If data were absolutely crucial to the success of your business, and someone offered you a way to store, access, and analyze it that’s faster, better, and cheaper than what you’ve been doing for decades, chances are you’d switch. So it’s no surprise that healthcare-related businesses have joined the revolution and switched from on-premise IT infrastructures to cloud computing. What, exactly, does the clinical research industry stand to gain from the cloud?
Benefits of being in the cloud
To be clear, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”). Cloud computing lets healthcare organizations focus on healthcare rather than data centers, real estate to house them, and skilled professionals to maintain and operate them.
Cloud computing is on the rise in healthcare as physicians, hospital administrators, and patients demand cost efficiency, data access, and security. These needs drove $3.73 billion in healthcare spending on cloud services in 2015 and will nearly triple that number to $9.5 billion by 2020.1
What benefits besides cost savings do organizations get for that investment? As a computing platform, the cloud is secure, maintaining the confidentiality of patient information; scalable, allowing economic growth as the data set increases and performance needs change; and collaborative, enabling researchers to work with external partners.
What about clinical research?
Cloud computing is one of the foundation technologies of Medrio’s products. As a category, cloud-based EDC solutions:
- Save money - For CROs, a cloud-based approach saves money with lower start-up and ongoing costs: It eliminates the need for companies to build a computing infrastructure to store and serve data, requires no programming, and reduces costs by reducing timelines for studies. Lower costs make a cloud-based solution a particularly good fit for innovative smaller companies and for studies with limited budgets.
- Improves efficiency - Because there’s no need to install and maintain software for managing studies, clinical researchers can focus their attention and resources on building and managing studies and collecting data, rather than on IT issues.
- Enhances data sharing - Cloud computing makes sharing even very large files easier and more accessible, which boosts efficiency and facilitates collaboration.
Opening doors to new services
Healthcare organizations are also using the cloud to host patient engagement tools—another key driver of the revolution. For example, healthcare providers are increasingly using cloud-based applications to put resources into the hands of patients that will allow them to educate themselves, monitor their own health, and store and share their health records.
The revolution doesn’t stop there—cloud computing in healthcare also:
- Makes possible a “big data” approach to mining terabytes of unstructured data from many different, real-world data sources—something that wouldn’t be possible with data stored on a single server.
- Enables organizations to store virtually unlimited amounts of data, and to do so at a lower cost compared to on-premise storage. This is a particular advantage for moderately sized organizations like many CROs or smaller hospitals.
- Speeds up medical research by enabling data analysts to pool outside data from multiple fields and provide faster, more-complete answers to key questions.
The cloud revolution is already delivering an excellent return on investment to the healthcare industry, and that return will only grow as more organizations join the revolution and healthcare-related data becomes more secure, accessible, and valuable.