The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t just put healthcare providers at the centre of public consciousness; it has also highlighted the pressing need for digital transformation in the sector.
The impetus for change is both internal and external. Healthcare organisations face a particular challenge in accommodating practices such as remote working since for many, the concept is entirely new. As part of this, they must reckon with the transition to telehealth consultations and the need to ensure data and patient information remain secure. Under these fluid circumstances, they must now also find ways to work efficiently with governments and businesses to ensure seamless administration of the vaccine.
This transformation will be a steep process. At the moment, over a quarter of healthcare organizations run exclusively traditional, non-cloud-enabled datacentres—more than in any other industry, according to our latest Healthcare Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) report. The good news is that many have an ambitious five-year-plan to change this by switching to the hybrid cloud as the foundation for their operations. The added flexibility that this platform offers will mean they are able to face the switch to telehealth consultations with confidence. It also promises to help streamline processes such as invoicing and payments, and make it easier to collaborate with third parties such as governments, academics and businesses.
This is part of an increased focus on IT across the board. The report also uncovered that more than two thirds of healthcare organizations were looking at IT more strategically as a result of the pandemic.
As in many industries, Covid-19 has speeded up change that was already on the cards. According to research by CyberPeace Foundation, nearly 80 lakh attacks were recorded between October 1 and November 25, 2021, on a network for the healthcare sector. This increase in cyber-attacks during the pandemic put further pressure on healthcare systems to ensure a robust security framework.
Further challenges the industry faces include expanding preventive healthcare practices; speeding up research, and implementing a value-based system that truly prioritises patient health outcomes.
These issues obstruct the industry from fulfilling its ultimate purpose—to save lives. The effective adoption of technology will be central to allowing healthcare professionals to focus on what matters most. Bearing in mind the need for agility, flexibility and control, healthcare organisations recognise the need to build that technology on hybrid or multicloud models.
This approach will also help position the industry for further innovation in areas such as AI, IoT, AR, VR and robotics, which are likely to play an increasing role in enhancing both operational efficiency and patients’ experience.
This transformation in the industry is not far off- leading healthcare providers in India are already seeing major changes with hybrid and multicloud. Sakra World Hospital (Sakra), a multispeciality hospital in Bangalore, reached a point where the three-tier infrastructure underpinning its healthcare systems became a barrier to further development. The number of patient appointments that could be booked each day was reduced because of time lost retrieving data from the electronic patient records system. Patient satisfaction was also hampered by the inconvenience of having to wait minutes for medical fees to be calculated in the billing system.
By migrating its systems to enterprise cloud, Sakra was able to use IT as an enabler once more for improving patient outcomes- clinicians could access data in seconds not minutes, and billing became quick. The hospital cut their total cost of ownership by 35 percent and launched multiple telehealth applications to help reduce the disruption of Covid-19. Operationally, the switch also helped Sakra to refocus resources away from routine infrastructure management and cut administration time by about 57 percent.
Technology should always be about making things better for people, and there are few areas where it can have more meaningful impact than healthcare. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the necessity for digital transformation within the healthcare sector, and revamping IT infrastructure will no doubt help in delivering the innovative solutions required by patients. While invisible, the hybrid cloud will serve as the basis of better service, and ultimately better health across India.
Faiz Shakir is the Director and Country Head, Enterprise & Commercial Business, India and SAARC, Nutanix
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