Using the Cloud to Drive Healthcare Outcomes

Author: Matt Ferrari
Co-Founder and Former CTO

In early October, I attended the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo in Orlando. As I consider the future of our healthcare solutions, the view of analysts in the market provides important insights that help guide our strategic direction. Gartner is a key analyst and partner for ClearDATA, focusing on enterprise technologies and trends. I specifically attended the Symposium in order to learn the latest in healthcare cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), data science, and healthcare analytics. The event had just over 7,500 IT business leaders, and highlighted some of the key technology partners within the Gartner ecosystem.

In past years, healthcare industry discussions centered on security and compliance in the cloud, the migration of critical healthcare applications to public cloud, and popular trends around Electronic Medical Records (EMR), population health, and interoperability. This year, however, the conversation has shifted. Healthcare organizations are no longer talking about the adoption of the public cloud in general, or as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), but instead they are focusing on how to utilize the public cloud to drive healthcare outcomes.

Public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), have progressed in the field of analytics, artificial intelligence, and internet of things, through both third-party partner technology as well as native cloud services. This is leading to healthcare organizations’ adoption of services such as AWS EMR, Athena, Kinesis, and Redshift to analyze Protected Health Information (PHI) data to make meaningful change in healthcare. For example, imagine using analytics and machine learning tooling to discover a dangerous allergic reaction before a diagnosis is made, or utilizing data to prevent someone from getting sick in the first place. Data-driven personalized healthcare is the future.

And, while I was there to focus on healthcare trends, the Symposium covers all industries. It is important to know what is going on in each of these industries, as many of these trends will find their way into the healthcare industry at some point. Gartner’s research findings list these as major trends for 2017/18:

  • Consumers favor visual and voice search. By 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.
  • Digital giants self-disrupt. By 2020, 5 of the top 7 digital giants will willfully self-disrupt to create their next leadership opportunity.
  • Legitimized cryptocurrencies. By the year 2020, the banking industry will derive $1B of business value from the use of blocked-based cryptocurrencies.
  • Increased Fake News. By 2022, the majority of individuals in mature economies will consume more false information than true information.
  • Counterfeit reality overtakes reality. By 2020, AI-driven creation of “counterfeit reality,” or fake content, will outpace AI’s ability to detect it, fomenting digital distrust.
  • Bots take over. By 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more per annum on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development.
  • Versatility wins over specialization. By 2021, 40% of IT staff will be “versatilists” holding multiple roles, most of which will be business rather than technology-related.
  • IoT in everything. By 2020, IoT technology will be in 95% of electronics for new product designs.
  • Assume IoT security vulnerabilities. Through 2022, half of all security budgets for IoT will go to fault remediation, recalls and safety failures rather than protection.

While these are broad findings, many of these will have a deep effect on how healthcare IT is delivered in the future. For example, by 2020, Internet of Things (IoT) technology will be in 95 percent of electronics for new product designs. As it relates to healthcare, this is already becoming heavily applicable in medical device technology, powered by the public cloud.

It is worth noting that while most healthcare leaders recognize this shift to technology, many are concerned about job elimination as public cloud becomes more meaningful beyond infrastructure. Gartner estimates that in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), by 2020 AI will have created 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating only 1.8 million…that’s a net growth of 500,000 jobs!

The truth is, the traditional Healthcare IT system administrator will be the most successful if he/she evolves their training, knowledge, and in turn, career to embrace these new technologies and approaches. How to use and evaluate data, a la data scientist, is predicted to be a future role in VERY high demand, per Gartner. Healthcare has a key opportunity to adopt many of these transformative cloud services, but it’s going to take work. Thinking about cloud adoption in healthcare outside of the box, moving away from traditional cloud workloads and into driving data decisions that can truly save lives is the future of healthcare…and it’s a very exciting future!

Interested in learning more? Check out the Five Trends Impacting Healthcare in 2020.

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