Few industries are as data-intensive as healthcare. From the wealth of information surrounding patient records, insurance policies and prescription fulfillment to the sheer volumes that drive basic research and statistical modeling, healthcare is at the forefront of the data revolution.
But like everyone else, healthcare firms have a vested interest in building and maintaining the most efficient, cost-effective data infrastructure possible. This is not easy when data keeps growing so quickly.
Many healthcare organizations are turning to the hybrid cloud for greater flexibility, better economics and elasticity. According to Transparency Market Research, the healthcare cloud market is set to top $6.8 billion by 2018, a more than 50 percent gain from 2016. This growth will be driven largely by the need to expand existing digital records capabilities, which will initially take place in the form of private cloud infrastructure but will ultimately connect with third-party resources under seamlessly connected hybrid architectures.
Hybrid infrastructure helps with more than just data volume, of course. As a highly regulated industry, healthcare must deal with a plethora of compliance issues, often across multiple jurisdictions. In many cases, hybrid clouds can be pre-configured to support leading compliance frameworks like HIPAA, HITECH and the many requirements of the Affordable Care Act. In general, cloud infrastructure is much easier to update and configure as the rules change over time.
And contrary to early impressions, the hybrid cloud has shown itself to be just as adept, if not more so, on the all-important question of security. Patient records are the crown jewels for most providers and insurance companies, and it turns out that deployment of essential security features, including those on every sensor in today’s IoT world, is as practical in the cloud as it is on premises.
The same holds true for data processing and analytics apps. While many legacy environments are struggling to build advanced database and data warehousing techniques, the cloud is already steeped in leading platforms like Splunk, SQL, Hadoop and Spark. As long as the healthcare provider chooses a top-notch cloud partner, it gains access to a suite of managed services that can streamline and simplify scale-out storage architectures, advanced networking, and a host of other functions that would be too expensive and time-consuming to deploy on traditional infrastructure. Many users, in fact, find they can cut infrastructure costs by as much as 80 percent by switching to a hybrid cloud strategy.
With a hybrid cloud architecture, the healthcare industry gains what many of today’s cloud-facing enterprises have already discovered: freedom from the drudgery of provisioning and managing data infrastructure that drives up costs and lowers data productivity. In this way, health organizations can leave tech support to someone else and focus on what they do best: striving for optimal patient outcomes.