The time and expense associated with purchasing and maintaining hardware, security upgrades, and monitoring, as well as disaster recovery, impacts your ability to focus on what matters most—patient care. Read this article to see how cloud-based IT solutions can help reduce complexity, better position you in times of crisis, and improve your clinical care delivery model.
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The Cloud’s Impact on a Healthcare Environment
Information technology offers clinical providers opportunities for higher efficiency and enhanced services, but outdated systems and limited resources make it hard to take advantage of those opportunities.
Today, healthcare delivery organizations of all types and sizes—from physician offices and clinics to community health centers, as well as large integrated networks—are turning to the cloud to address these challenges, with remarkably similar successes.
An increasing amount of the healthcare IT workload is being deployed in the cloud, at an estimated 39% today, and projected to rise to 50% within the next year. That’s a nearly 30% increase since 2018, and organizations are making this shift to lower costs, enhance services, and improve security and performance, according to KLAS Research.
Over the next two to five years, significant changes in the healthcare industry will make the benefits of cloud technology even more pronounced, panelists said during a recent Med Tech Solutions webinar. These include regulatory changes, the expansion of telehealth, and virtual care, and API-driven integration.
The cloud gives organizations the ability to prepare for and respond to such changes, scale quickly and strategically, implement robust security controls, and meet performance measures and compliance standards. More importantly, it puts technology where it belongs: in the realm of IT. That frees providers from spending time and effort on technology management, allowing for better care delivery.
Key Improvements for Healthcare Organizations Include:
- Support for organizational innovation
- Improved resiliency and disaster recovery
- Improved privacy and security
- Greater flexibility
- Reduced costs, including hardware, software, and labor
- Support for a team-based, outcomes-driven care delivery model
Amid an ongoing trend toward migration to the cloud, COVID-19 has brought the issue of operational efficiency and cost control to the forefront. In a recent survey from Deloitte Consulting, almost 43% of respondents said COVID-19 has accelerated their planned innovation projects. Healthcare organizations are working to provide patient care in a way that is financially sustainable despite limited staff and resources.
“With everything going on with COVID, providers must have the ability to get into the EHR and review documentation for patient health, whether it be telehealth or virtual visits,” Armando Besné, senior manager of CIS at OptumCare, said during the webinar. OptumCare uses cloud technology from MTS, and it has benefited from having some roles taken off its plate, including network teams, server teams, and security teams. “We can focus on delivering the best patient care and not worrying about our IT infrastructure,” he said.
Also, a performance dashboard allows his organization to monitor its environment in real-time, plan for scalability, and fix issues before they become problems.
As a result, OptumCare can provide better, faster care without the kind of technical issues that require providers to become IT troubleshooters.
“Over the years, we found we were piecemealing IT, and we recognized that wasn’t the best way to go forward.” – Miguel Rodriguez, IT director at Arroyo Vista Family Health Center
The use of the cloud also allows for a more cohesive IT approach, delivered in a way that maximizes resources while controlling expenditures, said Miguel Rodriguez, IT director at Arroyo Vista Family Health Center, a nonprofit network of community health centers in California.
“Over the years, we found we were piecemealing IT, and we recognized that wasn’t the best way to go forward,” he said. In particular, inefficiencies were creating a strain on the organization’s tight budget that relies mainly on grants.
To improve cost control, Arroyo Vista turned to cloud computing and saw improvements with:
- Financial predictability
- Budgeting flexibility
- Shared services
- Fewer support requirements
- Embedded privacy and security
Rodriguez noted that Arroyo Vista, which also partners with MTS, sees the partnership as “an extension of our help desk, and some of the expertise they have is much more than we could ever afford.”
OptumCare also saw significant savings after moving a majority of its core systems to virtual servers and solid-state hard drives. “I was able to save $250,000 moving from a previous vendor to MTS, with a more robust, higher-performing solution,” Besné said. “That in itself was a huge win for my organization. No longer do I need a network team, security team, server team, or identity access management team.”
“I was able to save $250,000 moving from a previous vendor to MTS, with a more robust, higher-performing solution… That in itself was a huge win for my organization.” – Armando Besné, senior manager of CIS at OptumCare
The Cloud’s Impact on a Healthcare Environment
The decisions by OptumCare and Arroyo Vista to embrace cloud technology now allow them to fully focus on providing care, not on wrangling technology, noted Chris Gooch, manager of cloud services for MTS.
Organizations that make this shift can run their infrastructure on enterprise-grade hardware they might not otherwise have been able to afford, and they can move away from on-premises hardware that may become obsolete or need to be refreshed. Some MTS clients have seen up to a 35% increase in application performance by moving from a legacy installation or another cloud provider, Gooch said. This frees up time for providers to see more patients and to engage more effectively with those patients.
Additional care improvements come from better use of EHR data. Currently, 70% of physicians say they don’t see a clear link between EHRs and the ability to provide better patient outcomes. But hosting EHRs in the cloud allows organizations to tap data analytics insights from population health information, patient engagement data, and other measures to improve care.
Healthcare organizations that embrace the shift to more efficient cloud technology can give their providers the time, resources, and information they need to provide the best patient care possible.
Source: Med Tech Solutions