Industry Snapshot: Digital Transformation Takes Hold of Global Healthcare Provision

With the healthcare cloud computing market size forecast to grow at a 16.8% CAGR from 2020 to 2025, the impact of advanced digital technologies on the provision of health services is gearing up to be quite significant.

The pressure that COVID-19 has put on the healthcare industry and its essential operations over the last twelve months has shown us the importance of having solid infrastructure in order for clinical processes to run smoothly and for patients to receive the best possible care.

Given the relevance to today’s world, we discuss how digital transformation is taking hold of global healthcare in terms of how it is provided, managed, and secured with the help of cloud and colocation, and how health organizations can feel confident in the protection of their patient data when migrating their workloads.

Leveraging cloud in the face of digital transformation

Digital transformation has redefined what it takes for businesses in many industries to thrive and be competitive, and those in healthcare are experiencing no different.

According to Nutanix’s third annual Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) report, 68% of healthcare organizations found that digital transformation significantly impacted cloud implementation across various industry verticals, and they’re seeing similar trends occur in their own line of work.

Cloud computing in the healthcare industry garnered $23 billion in revenue in 2019 - a number that’s only set to increase in the next five years as more health organizations recognize the benefits in adopting cloud to support their operations.

Two such benefits include 1) the opportunity for more personalized healthcare and 2) the utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants, which 52% and 44% of healthcare companies, respectively, reported were “positively impacting their cloud adoption,” according to Nutanix’s ECI.

“Healthcare organizations today are [also] looking to improve patient experience, increase data interoperability and deliver both virtual and value-based care,” according to Cheryl Rodenfels, Healthcare Strategist, Nutanix, “...[and] these outcomes cannot be achieved without harnessing the power of flexible and secure cloud infrastructure.”

This all translates into more integrated and efficient patient care, more effective and easy  management of data, and greater overall progress and innovation for healthcare companies who undertake digital transformation.

So, luckily for patients, the Nutanix report projected a net 44% increase in hybrid cloud usage by healthcare companies which is set to occur in the next three to five years.

Ensuring security and regulatory compliance in data centers and the cloud

Alongside the emergence of telehealth, security and data protection is becoming top of mind for most healthcare providers as patient records and other hospital information are deemed private and extremely sensitive.

As a result, 60.4% of healthcare respondents in Nutanix’s ECI said that the state of intercloud security would be the most influential factor on their future cloud deployments, while 55% cited regulations governing data storage as a top factor influencing future cloud model adoption at their organizations.

Since at least 2018, there has been some reluctance to embrace interoperability in healthcare through technology, with data and security concerns acting as the top barrier to change.

A lack of education has historically caused widespread anxieties about the security of moving patient data and information to the cloud or onto other off-premise locations, but IT professionals and network service providers are seeking to alleviate these concerns.

“Colocation data centers have the rock-solid infrastructure in place to deliver high levels of uptime while also meeting the exacting demands of HIPAA compliance,” says Ernest Sampera, CMO and Sr VP Business Development, vXchange.

On the other hand, Rodenfels from Nutanix argues that “...A hybrid cloud model enables IT teams to secure patient data and ensure regulatory compliance while allowing healthcare providers to continue delivering advanced technological care to extend patient experience to the digital space.”

Advanced network systems and the closing of cyber gaps by cloud and colocation providers are making healthcare organizations more at ease when it comes to the idea of offloading sensitive workloads and data, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have their wits about them.

A spokesperson from Acumen acknowledged that “...If we are able to get assurances from our partners that [data centers are] high-tech and HIPAA-certified, that makes our job easier.”

“We don’t have to manage infrastructure and we don’t have to have an extensive security program in place to be able to manage it,” they said.

Overall, when healthcare companies think critically about each aspect of their network, data center storage, cloud computing, and use of new technologies – and gain a thorough understanding of the security and privacy landscape associated with each – plus make the most effective choices when procuring these resources, digital transformation can be a safe and effective strategy. 

Around the world, healthcare is and always will be an essential service, and it’s in demand now more than ever. As the industry continues to advance alongside science and digital transformation, so too will the standards surrounding the use of cloud and digital technologies to support health services everywhere.

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