Digital healthcare: Improving outcomes through cloud-based insight

by Mutaz Shegewi

Digital transformation in healthcare can no longer be ignored when seeking to improve outcomes. The convergence of “3rd Platform” technologies (big data and analytics, cloud, mobility and social) with innovation accelerators, such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things, continues to impact the industry landscape daily and bring new opportunities and challenges. IDC research shows worldwide spend on digital transformation technologies grew to nearly 2 trillion dollars this year and that the health industry (alongside retail) increased its spend faster than all other industries. Together with new nontraditional healthcare entrants into the industry and big moves from “big tech” companies, the industry has changed and will no longer be the same.

As organizations deploy digital platforms to get digital transformation done, the next step will be to realize revenue from digital offerings fully assimilated in a cloud-driven fabric. While cloud-based insights will empower healthcare organizations to realize better outcomes, organizations will further want to realize value from data that separates them from the crowd as thrivers, rather than survivors, in the race to innovate. To thrive and win, operating models must embrace cloud-based digital health platforms to fundamentally improve all aspects of services, experiences and operations. At the heart of this paradigm is a data integration and orchestration challenge to generate an intelligent core for the organization that will help it to rapidly evolve and adapt to industry drivers. Such drivers include the emerging autonomy of artificial intelligence, changes in the global populace, cyber insecurity and the digital trust crisis, rising consumer expectations, and challenges with retrofitting legacy systems into the digitally transformed world.

As providers, payers and life sciences companies seek new ways to stay ahead, they must also deliver on the expectations of far more sophisticated and empowered care-seeking consumers. Cloud-based insights can help deliver by cutting sideways across the priorities that matter for healthcare organizations, such as convenient access, financial and clinical risk management, data operationalization, and consumer-centricity. The second wave of electronic health records (EHR 2.0) marks a good example of a fast-emerging use case embracing cloud-based insight into the provider space, where platform plays introduce cutting-edge clinical documentation capabilities and analytics positioned to positively transform the physician experience, patient engagement, and value-based care. The future is about animating and automating workflows through better user experiences, system openness and value-based insights in a world where one size does not fit all.

Yet, the cloud has come a long way in healthcare over a short period of time. According to IDC Health Insights data, there is less apprehension now about security in the cloud. The majority of organizations believe the cloud offers better business continuity and should be leveraged as a security solution, as the benefits outweigh the risks. Furthermore, deep industry and technical expertise were revealed as key factors for organizations making the switch to the cloud. These are signs of an industry that seeks to move beyond the inefficient methodology and being bogged down in the mundane. Improving outcomes through cloud-based digital insights is forming a top-level strategic imperative for organizations looking to embed a better culture of digital care.

New questions will need to be answered on how the cloud can enable more meaningful, personalized, integrated and value-driven workflows through better insight. Digital health solutions must aim to optimize staff productivity, maintain financial sustainability, and create collaborative patient experiences to manage and maintain health. Such approaches would allow organizations to differentiate and compete more effectively in the market. Healthcare must learn to leverage the cloud in meaningful, efficient and cost-effective ways. Further, the industry will seek best practices on how to optimize provider, payer and life science workflows through better enabling privacy and reliability in the cloud “by design.” The next 5 years, will see the industry seek to answer such questions, address such challenges, and identify the best practices to support the needs of stakeholders to do “digital first” and become future-ready.

Mutaz Shegewi leads the provider research practice at IDC Health Insights covering topics of most relevance to healthcare provider organizations looking to digitally transform and become more digitally native than their competition. Mutaz advises the executive, clinical, and technical leadership of the world’s foremost health information technology supplier and buyer organizations by producing data-driven research and thought-leadership insights that help to navigate strategic challenges in health information technology and transform complexity to clarity in decision-making that would decrease costs, enhance quality, optimize access, improve patient safety, and champion patient experience. Mutaz is passionate about strengthening healthcare systems through the dynamic interrelations between technology, patients, and providers by combining industry, professional, academic, technical and global expertise in healthcare, policy, business, management, research, consulting, and medicine.


  1. Great article! There is indeed lesser apprehensions in adopting cloud storage systems by healthcare industry. Managing millions of electronic patient records, integrating health care and social information and developing the required infrastructure to connect a vast network of hospitals, clinics and surgeries is a challenging aspect in healthcare industry. Cloud computing can help in delivering effective solutions to these problems.

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