Role of the trusted cloud in transforming healthcare in Asia

By Gabe Rijpma, Senior Director Health & Social Services, Microsoft Asia 

The global healthcare industry faces mounting challenges, and in Asia, an ever-expanding number of patients, shifting demographics and broader awareness of health issues are contributing to need for digital transformation.

As the region is home to more than half of the world’s population, healthcare demand will continue to outstrip supply for the foreseeable future. It is no wonder then that the healthcare industry worldwide has started on digitization to change the way services are delivered, while ensuring improved patient care and patient outcomes.

Today, digital transformation projects in the industry have helped ease the workload of healthcare workers, allowing them to work on improving patient care outcomes. Electronic medical records are providing new insights to doctors, wearable technology is enabling the processing of vital medical information from patients to care teams in real-time. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals can better communicate and collaborate via cloud-based productivity tools that take the uncertainty or hassle out of old processes. In these scenarios, cloud computing enables data to be ubiquitous across devices, operating systems and even locations.

But there is still a lot more that healthcare providers can do.

Microsoft Asia recently commissioned a study to understand the state of digital transformation amongst healthcare organizations across Asia Pacific. The Study, which polled 247 healthcare leaders from Asia Pacific, showed that only a quarter of business leaders polled have a full digital transformation strategy. Fortunately, majority of them have identified cloud computing as a key technology stack for their digital transformation strategy.

Let’s look at five key benefits that healthcare organizations can gain from adopting cloud technologies in their line of work:

1. Cost efficiencies
73% of healthcare leaders from the Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study said that cloud computing and the decreasing cost of devices have made it more affordable for them to embark on a digital transformation journey.

The use of cloud services enables significant cost savings through more efficient allocation of an organization’s resources by moving from a CAPEX to an OPEX model. For healthcare providers, cloud can provide the scalability and elasticity necessary to meet peak demand periods without requiring a healthcare organization to maintain fixed levels of IT resources year-round.

2. Delivering more mobile healthcare services
With the rise of mobile healthcare services delivered, accessibility of information across borders becomes increasingly important for organizations. With cloud computing, healthcare organizations can benefit from an always-on, high availability, distributed computing and storage platform, allowing 24/7 access to the right data for the right patient at the right time equates to better patient outcomes.

3. Innovation and development
Cloud also enables organizations to build new, innovative applications that can be scaled across devices and locations. With the flexibility and scalability enabled by cloud computing, healthcare organizations can improve their care continuum through the development of applications and services that better engage patients and empower care teams. Such applications can also be developed, launched and deployed in a matter of weeks, or even days.

4. Unlock data insights
The ability to keep pace with and generate real-time and breakthrough insights from data requires greater compute power. For most hospitals, research labs and other biological sciences facilities, it is too costly to invest in necessary computing capability to analyze the sheer volume of data which is growing exponentially. Adopting cloud enables healthcare organizations to unlock real-time insights in a shortened timeframe, and ultimately shorten the time-to-market delivery of new medical treatments and services.

For example, Silver Chain in Australia deployed Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution to allow real-time patient reporting and ensuring improved transparency of patient care.

5. Security
Cloud adoption in the healthcare industry is still in the initial stages, and one major misconception most healthcare leaders have is that on-premises solutions are still more secure than the cloud.

On the contrary, a global cloud services provider has the resources to deploy and maintain state of-the-art security technology, and employ the world’s leaders in cybersecurity. In addition, the massive cloud scale and broad geographical presence means that can detect emerging threats quickly and address issues before they gain traction.

When organizations turn to a global cloud services provider, they inherit the compliance certifications and standards work already put in place for organizations around the globe. In fact, a Microsoft Asia Pacific survey of 1,200 IT leaders conducted in September 2016 found that 87% believe the cloud is safer. Fundamentally, maintaining cybersecurity is about staying multiple steps ahead of the hackers, and it boils down to an organization’s own approach to cybersecurity.

With Microsoft, healthcare organizations can be assured that we conform to global standards in security and compliance to deliver on both technology and trust. In Australia, Bendigo Hospital has deployed Microsoft Azure to host its digital medical records, test results and treatment records in a central, accessible and trusted environment, allowing care providers access to the service they require from any device at anytime, anywhere.

What’s next for Asia’s healthcare organizations in their digital transformation journey?

At the end of the day, the healthcare industry is all about enhancing patient care and outcomes. With emerging digital and cloud technologies, healthcare leaders now have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the ability to a whole new level.

We recently launched a whitepaper, “Digital Transformation for Healthcare in Asia”, to examine the state of digital transformation in Asia’s healthcare industry, factors and barriers, as well as the role of the trusted cloud as an essential part of healthcare providers’ digital transformation strategy. We hope the whitepaper will serve as a guide to help leaders of healthcare providers, governments and healthcare policy makers navigate and take advantage of emerging digital and cloud technologies, to digitally transform and thrive in the coming years.