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Atlantic.Net 2021 Predictions: US Healthcare Organizations will rapidly propel IT workloads to the Cloud

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

By Marty Puranik, President and CEO of Atlantic.Net

In 2021, US Healthcare Organizations will rapidly propel IT workloads to the Cloud

2020 has been one of the most challenging years for healthcare professionals, perhaps the most challenging time in the modern era of medicine. COVID-19 has turned the world on its head, but it has cemented the fact that cloud computing is an absolute necessity to keep the US healthcare industry functioning during the pandemic.

The healthcare sector has historically been slow to react to technology changes, this is likely due to concerns over the privacy and security of patient health information. It is expected that 2021 will see rapid growth in HIPAA compliant hosting of healthcare workloads, growth that is being driven by the need for healthcare organizations to adapt, change and evolve to a technology orientated approach to patient care in a post-COVID-19 world.

The unique impact created by COVID-19 has introduced major regulatory changes in the US, as well as impacting the day-to-day lives of medical professionals. Non-emergency medical practices were forced to close, and support staff informed to work from home.

This created unique challenges, testing the viability of the whole system, and testing disaster recovery and business continuity planning to the maximum extent. Many already had remote work capabilities, but with COVID-19, this capability was tested in what some were calling the "world's largest work-from-home experiment".

For the healthcare organizations that had already migrated core business services to the cloud prior to the pandemic, it is fair to say that the overwhelming majority are still coping well. The dedicated cloud hosting industry has certainly emerged stronger from the pandemic, and sector growth is expected to augment over the coming years.

Into 2021, there will be four key areas that are driving growth in the sector. We have already seen these take off in Q3 2020, but in 2021 we expect these technologies to thrive:

  • Wearable Technology
  • Internet of Medical Things
  • Telehealth
  • Data Analytics

Wearable Technology

The introduction of social distancing measures, and with the cancelation of most face-to-face consultations, medical professionals are distributing greater numbers of wearable technology to enable detailed remote patient monitoring. One study suggests approximately "12% of the world population currently use a connected health device", that's millions of people.

Collected data is either downloaded after a treatment cycle or in some cases, uploaded directly over the cloud VPS. Wearable tech is everywhere; smartwatches, smart glasses, and smartphones, all working seamlessly together to send detailed metrics to a secure platform.

We predict that this technology will continue to grow into 2021 and in a post-COVID-19 world. The technology limits the amount of contact needed between patient and medical professionals, but it also creates significant data interoperability advantages.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Healthcare has widely welcomed IoT technology, it is often known as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). The technology has several everyday uses, monitoring patients is already common practice; and modern medical equipment already transmits test results autonomously around a hospital network.

With the reduced interaction between medical staff and patients, the adoption rate of IoMT is expected to grow significantly in 2021. Medical devices such as CT Scanners, X-ray machines, and MRI scanners can be remotely monitored by IoMT, and results can be shared between medical practices, patients, and insurance companies.

The ability to track medical equipment within a hospital empowers the hospital administration to know the exact location of their portable medical equipment on the hospital grounds. Any hardware issues are automatically reported and "dialed home" to an engineer, allowing key workers to visit the site safely and make repairs.

Telehealth

The use of telehealth, sometimes known as telemedicine, has accelerated dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020. The technology has allowed healthcare professionals to deliver front line medical services to patients despite local surgeries and hospital departments being forced to close down.

HIPAA-compliant telemedicine has thrived and video conferencing with patients is proving very popular. At the peak of the pandemic, US hospital emergency room visits were down 42%, and we have seen a seismic shift towards telephone and video conferencing appointments becoming the de facto choice for patient consultation.

On the 17th March 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that enforcement discretion and waiving penalties for HIPAA violations would be introduced. According to the HHS, medical professionals were authorized to use third party tools for video conferencing such as Let's Talk, Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype. This change enabled the provisioning of telehealth services without the risk of the OCR seeking to impose penalties for using a non-compliant provider.

This regulatory change was only ever intended to be temporary, but we predict it will continue into 2021. This rule might eventually be redacted, forcing practices to look elsewhere for a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing. Either way, this will drive significant growth.

Data Analytics

The technology that binds what we have discussed so far is data analytics or big data. Our day-to-day life is saturated with health data, and the industry will be looking to take advantage of the immense volumes of data produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will become even more relevant post-COVID-19, now that the landscape of clinical outpatient care has diversified from in-person consultations to telemedicine and remote monitoring.

Connected health will flourish into 2021 and beyond. This includes wearable devices but also online support networks. Cloud computing will fuel this growth as almost limitless amounts of data can be ingested from personal health devices. Data analytics can produce tangible predictions and statistics using big data, and it also allows patients to successfully track their own progress, thus promoting a healthier lifestyle.

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About the Author

"Marty" Puranik, President and CEO

Marty Puranik 

Marty Puranik co-founded Atlantic.Net from his dorm room at the University of Florida in 1994. As CEO and President of Atlantic.Net, one of the first Internet Service Providers in America, Marty grew the company from a regional ISP to a leading global cloud services provider with customer relationships in more than 100 countries. Providing cutting-edge cloud hosting before the mainstream did, Atlantic.Net has expanded to seven data centers in three countries.
 

Sources:

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3662010

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3662010

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stevan_Stankovski/publication/344263605_Wearable_Technology_and_Applications_A_Systematic_Review/links/5f61b4ff4585154dbbd570a5/Wearable-Technology-and-Applications-A-Systematic-Review.pdf
Published Friday, October 16, 2020 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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