Why cloud is essential to the success of future healthcare

Posted on 02/12/2019

Louise Fellows, Director, Public Sector UK&I

The healthcare industry is one of the most challenging to transform. It has a huge number of legacy systems with vast amounts of highly sensitive, personalised information and is beset by funding challenges. All in an environment where time pressure is a key driver in delivering accurate and safe healthcare to save lives.

The world over, many governments face countless issues in their quest for a digitized health service. The European healthcare system faces unprecedented challenges, thanks to a reduction in resources and an insufficiently networked database, as well as rising expectations and an escalating demand for digitized services – a topic we covered in our previous blog.

All of the above places the current models of healthcare under increasing strain. As our latest report, ‘The Future of Healthcare’ found, at a time when the healthcare sector is tasked with delivering greater operational efficiency through digital transformation, there is increasing pressure to consistently deliver a better service to patients. This is challenging clinical CIOs to be innovative to deliver true patient-centric care. It’s a role many are already aware of: a Forbes Insight report found that 46% of CIOs say their function will be essential to fostering innovation within their companies. And they are going to do this, not by being focused on hardware procurement and management but by focused on the results.  What can I deliver to my clinicians and patients? That means they want access to services that can be deployed and integrated quickly.

The cloud fueled healthcare revolution

This acceleration in digital service provision is being fueled by the power of cloud solutions, which are changing the way doctors, nurses, clinics, and hospitals deliver quality, cost-effective services to their patients through easing the journey of digital transformation. By improving the development, movement, management, security and integration of applications and data, cloud solutions are now the backbone of modern healthcare.

This is the power of a multi-cloud strategy.  The end game isn’t the cloud but getting the application into the hands of the user – the doctor, the nurse, the carer, the patient – as fast and as securely as possible. Behind the scenes, choice of cloud – private, public, hybrid, Edge -shouldn’t matter.  But complexity has set in as now organisations are using multiple clouds – on average eight clouds – and application development and management have become more complex than ever before: traditional apps, cloud- native, SaaS, services.  All organizations are now reliant on running infrastructure that can deal with these rapid changes, can scale and can handle new types of workload.

A true multi- cloud experience should mean you can create, run, manage, connect and intrinsically protect any app, across any cloud, at speed. In our view, it is the reduced complexity but increased effectiveness that really shows why our strategy delivers. It can support the development and operations of cloud and container-based apps, continue to drive cost out of existing on-premises workloads, and even connect and control existing apps and data sources with new, cloud-native ones to create value in innovative ways.

Cloud driving outcome-focused thinking

The biggest impact that cloud technologies have had on healthcare has been that the focus has been exclusively on the outcome, not on how to develop, install, build and manage it. This is especially true when it is unclear how the use or adaptation of a particular application will evolve, and the question of the necessary scaling cannot be answered clearly. Suddenly it is possible for specialist departments to publish applications independently, to use the services offered externally or to carry out certain studies without long delays, although this can add pressure to IT when the department and IT are not working hand in hand. However, the benefits do not end there:

  1. It is ‘sign up and go’ – Simple set up time is much faster than deploying on-premise IT.  For healthcare organisations needing to access a return quickly, this could prove decisive.
  2. It empowers innovation – The speed and simplicity allow access to applications that deliver the intuitive experience employees have come to expect from the digital tools they use outside of the workplace. The cloud removes the technology and the complexity of IT and instead puts focus on what that tool delivers to them or their patients.  They can also use services which are simply not available on-premise today and would be complex to implement, for example a big data algorithm for researchers which can simply be booked and tweaked as long as they need it.
  3. It delivers financial freedom – In some instances, hospitals have to make large investments upfront instead of using a pay-as-you go model. Where this isn’t the case, cloud can alter that dynamic, giving healthcare organisations the full flexibility of both capital (capex) and operational (opex) expenditure models. In an era of cash-strapped health services, this will enable them to deliver new levels of care at a much more economical rate, tailored to the needs of the hospital.
  4. It scales rapidly – Organisations can scale up and down their resources according to operational demand, quickly and without a high cost of change. This means a wide spectrum of finite resources, including people and technology, can be aligned to shifting priorities on a daily basis. And irrespective of the type or origin of app or cloud, one consistent set off tools can prevent silos and re-skilling every time there is a technology change.
  5. It offers shortcuts – Whether it is prebuilt platforms or ‘as-a-service’ solutions, chances are a version of whatever is needed already exists somewhere. If healthcare organisations only have to develop a part of their offering from scratch and can augment it with off-the-shelf components that have already been delivered and proven, it can cut time and cost drastically.

VMware the key to a multi-cloud future and smarter healthcare

The advent of a hybrid world between on-premise systems and multi-cloud stacks will mean that healthcare organisations will become increasingly used to simply consuming IT services without worrying about how they will be delivered or managed – just as we don’t worry about how power is generated, managed and provided from an outlet. However, there are still many questions to be answered, such as the security and data protection requirements. Ultimately, the pressure to use cloud services that also use critical patient data is likely to come through governments interested in providing healthcare across borders to their citizens and minimizing costs, or through software vendors interested in making their software easily available via cloud services.

While different cloud providers and SaaS offerings will deliver elements of a digital strategy, only VMware delivers the full end to end digital backbone needed to develop and build a multi cloud solution.  It is our software-enabled digital foundation that is enabling healthcare organisations to create, run, manage, connect and intrinsically protect applications, across any cloud, at speed – thus realising the vision of a multi-cloud future.


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