Cloud computing is beginning to play a larger role in the healthcare industry. From bring your own device to cloud-based solutions that improve response times during public health crises, healthcare is experiencing the same IT landscape changes that many businesses have seen over the past few years.
One example of using cloud computing services to provide information to help healthcare professionals prepare for a major public health crisis can be observed in Draper Laboratory's new efforts.
Draper's cloud-based program, Collaborative Overarching Multi-feed Biosurveillance System (COMBS), accumulates public data from open source information, blogs, social media sites, search trends and traditional health information to produce a dynamic data stream that contains diverse information, according to BioPrepWatch.
This system, entirely based in the cloud, enables the healthcare industry to utilize tools for data visualization and interpretation, providing an innovative and effective way for public health officials to access real-time information, which can allow for faster decision making during a health crisis.
Last year, the Obama administration issued the National Biosurveillance Science and Technology Roadmap, which mandates improved biosurveillance capabilities to advance response abilities in the event of natural and man-made threats including biological weaponry, SARS and H1N1 viruses. The goal is to provide analysis prior to such an event, as opposed to current capacities that only allow for analytics after a health crisis.
"COMBS enables the collection, use and analysis of real-time data to monitor conditions affecting human, animal and environmental health," according to the source. "Because of the way humans are attracting new diseases from animals, this approach is particularly essential in developing countries."
BYOD in healthcare
Cloud computing and its role in BYOD are also creating changes in the healthcare industry, according to FierceHealthIT.
The IT department at Beaufort Memorial Hospital in S.C., started to notice that doctors and nurses were communicating through unencrypted text messages from their personal mobile devices. After this realization, IT implemented BYOD policies since these unencrypted messages violated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability compliance.
During the March 2013 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference, a focus group stated mobile devices were the biggest challenge in healthcare IT. Additionally, a HealthcareInfoSecurity survey noted that 58 percent of respondents allowed BYOD, but only 46 percent encrypted stored data. Virtualization was also found to be one of the technologies experiencing a rapid adoption rate.
As the healthcare industry encounters IT changes and growing demands, cloud-based computing and BYOD policies will become integral to healthcare.