The Health Policy Partnership has published a new report highlighting the role of cloud technology to address the current challenges faced by patients and health systems. 

Our health in the cloud: exploring the evolving role of cloud technology in healthcare gives an overview of how the technology works in practice, and was written with support from the European Institute for Innovation through Health Data (i~HD). 

The report, published to coincide with the HIMSS 2023 European Health Conference & Exhibition in Lisbon, also looks at how such technology has enabled innovative solutions in the sector and the potential it can offer for the future.  

Dipak Kalra, president of the i~HD, said: “Cloud technology is a critical enabler for scaling up the use of health data to optimise health outcomes, improve patient safety, rapidly detect public health concerns and accelerate research into new medicines and medical technologies.  

“Cloud provides secure computational capacity far exceeding what is ordinarily found on-premises, and it eases data integration across organisations. Our report aims to convey why health decision-makers need to care about cloud, what they most urgently need to understand and be assured about, and how to move forward in a way that puts the needs and priorities of patients and the public at the heart of cloud integration across the health sector.” 

Cloud technology is a key enabler of the data-driven approach that we’re seeing in healthcare. It has already demonstrated its potential in the sector and offers a number of key benefits. These include more efficient and person-centred care; a population-based approach to health; research that drives innovation; and sustainable and resilient health systems.  

Despite the huge potential it presents, the report notes that the industry still lacks a general awareness and understanding of the cloud, which means perceived risks – such as those around privacy and security – are still presenting as barriers to its wide-spread adoption.  

Suzanne Wait, managing director at The Health Policy Partnership, said: “Both the delivery of care and health-related research are more data-intensive and collaborative than ever, and the process of collecting, combining, storing, analysing and exchanging these data require computational power, cybersecurity and speed that far exceed ordinary on-site capabilities, meaning they can only be done with cloud technology. 

“All stakeholders, not just IT departments, need to improve their understanding of what ‘the cloud’ is and engage in making sure it is used appropriately and to its full potential across health settings.” 

The report underlines the importance for both patients and healthcare professionals to join in the discussions and policymaking around the technology to ensure that its implementation both serves them and takes on board their perspectives.  

A recent report from Netskope Threat Labs revealed that the healthcare sector had a reasonably low number of cloud malware downloads in comparison to other sectors. Yet, as it is rolled out more widely it’s vital organisations ensure they’re adequately protected.