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Real-world data – a game-changer for healthcare cloud computing

Real-world data – a game-changer for healthcare cloud computing

The global market for healthcare cloud computing (revenue generated by cloud computing services offered to providers) will be worth approximately US$10 billion by 2021, according to research by Frost & Sullivan.

The firm's Healthcare Cloud Computing Outlook, Global, 2016 -2021 report has analysed key growth opportunities, business models, challenges, drivers and industry-specific solutions being introduced using cloud platforms.

It has identified the need to store the exponentially increasing volume of healthcare data as a primary driver of growth in this market.

"One major industry game-changer will be real-world data. The volume of unstructured medical and health data that is generated outside of clinical settings is growing exponentially, while the need for such data sets is even direr among providers, pharmaceuticals, medical technology vendors, governments, and university researchers," said Digital Health Research Manager Natasha Gulati. "Growing awareness of the benefits of open platforms and increasing industry focus on interoperability and collaborative solution design are creating a huge demand for vertically integrated cloud platforms that open the data to multiple stakeholders who are willing to share the risks and the rewards of shared data assets."

The SAS Institute believes the rise of big data and advanced analytics has raised the potential for global health services to more easily track, control and eliminate possible pandemics.

Tracking data from healthcare workers and hospitals, social media, as well as transportation information is key to managing potential pandemics, but it is also very much a reactive use of analytics the company explains.

Aneshan Ramaloo, Senior Business Solutions Manager at SAS, said when it comes to dealing with chronic diseases, there are also numerous proactive ways of using analytics.

"For example, big data and advanced analytics is now being widely used in cancer research. Analytics has helped medical professions better understand the various lifestyle factors that contribute to cancer as well as assisting with early diagnosis, so that patients can be treated more quickly," he added

Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Advisor at SAP Africa, said recently that Africa has 24% of the world's occurrence of disease, but only 3% of its healthcare workers and less than 1.5% of global healthcare budget is spent on African soil.

"As smartphones become more prevalent, citizens may be able to take photos of for example a skin lesion, upload it to a central cloud database, and receive a remote diagnosis. Iris scanners could identify signs of diabetes, while drones could be deployed to deliver urgent medical supplies to remote areas," said Carpenter.

"Our greatest opportunity lies in the combinatorial nature of these technologies. The answer to better healthcare in Africa does not rest on the success of any single technology: instead, it is in how we put different pieces together to develop solutions that are relevant, affordable, and effective in Africa," he continued.

Research by Frost & Sullivan suggests that hospitals, physician practices, and other facets of the continuum of care will rapidly adopt cloud-based platforms to improve data and application access, enhance interoperability, and manage, store, and archive a wide range of health data for the enterprise.

Applications that leverage de-identified patient information - collated from and analysed at multiple points of care - are an important growth opportunity.

"An increasing number of providers are opting to build versus buy when it comes to their organisational applications. In the past few years, there have been significant investments in internal apps that integrate with electronic health records (EHRs), with the United States taking the lead in this area," noted Gulati. "Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers greater control over custom apps developed by providers compared to Software as a Service (SaaS), while it reduces the costs as well as data location and ownership concerns associated with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Increasing demand for mobile apps, from both clinical staff and patients further fuels the need for custom app development."

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