Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cloud Computing and the Healthcare Field


Unrestricted access to medical records is vital for patient care. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has the capability of providing information to healthcare professionals using various facilities. The downside is that at present access is only given to one healthcare facility such as a doctor’s office or a specific hospital.

The usual way it works is that when a patient gets referred to a specialist the patient’s records need to be submitted by the initial doctor to the specialist. Apart from being inconvenient it takes up a lot of time! Even medical professionals in the same medical group, but are in various locations may not have access to the records. This is where Cloud Computing saves the day!

Cloud computing gives you the ability to (via third party) store information and perform other tasks at a remote location. Once saved in the third party server the information is secure and only those with certified access can get into the system. All of the doctors involved with the care of the patient can access the EMR’s with the use of Cloud Computing.

Both the primary and the attending physician will have access to the medical records of the patient making it much easier and much faster for the process to take place. Doctors who have the facilities to access the cloud can review it from virtually anywhere and update patient records or even check up on test results! Quality of patient care increases since the turnaround time is reduced dramatically!

The leading concern when discussing about the medical industry and cloud is the security aspect. Both doctors and patients are concerned over the security and confidentiality of the medical records. These same concerns were running rampant in the banking industry when online banking was introduced and it is safe to say that the banking industry has tackled the security issue with great success!

The success of the banking industry and its’ security measures can be duplicated by the medical industry as well. A good place to begin would be to password protect and encrypt all information, and providing access to only personnel with the relevant credentials. Encryption when broadcasting is also another security measure to prevent third parties from intercepting the conversation.

An essential benefit in Cloud Computing which is important to all industries and fields is the cost effective factor. Having an IT department is an essential and required cost and will require a minimum of one server and IT techs to keep up with the system. Cloud computing can get the job done. Hospitals are given the opportunity to save cash in the long term and not compromise on the effectiveness.

Since you pay for only the facilities you need or use it is quite helpful for smaller hospitals and medical practices. The need for excess staff to maintain these requirements is significantly reduced. Not only is Could Computing cost effective, it will also dramatically increase patient care as immediate accessibility to the records (which can be viewed from different locations) is a possibility.

Although the benefits of Cloud Computing are countless there are also areas which require more attention. The healthcare industry needs a much higher level of protection than most industries/sectors, but Cloud Computing is yet to discover a method of connection than is highly secure. Even encryption methods require a high level of security and at present these security standards have not yet been met.

Storing information based on geography is also a concern. There are countries which are quite keen on maintaining the medical records of their citizens within their own country and therefore Cloud Computing poses a threat is that manner as well. The need to abide by all healthcare laws is quite important and only then can they financially benefit from it.

There is quite a demand for this technology in the market today and the only sure way to increase its popularity and success is to make sure that all aspects concerning security are considered. Having this information readily available for healthcare professionals is not only easy it will save valuable time in treating patients and in some cases identifying what the root of the problem might be.