In conversation with Amit Gupta, Founder and CEO, Rapyder Cloud Solutions

With a huge population base, India’s healthcare sector undoubtedly generates large volumes of data. By leveraging cloudtech along with other digital technologies, the data is used to provide better patient care and expand research capabilities.

How cloud technology is changing the Indian Healthcare system?

Cloud computing has been playing a significant role since a very long time with its usage in health monitoring equipment, wearables, and IoT devices to collect patient related data. This data was used in diagnosis of diseases, treatment management and prevention, in an effective manner. At present, cloud technology and healthcare analytics are responsible for making delivery of healthcare services more efficient, besides helping in reducing costs.

With a huge population base, India’s healthcare sector undoubtedly generates large volumes of data. By leveraging cloudtech along with other digital technologies, the data is used to provide better patient care and expand research capabilities. Storing large amounts of data and accessing them in real-time with cloud platforms does provide valuable insights to doctors to make informed decisions. Further analysis of data sets will support in mapping disease control methods too. Moreover, cloud also provides the much needed flexibility and scalability according to the demand and volume. Pay-as-you-use model by cloud tech companies brings the cost advantage to the table. AI/ML, IoT and other emerging technologies are available on the cloud platform and can be leveraged successfully in preventive and predictive healthcare categories that are fast sought by the Indian population which is growing more health-consciousness. Infact, cloud computing has emerged as one of the smartest instruments in navigating the Covid-19 crisis.

What are the current challenges faced by the healthcare stakeholders during the time of Covid19?

The unprecedented Covid-10 pandemic crisis has undoubtedly caused more damage to lives and healthcare industry globally than anticipated. Need of the hour for the healthcare system is to address the challenges in diagnosing at the outset. Identifying suspected cases and ensuring faster diagnosis calls for better testing and infrastructure facilities. Speed and accuracy of the test report is another area to be focused on.

Doctors who are saving millions of lives are at a higher risk themselves and for their immediate family members as they continue to function in a vulnerable zone. Hospitals and healthcare institutions have to ensure that safety measures are put in place and strictly followed.

There is shortage of safety masks and PPEs across all geographic regions. Availability of these to all healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, administrators and other paramedic staff, will no doubt reduce the risk of spreading the infection significantly.

Fear of catching the infection has led to significant reduction in non-covid related treatments and surgeries leading to a huge hit on cash-flows, impacting financial and human resources significantly at all healthcare organizations.

Nonetheless, cloud solutions are being leveraged to fast track the healthcare response to Covid-19. We do hope this can lead to successfully developing and implementing innovative solutions to address the many challenges faced by the healthcare sector and population at large.

Major ways or trends of cloud computing is shaping the healthcare sector

According to Markets and Markets research, the healthcare cloud computing market is expected to grow from US$ 28.1 billion in 2020 to US$ 64.7 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 18.1% during the forecast period.

The key drivers for the growth include, high adoption of Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, IoT and wearable devices in healthcare.

Few trends of how cloud computing is shaping healthcare are captured below.

· Significant growth in cyber security and private cloud segment: Patient records are at great risk of getting leaked as they are highly targeted by hackers. Hospitals will opt for private cloud environment with tighter cyber security measures in place. This will be an integral part of their governance and risk management to ensure business continuity. Moreover, the increase in multi-cloud environment will bring about greater attention to security complexities and privacy issues. Blockchain implementation in the healthcare IT infrastructure will help to achieve data security to a great extent.

· Extensive use of AI/ML technologies: With large amounts of data available with healthcare organizations and hospitals, AI/ML technologies on cloud platform are increasingly being leveraged. This adoption is supporting in improving healthcare strategies and redefining how diseases are identified. Insights for diagnosis, treatment options and better patient outcomes are further gained. This option is also explored for decreasing costs as well.

· Influence of wearables and IoT devices is growing: Remote patient monitoring market, smart wearables, mobile healthcare apps, on-cloud, are being extensively used in health management. Heart rate, irregular heart rhythms, blood sugar levels, all this being captured on watches or fitness bands is more prevalent today.

· With the Covid-19 pandemic and growing health awareness, people are getting more health-conscious and want to detect health issues and if any, notify healthcare providers in real time, thereby driving the market growth for wearable devices. Internet of Medical Things involving sensor technology leverages cloud to store data and ensure remote interventions in real-time.

· Telehealth is poised to go mainstream: Pre-pandemic study had already shown the growing acceptance of telemedicine. Now with the fear of Covid-19 infection looming, healthcare consultants and patients are leveraging this cloud-influenced technology for treating ailments and this trend will grow exponentially in the coming days. Moreover, telemedicine can be successfully applied for bringing healthcare to remote and rural areas where physical healthcare facilities are scarce. Growth in home healthcare will be another trend that will become popular.

· Collaboration to boost treatment and patient outcomes: More hospitals are leaning towards adding value to their service offerings with respect to better patient outcomes. One of the routes followed is leveraging cloud computing to ensure collaboration between doctors, departments and even different institutions if need be. With cloud, data can be transferred easily among them to ensure providing of better and holistic treatment after considering different parameters.

How cloud technology along with Artificial Intelligence is supporting healthcare stakeholders (hospitals. Telemedicine facilitators diagnostics centers in India)

One of the fastest growing technology to support healthcare systems in a big way is cloud computing in combination with analytics, AI and digital technologies. This can be in the form of chatbots, analytics/predictive modelling or telemedicine. These are even fast-tracking healthcare response to Covid-19.

AI-powered, cloud-based tele-consulting systems can be used to substitute doctors and hospitals to some extent by providing medical information to patients. They can help assess symptoms and risk factors along with supporting in treating home-isolated patients. Tele-consulting reduces risk of any infection getting spread to healthcare workers.

Hospitals are able to respond swiftly to enquiries with accurate information, triage new patients and advice on further steps, such as check symptoms and book appointments by deploying healthcare bots and triage bots on their websites. Apps that deliver self-service conversation experience to enquiries are also enabled by healthcare organizations.

How is cloud safe to secure the patient's data?

Security and privacy concerns of data on cloud with the possibility of exposure to cyber-attacks do exist in the minds of leadership teams of organizations opting for cloud. However, cloud companies are now offering more secure access protocols and systems to address the concerns.

Patients’ records and related information have to be handled with utmost care with data security measures put in place in the cloud. The cloud platform should provide hospitals and healthcare organizations with data governance facilities, such that only authorized users are permitted to handle the data. Access and security controls along with tracking usage should be established to ensure patient’s data is secure.

How has Cloud, in combination with analytics, AI, and digital technologies, has become the catalyst for change in the healthcare industry?

Cloud in combination with analytics, AI and digital technologies is speeding up change in the healthcare industry.

· Data analytics and predictive models: Data that drives robust insights is recognized as a powerful medium to fight diseases including the Covid-19 pandemic. Data strongly helps in research and drug discovery areas too. Centralizing data which otherwise is in a disconnected format and providing easy access to analytics is possible due to cloud computing.

· Telemedicine with cloud computing: As remote healthcare or telehealth is getting readily accepted in the society, healthcare providers are exploring newer models of healthcare delivery and management. This has led to a significant growth of the telehealth services market. AI-powered cloud-based tele-consulting systems are taking some load off the doctors by providing medical information to patients upon assessing symptoms and risk factors. Tele-counselling also reduces infections to healthcare workers, ensuring better patient care. In the case of home-isolated Covid-19 positive patients, there is an increasing usage of cloud-hosted telemedicine and tele-monitoring.

· Cloud-powered bots: With huge number of enquiries on disease outbreak at hospitals, healthcare organizations do have the responsibility to respond quickly for further action. They are therefore leveraging healthcare bots and triage bots on their websites or apps to scale efforts and positively engage with the population at large. Bots can triage patient needs, check symptoms and book appointments as they are integrated with medical databases and protocols.

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