Modern technologies are making it easier for human beings to pursue numerous goals. The Internet is one of these innovations that have transformed a wide range of activities. The invention has led to the concept of cloud computing. Fernandez et al. define cloud computing as a paradigm in the world of information technology whereby firms and users can access shared resources without implementing their managerial strategies (381). The purpose of this document is to analyze and describe the opportunities and challenges of cloud computing on the healthcare industry.
Main Findings: Cloud Computing and the Healthcare Sector
Just like any other industry, the healthcare sector is influenced by changes in demand of services and supply. These alterations in the industry are believed to catalyze the use of information technology (IT) to maximize the health outcomes of more populations (Hsieh et al. 6137). Experts in the sector are focusing on the best approaches to maximize the benefits of cloud computing. Specific trends such as aging populations, emerging illnesses, terminal conditions, and technological developments are influencing the manner in which healthcare services are delivered. The increasing level of demand for healthcare resources has made it impossible for physicians and practitioners to meet the needs of more patients.
These issues have forced many players in the industry to focus on the power of digital options (Fernandez et al. 389). There is also need to invest in superior technologies that can improve the nature of service delivery. Data integration and use of comparative analyses tools are becoming common. More practitioners are in need of medical knowledge and evidence-based concepts to improve service delivery. These factors explain why cloud computing has emerged as the best model for different players in the healthcare industry to minimize costs, increase efficiency, and promote effectiveness (Hsieh et al. 6139). The opportunities of cloud computing to the industry are presented below.
Cloud computing is a model whereby users pay depending on the services utilized. This presents a unique operating expense that can be managed or measured by different subscribers. The technology is essential for healthcare institutions because it can help reduce costs without disorienting the quality of services available to different people. This is the case because cost flexibility can be monitored frequently. Additionally, organizations in the industry have been required to hire competent IT specialists and purchase complex equipment (Hsieh et al. 6141). These resources are associated with cloud computing, thereby making it easier for such facilities to minimize their operational costs.
Many institutions that use localized IT infrastructure must maintain them to minimize chances of infiltration. This is a process that might result in increased expenditures while at the same time disorienting the level of security. Cloud computing becomes a new opportunity for healthcare firms that require privacy and security for data and systems (Sultan 179). This is the case because cloud computing systems are usually maintained and monitored by competent professionals.
There is an emerging trend whereby physicians can exchange ideas, medical files, and patient information. The process can be impossible when these professionals are in different geographical regions. Cloud computing is capable of bridging this gap. It makes it easier for physicians and institutions to share information in a secure manner (Sultan 179). The use of protocols guides physicians and IT experts to connect different systems. Hospitals that operate different branches will be able to link their services through the use cloud computing.
Innovation is an important function of every industry. In the healthcare sector, innovation is being undertaken to produce superior devices and clinical guidelines that can result in improved care (Fernandez et al. 398). The power of cloud computing has the potential to support the process of innovation. Cloud services encourage sharing and access of data or applications. This procedure is capable of promoting innovation in the future.
The healthcare industry is attracting different players such as payers, insurance firms, caregivers, physicians, and IT specialists. With the utilization of cloud computing, these stakeholders can communicate efficiently, share information, and ensure quality services are available to the largest number of people (Hsieh et al. 6142). The created ecosystem encourages sharing of resources and information, thereby empowering more healthcare organizations.
Cloud computing presents various capabilities to the subscribers. This presents a functional opportunity whereby different professionals to engage in lifelong learning and acquire new competencies that can be adopted to come up with advanced care delivery plans (Sultan 182). This opportunity should be considered by medical institutions that want to deliver high-quality services to more patients. Experts also argue that the capabilities of cloud services can result in improved diagnoses, better care delivery systems, and optimized health operations. These opportunities should be considered in an attempt to improve the health outcomes of deferent people.
As more healthcare institutions continue to analyze the opportunities of cloud computing, experts have been keen to outline specific challenges that will be encountered by those who plan to utilize the idea. The first impediment that cannot be underestimated is that of security (Hsieh et al. 6142). Healthcare organizations acquire sensitize data from their respective patients and stakeholders. The use of cloud computing can threaten confidential data due to increased cases of phishing and hacking.
The stability of a given vendor presents a nightmare to different subscribers. The move to identify a specific vendor becomes a huge gamble. When the service providers are out business, the healthcare institution will definitely be affected. This is the reason why a healthcare firm should be keen to identify a reputable vendor before making a final decision (Griebel et al. 3).
The issue of compatibility is an obstacle that affects many hospitals. This happens to be the case because healthcare institutions tend to have unique needs that might not ignored by different vendors. This challenge explains why different hospitals are yet to embrace the benefits and opportunities of cloud computing. Hospitals that are planning to adopt cloud computing models will be required to hire competent individuals who can sync the targeted services with their respective demands (Elgamal et al. 205). This development will increase the costs incurred by the facilities. Since many healthcare professionals do not have adequate IT skills, it becomes hard for medical institutions to embrace the idea of cloud computing.
The above findings reveal that cloud computing is a field that presents numerous opportunities for the healthcare industry. The strategy makes it easier for hospitals to minimize operational costs, deliver superior services, and engage in innovation (Griebel et al. 3). Concerns such as security and privacy are usually addressed by most of the vendors in the sector.
Hospitals that embrace the technology reduce most of the time and expenses incurred whenever managing localized systems. Healthcare professionals are empowered to share resources and ideas with other professionals in an attempt to maximize service delivery. The changing trends in the sector will continue to encourage more players in the sector to consider these opportunities. Consequently, more hospitals will be able to deliver desirable medical support to their patients (Elgamal et al. 204). A hospital without enough workers can use the technology to maximize service delivery.
However, the study has indicated that cloud services present numerous obstacles that must be addressed. For instance, healthcare institutions must conduct extensive audits before settling on a given vendor due to the issue of security. Vendors who are reputable should be considered since instability is a major challenge. Devadass et al. indicate that most of the available cloud services are incompatible with the needs of the healthcare sector (28). Researchers and providers should conduct more studies in an attempt to support diverse healthcare systems. It will be appropriate for medical institutions to train their employees before embracing this technology (Devadass et al. 29).
Although many industries have adopted various cloud-based services, the healthcare sector still lags behind due to the challenges associated with the development. Incidentally, cloud services present numerous opportunities that can be considered to minimize costs, improve care delivery, and foster innovation. With this kind of knowledge, the players in the industry must identify new strategies to deal with the challenges arising from the utilization of cloud computing. This process will ensure more staff members are trained and empowered to embrace the power of cloud computing solutions. Consequently, such healthcare institutions will realize the full benefits of cloud computing.
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Elgamal, Fatma E, et al. “A Trust Management Scheme for Sharing Secure Medical Images over Cloud Computing Environment.” Journal of Advances in Computer Network, vol. 1, no. 3, 2013, pp. 201-207.
Fernandez, Alberto, et al. “Big Data with Cloud Computing: An Insight on the Computing Environment, MapReduce, and Programming Frameworks.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, vol. 4, no. 5, 2014, pp. 380-409.
Griebel, Lena, et al. “A Scoping Review of Cloud Computing in Healthcare.” BMC Medical Informatics and Decision-Making, vol. 15, no. 17, 2015, pp. 1-7.
Hsieh, Jui-Chien, et al. “Mobile, Cloud, and Big Data Computing: Contributions, Challenges, and New Directions in Telecardiology.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 10, 2013, pp. 6131-6153.
Sultan, Nabil. “Making Use of Cloud Computing for Healthcare Provision: Opportunities and Challenges.” International Journal of Information Management, vol. 34, no. 2, 2014, pp. 177-184.