Here’s how cloud computing is enabling industry transformation MedTech, CIO News, ET CIO

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and aggravated the current healthcare burden in India, triggering the need for action to build a more resilient healthcare system. This has necessitated an evolution of the health care model to cope with the challenges ahead, including a growing gap between doctors and patients and lack of infrastructure limiting the accessibility of health care in remote parts of the country. In response, health and social service providers have embraced digital healthcare transformation, leveraging MedTech technology and innovation to easily deliver effective and scalable solutions nationwide. In fact, data from EY suggests that 51% of health and social care organizations surveyed across public and private spheres in India have increased their use of digital technologies during the pandemic.

To accelerate the growth trajectory of the Indian MedTech sector and strengthen the digital infrastructure for the delivery of quality healthcare, it is paramount to harness data effectively. How do you efficiently store valuable health information, analyze it in the context of a broader patient history, and deploy that information to improve patient outcomes? One of the solutions is an emerging and potentially disruptive technology – cloud computing, which has transformed the healthcare landscape by driving connectivity, greater speed, data storage, security and scalability.

Scaling Accurate Information-Driven Healthcare with Cloud Computing

With recent technological advancements in cloud connectivity, as well as the growing adoption of AI tools and 5G connectivity in healthcare, transmitting complex data in milliseconds is now becoming a reality. Additionally, cloud platforms provide healthcare professionals with a single portal to access integrated applications to easily view, process, and share imaging scans and other patient data and histories. For these platforms to thrive, it is imperative that technology providers effectively develop and deploy consistent services that support cloud infrastructure, especially to facilitate the adoption of related applications in the multi-cloud environment, such as stated in a Gartner report.

Healthcare remains a dynamic field, and the role of the cloud can be critical in processing large amounts of healthcare data in a timely manner to generate vital patient insights. This allows clinicians to have easy access to data, including patient histories and best practice case studies, for research and clinical application at their fingertips. This leads to more informed decision making, faster diagnosis and more accurate healthcare. For example, insights gained from data, such as with AI tools, can guide personalized treatments, which are particularly relevant for therapeutic areas like oncology because each person’s cancer and care trajectory is unique.

The Need for Simplified Data and Cloud Adoption to Advance Digital Transformation

Simplified data sharing is key to fostering collaboration and meaningful doctor-patient interactions in healthcare. The adoption of the cloud facilitates this and enables the transfer of simplified data from wearable technologies, such as blood glucose monitoring devices, from the patient’s device to the physician, which can be analyzed to generate actionable insights.

There is a clear need for rapid transfer of simplified data through these cloud platforms to advance digital healthcare, for example by supporting remote diagnosis or virtual assistance in complex procedures. For example, practitioners can easily collaborate with video streaming from cath labs and operating theaters in real time, supporting the delivery of quality care. It can also be a boon for imaging, with more experienced technologists able to remotely access scans and guide local practitioners through patient treatment pathways.

Pick the pace with data-driven insights

Cloud computing also helps clinicians provide faster, error-free, and patient-centric diagnoses. With their ability to facilitate high-speed data transfers and the elasticity of computing capacity, these platforms minimize medical errors and the time needed to diagnose and provide care. For example, it used to take up to six hours for a typical computer to process information from a CT scan and provide a holistic picture of their brain, for a patient who arrived at the hospital with stroke symptoms. However, the golden hour or processing window is around four hours.

To reduce the time to obtain imaging information, the industry has turned to adopting cloud technologies to support its medical devices. These platforms are thus able to enable clinicians to turn data into impactful information and seek life-saving treatments.

Over time, cloud platforms are also designed to provide additional services, including device protocol management and care pathway analytics, that can advance the role of AI in clinical care. These platforms are fundamental to increasing day-to-day operational efficiency – improving technology capabilities, reducing costs, time and labor, thereby easing the load on healthcare systems, including hospital networks. This drives smart processes, making systems more agile and responsive when needed. Even more, better interoperability between systems could save healthcare ecosystems $30 billion a year. It is also a scalable solution to efficiently support care delivery in small clinics located in remote or rural areas, as well as across multi-facility networks.

Cloud-connected systems improve the delivery of high-quality care. To ensure that best practices are maintained, this must be coupled with rigorous compliance and data security standards to ensure that the security and privacy of patient data underlines the digital transformation of healthcare. Today’s dynamic healthcare environment needs integrated and innovative solutions like cloud platforms more than ever.

The author is Girish Raghavan, Vice President – Engineering, GE Healthcare

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