According to the International Data Corporation, expenditure on Cloud infrastructure should reach 40.1 billion dollars this year, before expanding to 266 billion dollars by 2021.
40 billion dollars this year and 266 billion dollars in four years’ time. These rather dizzying figures illustrate the growth in migrations towards cloud architecture, with even hospitals migrating more and more of their internal data centres towards cloud solutions.
Rigidity of current internal data centres
Hospitals’ internal data centres contain all patient medical data as well as administrative management data for the healthcare centre. A team of technical specialists ensures that the equipment functions correctly and guarantees data security. This ageing infrastructure is costly to install, maintain and run, and any modifications needs to be meticulously planned so as not to disrupt the provision of care.
When traditional architecture of this kind houses varied and increasing amounts of data, it tends to create "silos" – a term used to designate databases and systems which are isolated from and incapable of communicating with one another, as well as being painstaking to update. Sharing the data, extracting part of it or having systems communicate requires creating a tailored application – a costly solution and one which makes the system even more inflexible.
Cloud provides more flexibility
Cloud architecture on the other hand is built around the interconnection of data. It is particularly suited to the health sector, which by definition has numerous users, multiple interactions and various data sets from different sources. Another argument in favour of the Cloud is that it remains accessible to all health users in real time, is easy to update and requires no intermediaries.
With no more hardware to maintain, dedicated rooms or specialist employees, the Cloud is a guaranteed way of cutting costs. It also provides more flexible management, as the architecture can easily be increased when needed, with experts taking care of updates and maintenance, not to mention no more tailored software solutions that are cumbersome to manage and maintain.
Better data security
Healthcare centres are not always convinced by the benefits of the Cloud, and this is very much an issue of confidence. The delocalisation of data has always been synonymous with handing over control, and the security risks appear more important when dealing with particularly sensitive and confidential data.
Where, therefore, has this recent turnaround come from? "I think that the change that we are seeing today is linked to the fact that the health industry has realised that the Cloud is not only sufficiently secure for medical data, but that it actually offers increased security than is possible within a hospital itself," explains Paul Butler, director of Top Tier Consulting. The growing number of cyberattacks requires security experts, firewalls and a complete protection and surveillance system that most hospitals simply cannot afford, making it an easy choice to entrust the data to specialists.
The Cloud also enables data to be saved remotely and then called up, guaranteeing continuity of services. This is an issue of critical importance for healthcare centres, and nowhere more so than in sites such as the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, just 11 kilometres away from the San Andreas Fault.
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