation to connected and integrated digital health.
Supporting health systems in their digital transformation
Healthcare’s digital future is here, but its transformation is not yet complete. Healthcare organizations need robust data-sharing infrastructures and connected technologies to work together to be successful. Outside of pure IT needs, CIOs and healthcare leaders are also facing the reality of rising healthcare costs, ever evolving data privacy and security concerns and growing burnout among their employees – all of which also need to be considered as new IT solutions are adopted.
The power of the cloud in healthcare is so much more than a new way to store health information – it’s also about enabling the right care, at the right place, in the right time. As time goes on, leaders in healthcare will increasingly need to rethink how they and their patients access and use data. Cloud-based solutions not only help enable faster and easier adoption of new capabilities, but also provide a secure, integrated and scalable foundation that supports a patient’s seamless journey across healthcare settings and can evolve to meet the changing needs of tomorrow.