Cloud computing / Health care transformation

The Cloud: Taking Health Data to New Heights

February 22, 2016

Data is today’s most valuable currency across all sectors. The demand for comprehensive, streamlined data and analytics is most vital, however, in health care, where the right information, at the right time, in the hands of the right person, can mean the difference between life and death. ‘Big (health) data’ requires an even bigger system to store, manage, and share it—the cloud.
The implications of cloud-based technology in the realm of health care brings an antiquated model of care into the 21st century. Clinical data and patient analytics will drive quality outcomes for the future of health care; cloud computing affords clinicians and health care facilities the much needed ability to access and effectively engage with critical data in real-time, in a quick and cost-effective way.

Accessible Across the Continuum of Care

Health care at its finest is highly collaborative and multi-disciplinary—facilitating the sharing of valuable data evidence-based best practices, as well as ground-breaking research and innovative models of care. This team effort, however, is often obstructed by slow, outdated methods of communication, especially as health care becomes increasingly decentralized. Electronic data deployed on the cloud allows clinicians across the continuum of care to collaborate around a single patient profile at the point of care and across health care facilities. This means having fully integrated access to results from the local lab near a patient’s home, mobile health data, and family and medical history from their GP. This will be especially important as we anticipate a rapidly aging baby boomer population, many of whom are or will be diagnosed with multi-morbid chronic conditions—the most important contributing factor to their use of health care services. Over 25% of Canadians currently report having two or more chronic conditions. The rise of multi-morbidities will require greater collaboration between patients’ multiple health care providers and caregivers, as well as more sophisticated, data-driven administrative and IT solutions in order to prevent and reduce potential transcription or prescription errors. Also, readily accessible data and analytics will help drive future value initiatives; a March 2015 survey conducted by CDW Healthcare found that two-thirds of health care decision makers considered analytics one of their top three priorities. This will be imperative as health systems across the globe move toward quality, and outcomes-based funding and resource delivery models.

Cost-Effective Use of Resources

As the Canadian health system undergoes dramatic funding reforms, and the United States changes their billing models to ICD-10, clinical analytics and patient data capture will be essential to alleviating cost pressures. Limited financial resources, and increasing pressures to deliver greater quality patient care requires a new, innovative approach to delivering health care. For instance, in recent years, there has been a seismic shift towards community-based health and long-term care facilities. Not only does this save time in busy, urban hospitals, but also creates some margin for health care funding, as hospitals account for 30% of total of health care budgets, 60% of which goes towards physician salaries. Integrated access to patient information and clinical analytics deployed on cloud-based software ensures seamless, timely communication with small, community-based facilities, which typically hire lower-salaried health professionals.
The changing landscape of health care demands transformation on all fronts, from the way care is delivered, funded, and managed. Cloud-based data and analytics is the catalytic step towards pioneering quality, patient-centric health care reformation and optimization.

Notes

  • Canadian Institute for Health Information. Seniors and the healthcare system.
  • Health Council of Canada. (2012). Self-management support for Canadians with chronic health conditions. Retrieved from http://www.selfmanagementbc.ca/uploads/HCC_SelfManagementReport_FA.pdf
  • CDW Research on Analytics in Healthcare, March 2015.
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information. National Health Expenditure Trends, 1975 to 2013.
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