Cloud computing makes an impact in healthcare, patient data

October 7, 2014

Amid the several changes that healthcare in the United States has undergone in the last few years, cloud computing could prove to be among the most impactful. Many forward-looking healthcare providers have already started implementing cloud solutions in an effort to see how they can make healthcare more efficient and (hopefully) more affordable.

As access to healthcare widens, providers need to adapt and make their operations more agile and efficient. Using emerging cloud and other IT solutions will be one major step toward achieving that end. 

Patient data storage
One area where cloud computing stands to deliver the greatest benefits is in storing patient health data. Healthcare Global reported that one way healthcare providers will tap into the potential of cloud services is in the efficient storage of patient data. Despite security concerns, it is inevitable that massive amounts and diverse types of data that will be collected due to the increasing number of patients will eventually need to be stored somewhere.

Healthcare providers looking to improve efficiency and lower costs will feel the mounting pressure that comes with storing all of the data on their premises. Security in the cloud is far from perfect, but one could say the same about on-site data storage solutions as well. Healthcare Global noted that early movers have already migrated to the cloud and are reaping the benefits it brings. Providers who want to remain competitive will have to make that move.

Patient data analysis
Sharing patient data among all healthcare providers can be the impetus behind massive breakthroughs in how certain diseases are analyzed and treated. The Wall Street Journal reported that the sharing of data gleaned from 25 participants helped healthcare professionals track the progress of treatments for Parkinson's Disease. Data from each participant – 300 data points per second – was uploaded to a central server. The data obtained from these kinds of projects can help health workers better understand diagnoses, the results of certain treatments and the progression of the disease in a wide variety of patients.

Research into cancer treatments is also poised to benefit from patient data sharing through the cloud. The Washington Post reported that researchers at Johns Hopkins University are collaborating with Toshiba, a Tokyo-based technology company, to use analytics as a tool in cancer treatments.

"The two plan to use data analytics to compare individual patients to others with similar physical make-up and history, and, when appropriate, adjust treatment plans based on the outcomes of past patients," the report said.