According to Gartner, healthcare providers "will increasingly adopt cloud services to keep pace with the IT infrastructure, system and support requirements of the real-time healthcare system, and to remain competitive in an industry that is under unprecedented pressure to transform itself."
The healthcare industry is in great need of a new treatment. The question is: why?
Stuck in the waiting room
In many industries, businesses are realising how cloud implementation could benefit their operations and customer services. These companies are making the strategic leap into the digital world, reaping the rewards of greater efficiency, productivity, and a more satisfactory employee experience. Bluewolf’s recent report highlighted how 75% of respondents believe that cloud solutions, such as Salesforce, make it easier to do their jobs.
However, whilst organisations in other industries began implementing cloud technology to maximise their operations potential, the healthcare industry found itself sat in the waiting room. The main issue has not been a lack of understanding or desire to adopt cloud services. Instead the healthcare industry has struggled with identifying a cloud platform that not only alleviates the industry’s complicated data demands, but also puts the patient first and fosters their relationship with healthcare staff.
The level of involvement from patients in their own healthcare also needs to be taken into account – patients are looking to have more input in their care and seeking digital solutions as the key to making this happen. This point has not been missed by the NHS, a key player in the UK healthcare ecosystem; Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, recently commented that the NHS "is in in a global race to put patients in the driving seat of their own healthcare, and digital is fundamental to achieving that." Patients are envisioning technology that could provide them with more autonomy over their healthcare, such as viewing and selecting providers, reviewing test results and feedback from doctors, and ultimately changing the way their health is assessed and communicated with healthcare professionals (HCPs).
The ‘patient-centric’ approach
Demand for such technology is finally being met. Salesforce recently introduced a ‘Health Cloud’ solution which is the first patient-centric system created specifically for the health services industry. This solution is a "patient relationship platform" which gathers and integrates data from all members of the patient ecosystem, including public and private HCPs, companies that provide health services and products, and the patients themselves.
This kind of technology will be transformative to both patients and their families, and the organisations that provide healthcare services, products, and research. To give patients the transparency they’re demanding, HCPs will be able to leverage technology like Health Cloud to access and interact with patient data. Healthcare companies will be able to provide patients with diagnoses, drugs, and treatments in a more personalised, efficient manner. On the flipside, patients will have easier access to this data and better communication with their HCPs, and ultimately feel more in control of their health and recovery.
Easing the pain
Leading cloud platforms have the ability to amass and analyse data into a single interface. Expect the next wave of healthcare cloud solutions to be no different; the benefits of such a perk to a data-heavy industry are obvious; patients and HCPs would have access to a central source of all data related to the treatments, details of the patient journey, and patient data. This will allow for a consistent, quality relationship between the patient and all of the professionals and healthcare companies involved in their treatment.
Furthermore, patients can now gain more control over their journey and contribute to their own health data. They can sync wearable devices like fitness trackers, add notes on their reaction to a medication, and provide updates on recovery through the Health Cloud platform. Patients are the most reliable source for the generation of their health data; allowing the patient to participate increases the value of care the patient receives because HCPs can now base decisions on more well-informed data. This level of input from patients will also vastly improve the employee experience of HCPs who will be able to operate with more efficiency, using time normally spent dealing with data more effectively elsewhere.
HCPs will also be able to check on a patient’s status, track their diagnoses data, and communicate with them between appointments. When a patient does visit, the records of their interactions with that particular HCP (or others) are all integrated into their patient journey timeline. This creates a holistic view of the patient through the treatment stages and throughout the patient’s life.
Whilst all of these new developments in healthcare cloud technology may sound highly attractive for many organisations in the ecosystem, they still need to proceed with care. Data security has long been a primary concern in this industry. With the recent update to the EU-US Safe Harbor Framework, which affects how data is stored and shared between Europe and the United States, healthcare companies may feel they have more to worry about when implementing cloud technology.
These worries could and should be alleviated. When it comes to compliance, while the best cloud service providers will act in the best interest of their customers and ensure they’re following the letter of the law, it’s important for companies to address all matters of concern before proceeding with any implementation. Patient access to the right healthcare providers regardless of location, a secure, centralised hub for all patient records, a more agile network; all of these advantages can become a reality through the cloud. In an increasingly digital world, those that chose not to adopt a cloud strategy risk increasing process inefficiencies, decreasing provider engagement, and the worst case scenario: creating a negative, and unrecoverable, patient experience.
Health Cloud marks the start of significant opportunities to enhance patient engagement for the entire ecosystem, and has the ability to change healthcare services as we know it. Fostering a more collective input through the entire patient journey leads to better patient experiences, and ultimately to more successful patient recoveries.