Nowadays, cloud technology is a part of everyday life. From backing up your phone to saving photos, the cloud offers storage and accessibility with just the click of a button. Yet cloud technology is a feature that provides benefits outside of personal use. With 83 percent of healthcare organizations using cloud-based applications, cloud technology is here to stay. Cloud technology is changing the healthcare system and healthcare informatics, and the impact has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantage: Integrated and Efficient Patient Care
Previously, doctors relied upon faxed or mailed paper charts when sharing information about patients between practices. Cloud technology offers a single access point to patient information, allowing multiple doctors to view lab results or consult notes on patients. Collaborations regarding treatment plans happen with a single click, and the transfer of this information occurs instantly. Rather than waiting on another practice to send over patient results, doctors can spend more time on patient care and treatment options.
Disadvantage: Potential Risks to Personal Information
Data breaches of patient information are a risk with cloud technology. The information contained within a patient’s healthcare record is both private and at risk for theft. Many argue that hackers could compromise cloud technology and access patient information. However, these data compromises occur mostly within the private cloud environment. Many cloud technology providers offer encryption, proper data disposal and other security features to keep patient data safe. Safeguards can prevent hackers from accessing private information.
Advantage: Better Management of Data
As more healthcare facilities adopt electronic health records, a wealth of data is accumulating in the field of public health metrics. Cloud technology will allow researchers to mine this data and more accurately assess the health of the general public. The more data that researchers can collect, the more opportunities to spot trends in disease and potentially avoid public health crises. This method of mining data will also provide insight on ways to save money on healthcare.
Disadvantage: Cloud Set-up Seems Cumbersome
Hospitals and doctors’ offices have relied on handwritten notes in paper charts for decades. The thought of transitioning to a completely electronic system may seem daunting to some people. Smaller or older practices may not have the expertise regarding cloud technology and find that the movement to a cloud-based system is cumbersome. However, this technology is not going anywhere, and more and more healthcare systems are adopting this method. Proper education and demonstration of functionality will allow resistant doctors to see the benefits of cloud technology.
Cloud technology is not a perfect solution to manage patient care and data in the healthcare system, yet this technology provides patients and doctors with accessibility to information that can improve patient care. The cloud also offers a great opportunity to use patient data on a healthcare informatics scale to draw conclusions about public health and allow users to quickly and efficiently manage personal information. Hurdles exist with implementing new technology and the threat of data breaches, but with proper education and the right framework, healthcare systems can take advantage of this rapidly growing and useful technology.