Healthcare as an industry has undergone a ground-breaking change with patients becoming more and more involved in their own treatments. Today, it is actually possible for a patient to stay in touch with and consult his doctor without stepping out of his home. It is also possible for medical practitioners like nurses and doctors to monitor patient health and vital signs remotely. All this has ensured that patients can get continuous effective treatment at home while at the same time, reducing healthcare-related expenses for a population that is aging. There are some key healthcare technology trends which have had a profound impact on the IT infrastructure. These have been described as follows:
- According to Makovsky/Kelton survey, almost 90% of Americans are found to be now keen to share medical data to allow researchers to be able to study diseases better. They are even open to wearing smart devices for monitoring fitness and overall health parameters. So, more and more Internet of Things or IoT devices are being used and the data collected from their sensors will only keep growing as time passes by. A leading provider of global networks is of the opinion that almost 30% of worldwide data belongs to the healthcare industry. The biggest benefit of using these smart apps and devices is that patients suffering from chronic diseases can now get better and more effective treatments. For instance, according to a report released by Deloitte, patients who have been using medical apps have improved COPD management remarkably, leading to a lowering of nearly 50% in doctor visits.
- Another important trend which the healthcare industry is now experiencing is the use of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. So, the huge volumes of data relating to patients and diseases, prognosis and treatments, are now being processed through machine learning algorithms. This is a huge advantage as it will give medical professionals better and new insights into treatment of diseases. Moreover, it will also spare the researchers and doctors of a huge amount of time that they would otherwise have to spend on doing such research and that they can now to other pending work. Wired reports that such data-crunching algorithms are actually capable of saving pharmaceutical and medicine industries nearly $100 billion every year. With the growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence technologies, healthcare companies will now need more computing power which in turn means more power supplies.
- A major concern for healthcare companies has been the security and management of healthcare information. EHR or Electronic Health Records refer to the most sensitive records which cyber thieves will want to get access to. Costs pertaining to incidents of stolen records have been steadily increasing. For instance, data breaches of EHR may translate into costs as high as $408 for every record. While data breaches are rampant in the financial sector too, the amount is far less when compared to stolen medical records. It is possible for cybercriminals to amass as much as $500,000 for a medical health record database. This explains why cyber security experts and IT professionals are now working on finding new and more effective solutions to secure the records while making them accessible for patients and doctors at the same time.
- The truth is many healthcare businesses have to handle multiple datacenters which is not something that they wish to be involved in. So, more and more healthcare providers are now reaching out to colocation hosting providers or cloud based technologies for managing their IT infrastructures. There are several colocation hosts and private cloud vendors which satisfy HIPAA standards and various high-security compliance regulations. This is a positive change as healthcare enterprises will now no longer need to take on the task of managing private data centers.
- With more and more patients agreeing to use IoT devices and mobile apps for monitoring their overall health or fitness levels, and with more and more healthcare institutions using such devices there is obviously going to be an inflow of colossal amount of data which must be stored securely in resilient data centers. It is also important that such data centers are located closer to end-users to allow data to travel faster. It will help to lower network transporting costs and reduce network latency. Incidentally, a report by ACG Research found out that this can bring down company costs by nearly 50% across a 5-year period. Such newly created data centers to cater to patients and healthcare enterprises are called edge data centers.
- Studies show that many healthcare executives are implementing telemedicine within their enterprises. Those who are yet to use this technology are now making a beeline for it. Telehealth solutions are believed to bring down overall healthcare costs which will benefit healthcare companies and patients alike. With the growing popularity of telehealth technologies, the healthcare organizations will be expected to improve their network efficiency, lower latency issues and guarantee sufficient bandwidth to enable video communications.
- Cloud computing is growing into a new standard for health infrastructure with the technology passing from a new untested status to a tried-and-tested status. Cloud technologies are driving technological advancements and building new paradigms in the healthcare world. Use of cloud technologies in healthcare has actually tripled ever since 2014 due to the many ways in which organizations can leverage them. With the growing use of cloud technologies healthcare companies are finding it hard to maintain their IT staffs. Shortage of IT experts can halt implementation of new IT infrastructure technologies. So, healthcare companies are now on the lookout for the rightly qualified professionals for monitoring these new solutions. CIOs are seen to reach out to IT recruiters and they will perhaps make far more competitive salary offers that will be much higher than what they were offering two years back. The idea is to attract top talents with experience in Big Data and IoT, and cloud security.
- Finally, many healthcare companies are still not being able to capture as much data as they would need for population health management since they do not have enough storage. Their on-site servers are expensive to maintain and these occupy a lot of space. So, organizations are searching for quality hybrid solutions. Surveys have revealed that many organizations are not utilizing their analytics power since their current IT infrastructure cannot process or organize so much structured and unstructured information. So, such companies will now address their data center and warehousing issues by structuring their databases differently so as to store patient information.