The growing matrix of IT innovation in healthcare, particularly Cloud Computing is paving way for the sector to be patient centric and handle the conventional challenges including shortage of doctors, equipments efficiently. In India alone, it is predicted that the cloud market will reach over US $3 billion by next year—an almost five-fold increase from 2012, explores Prathiba Raju of Elets News Network (ENN)
Healthcare sector is soaring high on the cloud wave, increasing the ambit of the cloud umbrella in India and across the globe. Cloud technology in India is estimated to be at $600 million by 2020. With doctors getting empowered to access patient information anytime, anywhere, ensuring complete picture of a patient’s medical history to doctors, cloud technology is changing the face of healthcare service delivery. According to industry experts the next big IT goal is cloud computing, which is expected to grow in the coming years, and has a big potential in India.
Making Rapid Strides
With only one doctor available per 1,700 citizens in India; while the Union Health Ministry claims that there are about 6 to 6.5 lakh doctors available currently in the country, the shortage is clearly evident. India would need about four lakh more doctors by 2020 to combat this shortage. As for hospital beds, roughly 100,000 hospital beds have been added annually. The paucity in the healthcare infrastructure in the country can be leveraged by innovative solutions, particularly the cloud solutions would help to upgrade and improve communication between patients and doctors in a more seamless manner.
According to a recent report by Gartner, cloud computing will constitute the bulk of IT spending by 2016. In India alone, it is predicted that the cloud market will reach over US $3 billion by next year—an almost five fold increase from 2012.
|Dr Neeraj Raj, Director, MediSysEdutech
“The total addressable opportunity for Cloud solutions in the Indian healthcare industry is estimated to become over US $600 million by 2020.”
“Most of the countries in Asia- Pacific region are grappling with the issue of shortage of doctors. In India specifically, the doctor-patient ratio is skewed with one doctor available for every 17,00 people, unlike in European countries. Use of IT in the healthcare domain can help bridge the shortage of doctors in the country and spread their reach beyond their local area of practice,” said Rahul Narang, Chief Technology Officer, Lybrate to Elets News Network (ENN).
Bridging the shortage of doctors is one major reason for IT healthcare development in India, while the non-availability and scattered data pertaining to healthcare is another area where technology can help play a key role.
Cloud Solutions – A Healthcare Enabler
Cloud solutions are getting bigger in the Indian healthcare industry as it facilitates the physicians to improve and upgrade their services rapidly, economically and with minimum interruption to service. Talking about the opportunities of Cloud, Dr Neeraj Raj, Director, MediSysEdutech said, “The total addressable opportunity for Cloud solutions in the Indian healthcare industry is estimated to become over US $600 million by 2020. The recent HIMSS Analytics’ survey of cloud computing adoption in healthcare provider organizations reveals that 83 per cent of IT executives reported that they were using cloud services.”
A report by Market and Markets sector, which studied the cloud market for the period of 2012-2017 in the Indian healthcare, has seen over 20.5 per cent growth a year. In 2011, only four per cent of the healthcare industry used cloud computing. Government of India’s initiative like Digital India and Make in India has also given a massive push in this regard and open avenues for a brighter future.
“Evolution of cloud technology in healthcare space is happening at rapid pace, we can expect major part of healthcare services to move on to cloud and this will enable healthcare providers to offer cost effective and efficient healthcare services. All major industries are moving to a digital platform, and healthcare is no exception and becoming more patientcentered and data-driven,” said Shireesh Sahai, CEO – India, Wolters Kluwer to Elets News Network (ENN).
Hospitals use cloud services to store pathology and other diagnostic reports (x-ray, etc.), maintain and store patient records/billing/ claims, integrate third-party or local applications (HIS, EHR, EMR, Drug Databases, and Clinical Decision Support System etc.) and connect all stake holders including patients.
Informing that cloud technology offers connected care and mobility solutions, which are cost effective and simple to use and its gradually gaining traction, Shibasish Pramanik, Associate Director, PwC India opined that only many private hospitals are adopting while government hospitals have huge limitation to take advantage of these solutions.
“The best results can only be achieved when the government hospitals and tier I and tier II hospitals adopt the technology. For that the hybrid network and good health care infrastructure is necessary. In IT innovations can’t be cheaper, quicker and faster. The technology can be adapted and upgraded gradually,” he added.
Cloud computing will constitute the bulk of IT spending by 2016. In India alone, it is predicted that the cloud market will reach over US $3 billion by next year—an almost five-fold increase from 2012
The PwC Health IT team informed that the IT revolution in healthcare should address the challenges in grass-root levels .The cloud technology sector as immense potential and digital healthcare can support a future where everyone can access healthcare in the way that it suits their lifestyle and budget.
“Cloud computing facilitates virtual medical records to be on cloud, enabling healthcare experts to have easy access to it from anywhere. With internet penetration in rural segment, people will have access to quality doctors in urban areas. The surge in the usage of smartphones in rural areas coupled with cloud computing will revolutionize Indian healthcare delivery,” Aditya Sinha, Principal Consultant of PwC Health IT team informed.
The opportunity for Cloud based solutions among Indian hospitals lies across the Cloud service (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS) and delivery model matrix (Private, Public, Hybrid). Across the three could delivery models, Private and Hybrid Cloud are expected to find greater acceptance among large hospitals. On the other hand, the Public Cloud is expected to find preference among small and medium hospitals for SaaS and IaaS.
Private Cloud Preferred to Public Cloud
It is a fact well known that the healthcare IT industry in India is a segment dominated with the presence of private players, so most of them prefer private and hybrid cloud rather than the public cloud and they are hesitant to move to the latter platform.
“The leakage of data is a big worry. However, by deploying proper processes these risks can be minimised to a great extent. Data is more vulnerable to leakage when on public cloud. However, virtual private cloud makes it much safer,” Narang informed.
Data security is a prime concern of healthcare sector; particularly the large-scale adoption of the cloud storage system has been in the new age healthcare start-ups, larger hospitals and diagnostic centers they are more protective about patient data, reliability and regulatory compliance.
Start-ups on Cloud Cover
Cloud is not only about storage, but companies can move their operations and applications on cloud. With booming start-ups and new healthcare ventures in health arena they are looking out for a web-based interface right from storage, manage, processing data which reduces costs. Cloud solutions cuts down the up-front costs like computer equipment, servers, software tools, database licenses and other IT equipment, leaving businesses with more capital at hand to invest on other business plans.
“Yes, it is true that healthcare ventures and start-ups are shifting to cloud, mobile technologies for the availability, reliability and scalability they provide. It is the economies of scale they offer that small business require to grow and they get best out of cloud technologies. With cloud technology, start-ups do not need to build their own IT infrastructure and burn energy on maintaining it. They can rely on cloud services being offered by third party resources and focus on their core job. The model is scalable and cost efficient for companies,” Narang informed.
Cloud transforms the economics of IT from capital–intensive to pay-as-you-go model and it offers flexibility and security required to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and gives a convenience like a large enterprise by this an equal opportunity is availed for both a startup and an established healthcare enterprise. Healthcare organisations of all sizes, across all geographies, can access information technology resources that previously were out of reach. World-class applications and computing infrastructure are available to all without considerable up-front investment.
Boosting the start-ups and SME cloud solutions also leverages the rural healthcare and the sector is also witnessing a considerable growth, inform experts.
Cloud Wave Boosts Rural Healthcare
With Internet penetration in rural segment, people will have access to quality doctors in urban areas. The surge in the usage of smartphones in rural areas coupled with cloud computing will revolutionise Indian healthcare delivery.
Such initiatives have been under progress like, HP is running Cloudenabled Micro Health Center solution in rural India. The make shift eHealth container centres equipped with cloud-integrated diagnostics called as HP workstations are built in shipping containers as successfully deployed in Chausala a remote village 128 kilometers from Chandigarh in Haryana. The Cloud-based HIMS solution also provides high quality data to city doctors and help them treat the cases through telemedicine.
While a Bengal based NGO Innovations in Health joining hands with John Hopkins Institute have build an Internet-based healthcare model, spurred by the need to use Shibasish Pramanik, Associate Director, PwC India “The best results can only be achieved when the government hospitals and tier I and tier II hospitals adopt the technology. For that the hybrid network and good health care infrastructure is necessary.” technology to detect diseases in rural areas by relatively less trained people. The kiosk with two health assistants, a coordinator and a network of cloud doctors dispense healthcare in lowcost, high quality and credible primary care at the grassroots.
Cloud solutions cut down the up-front costs leaving businesses with more capital healthcare organisations of all sizes, across all geographies, can access information technology. World-class applications and computing infrastructure are available to all without considerable up-front investment
Clouds Promising Effect on Healthcare
There is a surge of interest among healthcare institutions in cloud computing and large scale implementation of these technologies will improve productivity, and it would bring in healthcare delivery closer to the patients.
“Health organisations are transforming the way they serve their patients which has resulted in the rise of cloud computing in healthcare as it is not only cost-effective, but also easy to manage and more secure. As technology is being optimised to tailor solutions for better patient outcomes, both public and private sectors are exploring the benefits of cloud computing services. Though there is currently no data around the penetration of cloud computing in India, specifically, however, globally, according to a recent report by a leading research company, the Healthcare Cloud Computing Market for the period of 2015 to 2020 is pegged at US $9.48 billion,” Sahai informed Elets News Network (ENN).
Cloud solutions in health sector holds enormous potential it is yet to be unleashed. However, it will require careful development of a national cloud strategy and radical changes and improvement is needed in healthcare service delivery like poor Internet connectivity, lack of technical knowhow amongst the population, orthodox legal provisions. These restrict the growth of the e-health sector in India and deprive it from the benefits of technological advancement.