Software as a Service (SaaS) Becoming the Standard in Healthcare
Healthcare is living and breathing The Age of the Patient, both operationally and technologically, and medical facilities who have adapted are moving forward, while those that struggle to evolve with the changes are falling behind. Patients walking into today’s hospitals have very specific expectations: hospital staff should instantaneously know who they are, and every last detail of their medical history. Consequently, medical technology should effectively enable this expectation, offering the correct information and results in real-time, every time.
In recent years, cloud computing has been the panacea for IT solutions across all industries, but healthcare has been slower to adopt. Historically, healthcare organizations have been more likely to keep IT in-house due to the ubiquitous perception that outsourcing will compromise security, compliance, functionality and implementation. However, trends are beginning to shift in favor of increased efficiencies and considerable cost reduction, and Software as a Service (SaaS) is a major component of the changes—after all, SaaS applications are cloud applications inherently.
According to HIMSS Analytics’ survey of cloud computing adoption in healthcare:
- 83% of IT executives report using cloud services today, and SaaS-based cloud applications are the most widespread (66.9%).
- Since 2014, SaaS adoption across workloads has increased by about 1/3.
- Healthcare organizations are showing a higher propensity to outsource (SaaS, IaaS, colocation, and disaster recovery (DR)).
- Within the next 12 months, a majority of healthcare organizations will assess outsourcing their colocation, DR workloads, or SaaS workloads.
socPub pointed out that the increase shows greater confidence throughout healthcare in taking advantage of cloud computing. According to HIMSS Analytics’ survey:
- Only 6% of healthcare organizations don’t plan to use the cloud at all.
Clearly, SaaS has become critical to delivering healthcare services to patients, but what’s driving the shift?
What’s Making SaaS the Preferred Delivery Model?
It’s really three forces coming together to bring about an industry-wide change: the aforementioned Age of the Patient (or, in broader terms, Age of the Customer), mass adoption of digitalization, and the cloud.
- Age of the Patient
AKA, Age of the Customer, but in healthcare. Patients expect information and results at their fingertips, and healthcare organizations have to deliver, from doctors’ offices to hospitals. Gone are the days of clipboards, paper medical histories, and physical bills. Administration and operations have to happen fast, and major benefits of SaaS applications and services are speed and responsiveness.
- Mass Adoption of Digitalization
Hand-in-hand with the Age of the Patient, digitalization is calling the shots for every industry, and healthcare is no exception. Everything has to go digital, and that includes all systems from marketing to accounting.
- The Cloud
The cloud dovetails off of digitalization—applications and even full infrastructures are being moved to the cloud to reap operational and financial benefits of shared computing, and to make information available digitally.
“Our HR system is cloud-based. Anytime we look into a new system, we consider cloud.”
– Peak 10 Survey Respondent
The HIMSS Analytics survey revealed:
- 38% are using cloud for health information exchange.
- 49% of healthcare organizations are using cloud for hosting clinical applications and data.
- Around 75% of organizations are using SaaS applications for financial, operations, HR, and back office administration.
Essentially, healthcare providers are using SaaS to share information with other providers and administrate patient care. It’s now significantly more feasible, for example, to use SaaS to communicate sensitive patient information rather than any of the traditional legacy methods, such as email or fax.
Figure 1 details the most commonly used SaaS applications among providers:
Advantages of SaaS in the Healthcare Industry
SaaS is now a major component of successfully adopting digitalization in healthcare. Salesforce noted that in the past, organizations had to purchase, build, and maintain an IT infrastructure in spite of high costs in order to support software (aside from other IT initiatives). Today, it’s all about plugging in and enjoying the benefits of applications via a convenient subscription model, with services built on shared infrastructure and delivered over the Internet. Such benefits include:
- High adoption
- Lower initial costs
- Painless upgrades
- Seamless integration
Increased security is also an advantage to consider, as reported by socPub. While HIPAA and HITECH stipulate strict regulations to protect PHI, and healthcare organizations have historically viewed the cloud as less secure, the industry is changing and becoming more open to new ways of dealing with data.
Today’s SaaS vendors are highly aware of the importance of data protection, particularly those aimed at healthcare. SaaS applications typically include:
- HIPAA-compliant encryption
- Layered server security
- Multi-factor authentication capabilities
If you have questions about how to modify your infrastructure to support your cloud-forward initiatives, contact us at www.peak10.com/contact-us or (866) 473-2510 to speak with one of our experts.
The Peak 10 Industry Spotlight: Healthcare IT website is also a great resource for your healthcare IT team. The site includes the results from our most recent comprehensive study among healthcare IT decision makers, as well as industry technology developments, trends, and challenges unique to healthcare.