Cloud for healthcare in APAC -- more than image archiving
Sash Mukherjee, senior market analyst, IDC Health Insights, Asia/Pacific
According to Sash Mukherjee (pictured), senior market analyst of IDC Health Insights and author of the report, this is because patient centricity has become a key trend in healthcare provision, and "cloud technologies" are "immensely" facilitating this trend.
In a follow up interview with Asia Cloud Forum, Mukherjee outlines some current cloud-based healthcare initiatives including Singapore's Frontier Healthcare blood pressure watcher; how community clouds can assist collaborative healthcare; the common "compliance stamps" being recognized in different Asia Pacific (APAC) countries; and some of the misconceptions about cloud models that healthcare organizations presently have.
Asia Cloud Forum: How can cloud services adoption improve patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, and providing collaborative healthcare?
"Telemedicine [...] has re-emerged as a growing trend in healthcare, revolutionized by global broadband initiatives."
-- Sash Mukherjee, senior market analyst, IDC Health Insights, APAC
Sash Mukherjee: Patient centricity has become the key trend in healthcare provision. Patient centricity has seen trends leading to the adoption of EMR (electronic medical record)/ EHR (electronic health record)/ PHR (personal health record), and technologies related to integrated care, patient safety, point-of-care access to demographic and clinical information, and clinical decision support. Availability of data, irrespective of the location of the patient and the clinician, has become the key, both to provide patient satisfaction, as well as improve clinical outcomes. Cloud technologies can immensely facilitate this trend.
HP's Mobile Health (mHealth) Monitoring Solution
pilot run in Singapore is a good example. In an eight-week long clinical trial 100 patients from a private medical group, Frontier Healthcare
wore HealthSTATS International
's wireless watch-like blood pressure monitoring device. The data collected by the smart devices were relayed wirelessly to a centralized healthcare data repository powered by SingTel
's cloud infrastructure. Any irregularity in the users' health data triggered alerts to the healthcare service provider. This not only improves clinical outcome, but also improves patient satisfaction, because the patients know that their clinician is monitoring their chronic ailment on a regular basis.
What is "collaborative healthcare"? How is it done through cloud services adoption?
: "Collaborative healthcare," the way that I have defined it in the report
, is the provision of healthcare through the collaborative efforts of the different stakeholders, (payer and provider organizations) to improve clinical outcomes. The focus is on access to the right demographic and clinical information at the point-of-care, whether within or outside the walls of the hospital.
EMR/EHR deployments have enabled exchange of health information across several healthcare providers. This collaboration between different healthcare providers need not be within the same country, if medical tourism is concerned. There is also a need for information-sharing between provider (hospitals) and the payer (insurance providers) organizations.
One major way that cloud services adoption can assist in this regard is by the creation of 'community clouds' (a multi-enterprise cloud service that's been commissioned by, and is controlled by a group of enterprises from the industry). Healthcare organizations and the payer community have similar concerns regarding security and compliance. It can provide a controlled secure environment, used for information-sharing across that community.
How is "collaborative healthcare" different from telemedicine?
Mukherjee: Telemedicine is definitely a huge component of "collaborative healthcare." It has re-emerged as a growing trend in healthcare, revolutionized by global broadband initiatives. It now encompasses not only tele-consultations and tele-surgeries, but also health record exchange, video-conferencing, and home monitoring. This growing trend requires a collaborative effort between mobility and intelligent devices that use the broadband network to stream data real time, enabling real time decision making, and information dissemination. Cloud-based telemedicine can help save healthcare dollars in a big way.
Regarding "compliance stamps," what are some of the common compliance requirements that cloud service adopters abide by?
"The Australian Government Information Management Office has recently been very vocal about cloud data storage and cross-border risks."
-- Sash Mukherjee, senior market analyst, IDC Health Insights, APAC
: The commonest compliance stamp applicable for the healthcare industry is the HIPAA
(Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in the USA) stamp. However, countries are developing their own data compliance standards.
Why is picture archiving "not an area where cloud technology is being considered?"
Mukherjee: The low adoption of cloud services for PACS (picture archiving and communication system) is a surprise, especially because storage is a key driver for cloud adoption. Respondents from Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, the three countries most committed to EHR adoption, showed least intentions of migrating PACS services to a cloud environment, reflecting the strong compliance-related issues in these countries.
What are the specific confusions and misconceptions about the different cloud computing models that healthcare organizations have?
Mukherjee: The confusion is apparent if you look at figure 1 below:
Figure 1. Cloud applications suitability -- healthcare industry, Asia Pacific
Question: Which functions do you find the most suitable for public, private and hybrid cloud implementations?
(Source: IDC Health Insights, 2012)
The common misconception is around the s-word! Being concerned about security is positive attitude for healthcare IT decision makers who deal with potentially sensitive data, and immense personal information.
However, smaller healthcare organizations (and there are plenty of these in the region) that are currently outsourcing their IT functionalities anyway, may actually benefit from centralized and standardized cloud offerings that already have compliance stamps like HIPAA
. These organizations should look out for reputable vendors providing proof of concepts based on real numbers and solid track records. Many of these organizations have not made major investments in infrastructure, and have the luxury of incorporating the cloud delivery model into their cloud strategies before making major infrastructure investments.
Please give examples of the specific healthcare organizations in APAC that have successfully adopted cloud services.
: There are several instances. Some of them are pilot programs which show clear intentions of the way the future is headed. The inclusion of Telstra
in the National Infrastructure Partner program in the PCEHR system in Australia
is an example. From previous associations with Accenture
(which leads the consortium) Telstra's role in the consortium appears to be that of a cloud computing partner to host the Web portals, using its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, "Silver Lining."
In India, the Max Healthcare group
entered into a 10-year contract with Dell Services
in 2009, to convert the IT infrastructure of all its facilities, across the country into a private cloud atmosphere.
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