By Scott Megill
The U.S. healthcare industry is undergoing a major transformation as it prepares for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For many organizations, one answer to the disruptive shift in how patient information is delivered and shared is cloud computing.
The U.S. spends over two and a half times more on healthcare per person than most developed nations in the world. To make healthcare affordable, though, the Federal government envisions cost savings through automation, information sharing, and embracing a new level of intelligence to improve patient care – going well beyond the current state of paperless clinics and digital record-sharing between providers.
In fact, the cloud computing market within the healthcare industry is expected to hit $5.4 billion by 2017 due to incentives and requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a report from research firm MarketsandMarkets.
Starting October 1, the most central aspect of the Act requires all Americans to get signed up for health insurance. Health insurance marketplaces across the country will be opening themselves up to enrollment with coverage effective January 1, 2014 where individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through online exchanges.
For healthcare providers, though, this means more medical records to deal with. With more patients potentially entering the system, the number of patient medical and history records will rapidly soar. These records need to be stored, organized, analyzed, and instantly accessible for medical researchers, physicians and healthcare insurance providers — all at minimum administrative costs. This is where open cloud technology – providing the needed interoperability, collaboration, transparency and most importantly, the security – comes to the rescue.
Through the open cloud, healthcare information is easily and instantly delivered from physician to insurance company. This is done without healthcare organizations squandering resources and investing in the installation of complicated technology infrastructure and security breaches, as cloud providers will be required to comply with many privacy standards such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) before they can extend their services.
Fueling this migration is the growing popularity of smartphones and iPad devices, which will only accelerate the embrace of the cloud structure in healthcare and allow healthcare professionals and patients to easily tap into the cloud to access important files and data or use mobile apps to educate patients on their condition, lifestyle changes and prescription information.
Furthermore, the current state of digitizing records to eliminate copious paperwork and reduce medical mistakes and fraud will also enable greater information sharing and collaboration between authorized physicians, practices and hospitals across wide geographic areas. For example, allowing a doctor in New York to have instant access to a patient’s records at a practice in Florida means that this “share-ability” of data can provide more timely access to life-saving information and reduce the total cost of healthcare.
At Coriell Life Sciences, we’ve identified the necessity to optimize exchanges between healthcare providers, physicians, and patients by focusing on technological innovation. It’s becoming increasingly evident that embracing the open cloud model will usher in the next generation of more precise and accurate clinical care, while simultaneously stimulating economic growth and job generation.