Cloud Based EHR software for Clinical Care in Emerging Countries
Cloud technology is pervasive in developed countries, and even the most secure industries are working on shifting much of their operations and information to the cloud. The 2017 report Impact of Cloud Computing on Healthcare, Version 2.0 demonstrates why cloud computing will become the global standard for medical care over the coming decades. However, emerging countries stand to benefit disproportionately from the implementation of cloud solutions simply because many of them have the ability implement these solutions easily without having to overcome challenges and barriers in countries with existing technological and operational processes in place. They can leapfrog to the cloud directly – which is generally a less expensive and more powerful solution.
Cloud technologies in a healthcare setting has many advantages that makes it a vital tool in providing healthcare in resource-depleted regions. Some of the benefits were recently illustrated by Sanford World Clinic with their implementation of blueEHR, which was completed in clinics across the entire Africa continent in under 30 days. Several key advantages are covered briefly here.
Portability – Unlike traditional, costly medical equipment, many of the platforms that run on the cloud can be installed on most off-the-shelf mobile devices. While this has, at times, posed a challenge for regions without sufficient network coverage, some cloud based software applications allow its users to continue using it while offline, and then automatically synchronize data when a network becomes available.
Versatility – Since cloud configurations are generally easy to change, the platforms often allow for configurations that comply with all local regulations and restrictions. They also often include multiple languages in order to accommodate the region. This makes them customizable for any country.
Integration – Some of the cloud based software offer the ability to integrate with third party applications that can be used for diagnostics or medication management, among other things. This ability to integrate will become increasingly important given the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), including those related to clinical care.
Scalability – Scalability is no longer a struggle between how much an institution can afford versus how much they could grow. With cloud hosting, a scalable solution is there, allowing clinics with even small budgets to only pay for what they need and what they use and add-on incrementally, if necessary.
Security – The primary concern with cloud based systems has always been that data hosted outside of an organization’s network may be at greater threat than data held within the network. This model of thinking is outdated and is no longer accurate. Cloud networks are large, and they are almost all growing very rapidly. They are slowly becoming the only option that can retain the necessary resources (equipment and personnel) that can keep data truly secure.
Efficiency – Cloud technologies can integrate many different clinical operations into one centralized solution. By automating processes such as inventory management, the entire business begins to operate more efficiently, allowing the clinic to focus on delivering the best patient care possible.
Innovation – Many open-source solutions operate on the cloud, and this provides the opportunity for innovation by those individuals who are on the ground, dealing with the challenges of delivering quality care in a low-resource environment.
Empowered Decision Making – Analytics from many sources may be pulled together on the cloud to give medical administrators a broad view of the entire clinical landscape, including challenges that need to be addressed or efficiencies that can be leveraged.
Simplicity – Cloud technology is generally easier to install, maintain and update than traditional network components. It can often be done by the end user, in conjunction with the host company.
Affordability – Perhaps the largest benefit to cloud technology is the availability of it at a much lower cost than the implementation of traditional networks. This levels the playing field for providers with few resources and opens up their budgets by allowing more money to be spend on the delivery of care.
— VladK (@MedGizmo) September 8, 2018
Most medical and health data and operations will eventually move to the cloud. This is inevitable as it provides so many benefits, with very few drawbacks. This is especially true for emerging countries as cloud technology offers a way to deliver a far better standard of care without needing costly equipment and personnel.
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