The introduction of new tools and information have allowed for numerous breakthroughs in healthcare throughout history. Today, it’s the leveraging of Big Data and Cloud Computing that are accelerating advances in healthcare at an amazing rate. With benefits such as immediate access to better information, diminished costs, and government incentives, it is imperative that healthcare providers keep up with their information technology requirements.
Big Data and Health Care
The study of Big Data allows specialists to spot trends, and make inferences regarding the future of that data. Incorporating Big Data into healthcare clearly has the ability to transform the industry. In the future, a patient will likely be able to walk into a hospital and receive customized care immediately. How? Each person will likely have their own digital health profile that will be accessible from anywhere. Diagnoses will be faster and far more accurate thanks to the vast amount of data mining that will advance medical research.
Much of this is already taking place. For example, websites such as WebMD provide an easy way for patients located anywhere to diagnose themselves based on certain inputs by the “patient” online. While WebMD certainly cannot replace a real doctor, it can be a great tool for preparing to visit a healthcare provider. In addition, each time a person uses WebMD, more data is gathered regarding diagnoses and trends around the world.
As more healthcare data is mined, predictability is quickly becoming the name of the game. Doctors are making better decisions and saving more lives. Drug companies are manufacturing more effective drugs. Society is making better predictions when it comes to outbreaks of illnesses such as the flu. There is one major component that all of these advances rely on: storing our healthcare data in a safe and accessible manner.
Bringing Healthcare’s Big Data to the Cloud
The age of storing hard copies of our data has come to an end. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are now the norm. With the passing of The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), the government is even offering financial incentives to healthcare providers who demonstrate meaningful use of Electronic Health Records. To keep up with all of this data, many healthcare providers are making the switch to cloud computing.
When healthcare providers choose to leverage the cloud, they are able to store data on servers using the latest technology, and only pay for the computing power that they use. Due to the vast economies of scale associated with cloud computing, it’s incredibly inexpensive compared to maintaining servers onsite.
When data is stored in the cloud, it’s stored in servers all over the world. Not only does this provide many backups, but it allows data to be accessible from almost anywhere. The ability to leverage huge amounts of computing power and data unlocks great potential.
On a recent episode of NPR’s All Things Considered, Matt Wood of Amazon Web Services outlined a great example of the level of efficiency that’s possible when the Health Care Industry leverages the cloud. One of their customers wanted to complete a screening of 21 million chemical compounds. The company was able to pay for only the amount of computing power that they needed, and complete the experiment in three hours for under 15,000 dollars. To do that in house, the company would have needed to spend millions of dollars for the thousands of computers needed to process that level of information.
Health IT and Security
Healthcare providers must make sure that all protected health information (PHI) is stored and handled according to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the recent HITECH Act. Careful planning is required to make sure that the information infrastructure of a healthcare provider meets all requirements of HIPAA and HITECH. It’s often best for healthcare professionals to bring in an expert, especially when making the switch to the cloud.
Offspring Solutions has worked with a number of organizations on Health IT initiatives. As a Standard Consulting Partner with Amazon Web Services, we are experts at building applications for healthcare on the AWS infrastructure. We have also leveraged a number of other systems such as Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) to modernize Health IT. Give Offspring Solutions a call at (703) 227-7752 to ask about our Health IT solutions.
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