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The healthcare industry is one of the most challenging to transform. It has lots of legacy systems with vast amounts of highly sensitive, personalized information and is beset by funding challenges. All in an environment where time pressure is a key driver in delivering accurate and safe healthcare to save lives. Furthermore, many governments face countless issues in their quest for a digitized health service. Reasons: a reduction in resources, an insufficiently networked database, rising expectations and an escalating demand for digitized services. We covered this topic in our previous blog.
All of the above places the current models of healthcare under increasing strain. As our report ‘The Future of Healthcare’ found, there is increasing pressure to consistently deliver a better service to patients. This is challenging clinical CIOs to be innovative to deliver true patient-centric care. It’s a role many are already aware of. A Forbes Insight report found that 46% of CIOs say their function will be essential to fostering innovation within their companies. And they are going to do this. Not by being focused on hardware procurement and management, but by focused on the results. What can I deliver to my clinicians and patients? That means they want access to services that can be deployed and integrated quickly.
The cloud fueled healthcare revolution
This acceleration in digital service provision is being fueled by the power of cloud solutions. They change the way hospitals deliver quality, cost-effective services to their patients through easing the journey of digital transformation. By improving the development, management, security and integration of apps and data, cloud is now the backbone of modern healthcare.
This is the power of a multi-cloud strategy. The end game isn’t the cloud. It’s getting the application into the hands of the user as fast and as securely as possible. The users are the doctor, the nurse, the carer and the patient. Behind the scenes, choice of cloud – private, public, hybrid, Edge -shouldn’t matter. But complexity has set in as now organisations are using multiple clouds: on average eight clouds. Application development and management have also become more complex than ever before: traditional apps, cloud- native, SaaS, services. All organizations are now reliant on running infrastructure that can deal with these rapid changes, can scale and can handle new types of workload.
A true multi-cloud experience means you can create, run, manage, connect and protect any app, across any cloud, at speed. In our view, it is the reduced complexity but increased effectiveness that really shows why our strategy delivers. It can support the development and operations of cloud and container-based apps, continue to drive cost out of existing on-premises workloads, and even connect and control existing apps and data sources with new, cloud-native ones to create value in innovative ways.
Cloud driving outcome-focused thinking
The biggest impact that cloud technologies have had on healthcare has been that the focus has been exclusively on the outcome, not on how to develop, install, build and manage it. This is especially true when it is unclear how the use or adaptation of a particular application will evolve, and the question of the necessary scaling cannot be answered clearly. Suddenly it is possible for specialist departments to publish applications independently, to use the services offered externally or to carry out certain studies without long delays, although this can add pressure to IT when the department and IT are not working hand in hand. However, the benefits do not end there:
1. It is ‘sign up and go’
Simple set up time is much faster than deploying on-premise IT. For healthcare organisations needing to access a return quickly, this could prove decisive.
2. It empowers innovation
Secondly the speed and simplicity allow access to applications that deliver the intuitive experience employees have come to expect from the digital tools they use outside of the workplace. The cloud removes the technology and the complexity of IT and instead puts focus on what that tool delivers to them or their patients. They can also use services which are simply not available on-premise today and would be complex to implement. For example a big data algorithm for researchers which they can simply book and tweak as long as they need it.
3. It delivers financial freedom
In some instances, hospitals have to make large investments upfront instead of using a pay-as-you go model. Where this isn’t the case, cloud can alter that dynamic, giving healthcare organisations the full flexibility of both capital (capex) and operational (opex) expenditure models. In an era of cash-strapped health services, this will enable them to deliver new levels of care at a much more economical rate, tailored to the needs of the hospital.
4. It scales rapidly
Organisations can scale up and down their resources according to operational demand, quickly and without a high cost of change. This means you can align a wide spectrum of finite resources, including people and technology, to shifting priorities daily. And irrespective of the type or origin of app or cloud, one consistent set off tools can prevent silos and re-skilling every time there is a technology change.
5. It offers shortcuts
Whether it is prebuilt platforms or ‘as-a-service’ solutions, chances are a version of whatever is needed already exists somewhere. If healthcare organisations only have to develop a part of their offering from scratch and can augment it with off-the-shelf (proven) components that already exist, it can cut time and cost drastically.
VMware the key to a multi-cloud future and smarter healthcare
The advent of a hybrid world between on-premise systems and multi-cloud stacks will mean that healthcare organisations will become increasingly used to simply consuming IT services without worrying about how they will be delivered or managed – just as we don’t worry about how power is generated, managed and provided from an outlet. However, there are still many questions, such as the security and data protection requirements. Ultimately, the pressure to use cloud services that also use critical patient data is likely to come through governments interested in providing healthcare across borders to their citizens and minimizing costs, or through software vendors interested in making their software easily available via cloud services.
Different cloud providers and SaaS offerings will deliver elements of a digital strategy. But only VMware delivers the full end to end digital backbone needed to develop and build a multi-cloud solution. It is our software-enabled digital foundation that is enabling healthcare organisations to create, run, manage, connect and intrinsically protect applications, across any cloud, at speed – thus realising the vision of a multi-cloud future.
Guest blog by Louise Fellows, Director, Public Sector UK&I