By Ames Gross, President and Founder of Pacific Bridge Medical
This article was also published on MedTech Intelligence.
Cloud computing is one of the megatrends of the healthcare industry, as healthcare providers look for more efficient ways to collect, share, and analyze patient data. Cloud solutions are compatible with all types of data and content produced by a wide variety of medical devices. Cloud solutions can seamlessly collect and store data in easily accessible electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs). Secure cloud environments allow for instant sharing of patient data, enabling remote analysis of real-time patient data.
While this megatrend originated in the West, cloud computing is also growing in Asia’s medical markets. For example, IBM-Watson, an artificial intelligence system, is delivered through the cloud and can analyze high volumes of patient data. There are currently two major IBM-Watson products available in some Asian countries, IBM-Watson for Oncology and IBM-Watson Genomics. IBM-Watson for Oncology looks at records from a patient, like doctor’s notes and lab test results, and provides oncologists with a second opinion.
IBM-Watson is quickly expanding its reach in Asia through its adoption in one hospital in Thailand, six in India, and eight in China. IBM-Watson has also partnered with Baheal Pharmaceutical (Qingdao, China) as its distribution partner, and Baheal will also be marketing IBM-Watson Genomics, a molecular data interpretation technology to Chinese hospitals.
Microsoft is also making inroads in Asia by providing Singaporean companies with cloud-based solutions. Ring.MD, a Singaporean telemedicine service that allows patients to video call doctors for online consultations, uses Microsoft Azure to store and analyze patient records. Today, Ring.MD securely manages 1.5 million patient records in more than 50 countries with Microsoft Azure, while working with more than 10,000 healthcare providers.
Fullerton Health, also based in Singapore, operates 180 fully-owned medical clinics in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Australia, and Hong Kong. Providing healthcare to more than 8 million people in the Asian region, Fullerton Health has adopted the Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise cloud-based productivity suite for its global operations. Office 365 Enterprise allows for healthcare providers to easily access shared documents and quickly access patient notes taken by another caregiver in a secure manner.
In another example, Retarus (Secaucus, New Jersey) Mail2Fax digitizes health records and increases workflow. BP Healthcare, a prominent Malaysian healthcare provider, is utilizing Retarus Mail2Fax in Malaysia today. The Mail2Fax increased automation, and workflow integration also frees employees from time-consuming administrative tasks, facilitating greater efficiency across the company. Retarus’ web-based Enterprise Administration Services (EAS) portal enables quick data search and detailed analysis of fax transmissions. Faxes can be sent out as email attachments and used as digital records, promoting greater transparency and ease of patient record retrieval.
GE Healthcare Japan has embraced cloud services for the management of its own records. GE Healthcare employs a service team of about 500 people in Japan and services more than 106,000 medical devices and equipment across the country. It is necessary for GE Healthcare Japan’s service team to be flexible and efficient to keep GE’s products running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With service and maintenance records easily accessible in the cloud, GE engineers can work more efficiently. Preventative and predictive maintenance is also possible with cloud-solutions due to the constant stream of data produced by the medical devices and equipment.
Some companies in Asia are also developing cloud-based solutions. For example, Hitachi Data Systems has launched a cloud solution called HCSC-Healthcare. HCSC-Healthcare is a cloud solution that integrates health applications, data sources and locations. It is compatible with all types of data generated by medical equipment. This enables healthcare professionals to extract knowledge and address issues, with the aim of improving the quality of patient care and efficiency of services and to better manage spiraling costs. HCSC-Healthcare is specifically designed to help healthcare organizations of all sizes handle information processing and management. It is offered as a pay-as-you-go model that requires no upfront capital investment. This minimizes the significant costs of acquiring, maintaining and upgrading medical applications.
In India, Sameer Sawarkar and Rajeev Kumar, founders of health technology company Neurosynaptic Communications, have built a cloud-based, point of care diagnostic equipment and telemedicine solution that enables remote healthcare delivery. The service, called ReMeDi (Remote Medical Diagnostics), enables its over 8,000 health technicians with little or no college education to act as a proxy for doctors in rural areas. The technicians operate in 2,200 villages across India, serving a region with a total population of 50 million people.
With rising healthcare costs and the need to review massive amounts of patient data, healthcare providers are under pressure to run more efficient operations. Cloud computing can help healthcare providers more efficiently process and analyze the ever-growing volume of patient data. We expect growth of the Asian cloud computing market to accelerate as healthcare providers streamline their operations in today’s paperless world.