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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Why healthcare providers everywhere are heading to the cloud

8 August 2021 by katie.lander

From rising patient demand to staff shortages, COVID-19 has presented a serious challenge to a healthcare system already under significant strain. And with online appointments, Track and Trace and more underway, the NHS IT infrastructure faces more pressure than ever to deliver better and more innovative digital services.

With vast amounts of confidential data being produced daily, moving to the cloud should seem like simple way to start the digital transformation of services. After all, it can provide a seamless end-to-end service for patients, while offering greater data security for healthcare providers.

61% of NHS Trusts say that concerns around security are currently a top IT priority. With cloud technology continuing to develop, its benefits from a security perspective become increasingly difficult to resist. As a result, many healthcare providers are now thinking about cloud adoption but asking, “Can I securely connect to the NHS through the cloud?”

The simple answer is yes. Here’s why:

Changing attitudes towards cloud in healthcare

Cloud became a priority for the healthcare sector in 2018, when the government established the principle that all accessible digital services should be internet-facing by default. This policy introduced cloud technology into the healthcare sector and prompted healthcare providers to see the many benefits that cloud can offer – such as cost reductions, increased efficiency and a way to drive digital transformation

As part of this move, the NHS has been working to make its IT infrastructure compatible with modern cloud services. A key example of this is the introduction of the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) in 2019, which replaced their previous data connectivity network, N3. The HSCN provides a vital connection through which NHS data can be securely and compliantly connected to cloud services. 

This is possible because cloud providers have invested billions into security over the last few years. With the support of the government and a larger push from the NHS to further adopt cloud technology, it’s never been easier for healthcare providers to securely and compliantly connect confidential patient data to the cloud.

Healthcare data is more secure in the cloud

While there are concerns when it comes to how secure data is in the cloud, hesitation to make the switch can be costly in more ways than one.

The 2017 WannaCry cyberattack severely disrupted patient services and put the NHS at a standstill for days, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of appointments and operations, ultimately costing the NHS an estimated £92m. The NHS has since been at risk of further cyber attacks. During the pandemic alone, they experienced over 723 cybersecurity incidents.

 

Healthcare providers understandably want to keep confidential data as secure as possible. And for many, that security is synonymous with on-premises servers, which still remains a great solution but doesn’t have the same economies and simplicity of cloud. 

By switching to cloud technology, data becomes protected behind state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, with continuous risk monitoring for potential threats. This means, provided impact and risk assessments are done correctly and appropriate controls are in place, the cloud can offer effective security for confidential patient data.

Embracing greater opportunities with the cloud

During the past year, cloud technology has proven to be an invaluable tool for healthcare providers looking to achieve effective security and compliance. But the shift also has seen several other benefits as well – particularly when it comes to improving patient care. By connecting to the HSCN through the cloud, healthcare providers have gained greater agility and mobility when accessing patient data. Ultimately, this saves time for everyone and reduces the risk of medical error.

This capability will become even more important in 2021. With remote consultations and social distancing now becoming the foreseeable ‘new normal’, healthcare providers everywhere need to continue to rethink doctor-patient interactions and transform the way services are delivered.

In this vein, several GP practices have now launched their own surgery-specific patient apps. These give patients the ability to easily book appointments, submit information and access medical health records. This makes life easier for the patient while also saving the GPs’ vital administrative resources.

A way forward for cloud in healthcare

Navigating security and compliance can be difficult, which is why choosing the right cloud partner is vital. UKFast is the only approved HSCN supplier that’s also a cloud services provider. This means you can have security, connectivity, compliance and infrastructure all managed as part of one integrated service.

Transforming the way patient services are delivered can seem like a challenge. But with over 20 years of experience, we can keep your healthcare services compliant and secure in the cloud. Get in touch today.