Cloud computing growing in healthcare market

According to research[1], the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach around $40 billion (US) by 2026. That’s an increase of about 14%. What’s more, the European healthcare cloud computing market is set to experience a rise of 15.7% over the forecast period.

This growth is significant as, while the cloud has become increasingly prevalent across other sectors (e.g. banking, retail, tech, media, etc.), healthcare tends to be a slow adopter when it comes to new technology. So, the forecasted growth in the sector demonstrates that the cloud is now becoming the norm.

Of course, here in the UK, our hospitals, clinics and GP practices are going digital. In January last year, NHS Digital announced that it was taking a ‘cloud-first’ approach to technology. Official guidance on cloud computing for health and social care was published. And, while some NHS organisations were already using cloud services, this was the first time they were provided with official guidance on the technology. So, the government effectively gave the green light for public health organisations to move patient data from on-site servers to cloud services.

The benefits of cloud computing to patients and the healthcare sector

This online revolution has the potential to deliver several key benefits for the sector. For example:

  • A reduction in paperwork
  • Reduced costs
  • Better customer service (e.g. the ability to book appointments and order prescriptions online)
  • Better engagement with the public
  • Higher standards of patient care (a reduction in paper records leads to fewer errors and more joined-up and more effective provision)
  • More transparency (with the ability to provide patients with access to their own medical records)
  • Advancements in treatments, diagnosis and care (the sharing of patient data is leading to better study trends and identification of the causes of ailments)
  • The ability to develop, test and deploy services quickly (without substantial up-front costs)

Data protection is vital

Of course, as our health care system moves online, there must be vigorous protections in place to secure patient data. And data security has certainly been one reason why healthcare is slower than most other sectors when it comes to tech adoption. But the guidance addresses this concern stating that:

 “NHS and social care organisations can safely locate health and care data, including confidential patient information, in the public cloud including solutions that make use of data off-shoring. Cloud providers have a significant budget to pay for updating, maintaining, patching and securing their infrastructure. This means cloud services can mitigate many common risks NHS and social care organisations often face”.

However, the advice does state that data held in the cloud must conform to UK law. So that must be a fundamental consideration when choosing a cloud provider. All Cloud Geeni data centres are situated in the UK.

With the cloud now more secure than ever, it seems that the cloud is set to become more prevalent in NHS and social care organisations. That will deliver benefits when it comes to interoperability and enhanced healthcare provision, and, in turn, speed up the rate of cloud adoption across the sector.

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[1] Acumen Research and Consulting