As an intensely competitive and dynamic market, the healthcare industry is looking to cloud computing as a means to improve the quality of services while reducing costs, according to Frost & Sullivan. Specifically, the mature healthcare IT market needs a solution to grow revenues. The workflows are being streamlined and made accurate by solutions such as picture archiving and communication systems, radiology information systems, healthcare information systems, and clinical information systems. Despite this, the market needs solutions that integrate these technologies, enabling all relevant patient and imaging data to be available at one spot and yet accessible across various locations. This type of enterprise-wide data sharing can help healthcare service providers increase efficiency at nominal expenditure.
Cloud computing is quickly expanding into a key enabler for enterprise-wide solutions. The appropriate implementation of cloud computing technologies can aid European healthcare providers improve the quality of medical services and the efficiency of operations, share information across geographic locations, and manage expenditures. The concept can be applied in a variety of ways, including data storage and data loss prevention, maintaining patient information records, and authorized sharing of information. For instance, recorded patient information may need to be shared beyond hospital boundaries during an emergency where time is a crucial factor. This can be done quickly and efficiently by providing authorized access to this information on the cloud.
“Healthcare IT market in Europe has been defined as mature, indicating high installed base and increasing level of market saturation,” says Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Analyst Raghuraman Madanagopal. “With countries in Western Europe already having a PACS market penetration of about 70 percent, the market is mostly driven by replacement of legacy systems and associated services and upgrades.”
Risk of data loss is also a major concern for most healthcare providers, as it has a crucial impact on the operational efficiency of hospitals. Cloud computing provides extra safety in reducing the risk of data loss, by regularly upgrading itself and improving protection standards. Upgrades occur without any downtime and real time access is not impacted by this, therefore ensuring the 24/7 accessibility required by healthcare providers.
“With most of the European market being driven by replacements, and an increasing demand for enterprise wide solutions and remote access of patient data across locations, cloud computing provides healthcare institutions with an opportunity to meet these needs,” Madanagopal told Med Ad News Daily. “Globally, it is expected that the market for cloud computing in healthcare is expected to grow at a CAGR range of 18 percent to 20 percent over the next 7 years. The trend is expected to be slightly lower in Europe owing to the effects of the Eurozone crisis and different priorities across European nations, but, as the freedom to invest improves for the hospitals, cloud computing is expected to grow on the similar lines in Europe.”
Cloud computing implementation is, however, in its early stages, and there are still a few restraining factors such as security and compliance concerns, shortage of qualified personnel to shift data from hardware to the cloud, and poor broadband penetration or low internet speeds in many parts of Europe.
“The most important restraining factor is the risk it poses to data protection,” Madanagopal told Med Ad News Daily. “Though cloud providers are coming up with innovative solutions that guarantee data protection, the acceptance for the technology in some countries is still bleak. With implementation of SaaS service and other services that provide access to data only to authorized personnel, the fear of unauthorized leak of data can be wiped out. A better awareness needs to be created among users regarding various compliance and security regulations to help a smooth implementation of cloud computing.”
In addition, Madanagopal also says, “Another major restraining factor is the shortage of trained/qualified personnel who can work with cloud as a mode of data storage. As cloud computing begins to be implemented, technical training must be provided to hospital personnel to make best utilization of the technology to gain maximum benefits.”
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