As advances in cloud computing – with its scalability and usability – attract industries across various sectors, SaaS-based healthtech solutions show promising ability to enable hospitals to offer quality and timely services.
Advances in cloud computing have changed the technological landscape of businesses across the world, size, location and industry notwithstanding. The free-size notion turned on its head. SaaS-based healthtech services – with capabilities to provide unique solutions to match the dynamics of different industries – are charting new and exciting opportunities for companies to stand out in their respective fields.
Moving away from legacy IT systems, cloud adoption by businesses across sectors has hit new highs in the last few years. From retail and ecommerce to manufacturing and entertainment, every business has reaped the benefits of the cloud’s agility and scalability to offer transparent, accessible and efficient resource management.
According to a news report by technology research and consulting firm Gartner, the pandemic and resulting growth in digital services are making the cloud drive the digital experience. Be it mobile payment systems by banks, enhanced customer experiences being offered by energy companies, or car companies launching personalised services catering to customers’ safety and infotainment, they are just some examples of how the cloud is enhancing customer satisfaction.
We may safely assume business strategies will be incomplete without a cloud strategy in place. Gartner analysts state the by 2025, more than 85% of organisations will embrace a cloud-first principle.
Hospitals and the cloud
Enough cannot be said to emphasise the importance of data. Moreso is its significance in the hospital and healthcare sector, which hold an enormous amount of sensitive data.
Healthcare is a critical sector, as we have all seen during the recent pandemic. The healthcare sector is impacted by developments in medical science, technology, and the rising growth of SaaS.
From appointment scheduling, maintaining medical records, out-patient/in-patient/ICU/Operation Theatre management to lab & diagnostics, store and inventory, pharmacy, invoicing, managing payment options, and continuous caring, the dimensions straddled in a healthcare institution are humongous, to say the least.
People who manage healthcare institutions rely on technology to improve operational efficiency, ensure patient comfort, and streamline staff operations for a smooth workflow. The SaaS model has what it takes to help healthcare institutes by enabling hospitals to offer quality and timely services.
Recent studies show that the demand for healthcare cloud computing is estimated to grow from USD 28.1 billion in 2020 to USD 64.7 billion by 2025, recording a CAGR of 18.1% during the forecast period. Part of this growth can be attributed to the pandemic, which revealed the gaps in healthcare in an otherwise technology-rich world.
Limitations that have restricted SaaS in hospitals and healthcare
SaaS refers to a subscription-based model of software licensing and delivery. In healthcare, it has the potential to provide numerous benefits as it can have multiple applications. However, cloud adoption in healthcare has been relatively slow despite increased awareness of cloud computing compared to the other industries.
Even though they are one of the essential components of the service sector, hospitals and healthcare institutions have some of the most backdated IT infrastructures. Some of the biggest roadblocks to adopting SaaS could be summarised as follows:
– Concerns about data security – not just patient information but also data about medical trials, research, finances, staff and other administrative issues.
– Budget issues and a lack of dedicated resources to manage, scale and maintain smooth functioning of the cloud environment, especially for smaller hospitals and institutions.
– Heavy dependence on the legacy infrastructure, which comprises a divided database.
Benefits driving the shift to SaaS-based solutions in healthcare
Hospitals and healthcare organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the multitude of benefits SaaS-based cloud computing solutions offer over traditional on-premise systems. Some of these advantages driving the change are listed below.
1. Coordinated efforts for enhanced patient care:
Utilising cloud storage for electronic medical records (EMR) enables hospitals and institutions to collaborate seamlessly among different stakeholders in the healthcare space. Cloud-based medical records make it much easier for doctors and medical professionals to access and share patient data and past medical records in a more organised manner. Likewise, using cloud technologies, healthcare providers can conveniently share insights and opinions and view interactions between a patient and their previous doctors whilst offering care that is specially customised to meet the health needs of a specific patient.
2. Enhanced security and data privacy:
Healthcare data is susceptible, and there is a valid fear of it falling into the wrong hands. Despite ramping up cybersecurity following the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, the healthcare industry accounted for 33 per cent of attacks caused by third parties. The rising incidence of data breaches in healthcare highlights the need for implementing SaaS-based healthtech services as a priority. Cloud-based IT infrastructure provides hospitals with more significant data integrity and confidentiality in comparison to local servers. These safeguards make hospitals less vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks by moving to the cloud. SaaS providers ensure data security and privacy through effective monitoring and maintenance by highly-skilled technology professionals.
3. More agility:
The rise in the number of transactions affects the overall performance of legacy IT systems over a period. While adding more servers can be a solution, the disadvantage of this method is that it is costly and time-consuming. On the other hand, by its relative elasticity, a native cloud SaaS architect can realign itself to a specific need and situation. Institutions can transfer all data over a centralised data centre, which can be scaled when needed without adding new servers to the on-site infrastructure.
Moving both software applications and deployments to microservices-based architecture benefits hospitals and healthcare professionals to manage workflow more efficiently.
4. Reduction in IT costs:
With zero capital investment, healthcare providers have to pay only for the SaaS services used by them. Hospital administrations can opt for specific services for a period of time and pay for them monthly, quarterly, or yearly, as per the terms and conditions. Thus, SaaS-based healthtech solutions offer hospitals, especially the smaller ones, more cost-efficient IT solutions than traditional on-site IT infrastructure.
Many SaaS providers also undertake the running and maintenance costs of cloud servers. This enables hospitals and healthcare institutions to eliminate unnecessary expenditures incurred on managing and maintaining a legacy system from their balance sheets. Further, by connecting with other SaaS software vendors, such as healthcare AI, IoT devices, and value-added system providers, hospitals and healthcare institutions can build a rich ecosystem, which cannot be done in a legacy system.
5. Greater scope for advancements and innovation:
One of the most underrated yet key benefits of SaaS-based healthtech solutions is their intrinsic support for business innovation. Cloud technology allows healthcare providers to enhance their services or product features whilst offering a convenient medium to efficiently deploy new products and services and offer patients a highly-personalised experience in healthcare. Similarly, hospitals can also scale down costs in non-differentiating areas of IT and instead focus on service and product enhancements and innovation, leading to better healthcare services.
New and promising trends in SaaS-enabled healthcare
Despite the positive developments in SaaS adoption by healthcare organisations, it has a long way to go. Hospitals and healthcare organisations increasingly remain wary about mapping and implementing privacy, security and compliance issues on the cloud. However, tech-savvy SaaS companies are gradually changing the landscape by offering seamless, cost-efficient and rapid transition to the cloud.
Read up on these promising trends that are expected to power healthcare SaaS:
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI):
With self-learning properties, AI has one the most significant potential to boost healthcare SaaS. It can enable hospital administrations to optimise internal healthcare processes, automate repetitive functions and enhance productivity. The different machine learning algorithms provide healthcare professionals with capabilities to observe data patterns in healthcare and improve the quality of patient care.
Artificial intelligence has immense capability to improve the offerings of healthcare SaaS through:
– Using machine learning to automate specific processes.
– Improved capabilities in obtaining data insight and speedily finding answers to questions.
– Enhanced security as AI can detect cyberattacks and possible threats to patient data more efficiently and quickly.
– Better data management using voice-enabled assistants, which can identify and detect the speech patterns of humans. Processes like data search and updating records can be done faster. The SaaS application can also be personalised according to the healthcare provider’s needs.
– Improvement in the quality of the overall response through less time-consuming internal procedures.
2. Vertical SaaS:
Refers to comprehensive and customised software solutions for a specific industry. To explain, a vertical healthcare SaaS will offer business intelligence software devised to meet the particular needs of the healthcare industry. Cost-wise, a vertical SaaS is generally more economical. Since it is also customisable, it is more preferred than horizontal SaaS. Vertical SaaS offers hospitals and healthcare institutions a number of benefits, including:
– The ability to quickly and conveniently integrate business intelligence, analytics, and similar features.
– Assessment of long-term performances in essential processes by conveniently incorporating key performance indicators (KPIs)
– Access patient data for timely and efficient healthcare-specific intelligence to better understand a patient’s case.
– Enhancing value and performance by ensuring that the software is scaled up to match the healthcare industry’s standards.
– Software that is customised to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. This translates into higher quality services for the hospital’s patients and clients.
3. Pay-Per-Use SaaS
Generally, healthcare SaaS works on a subscription model where on payment of a fixed amount, the users can access the services on a monthly or yearly basis, depending on the service selected. In recent times, healthcare organisations are increasingly gravitating towards the pay-per-use model (PPU model) as it is ideal for hospitals and institutions seeking temporary services only. This option is mainly preferred by small or new growing healthcare organisations or start-ups, as they are lighter budget-wise and needn’t worry about paying costlier monthly or yearly subscription fees.
4. Integrating into existing systems
With more and more healthcare institutions opting for SaaS-based cloud computing, the need to seamlessly integrate it into other existing systems consequently increases. Healthcare-specific SaaS have the capabilities to help hospitals and healthcare institutions to integrate the cloud data into their existing systems using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
With the inherent advantages that it offers hospitals and healthcare institutions across the globe, cloud technology can play a critical role in healthcare organisations, allowing them to grow and offer patients improved services.
SaaS can help overcome the hurdles created by deep-rooted administrative and infrastructure problems in an industry that relies heavily on quality administration, transparency, and smooth interdepartmental collaboration. A SaaS-based healthtech solution connects all stakeholders in the healthcare organisation and offers scalability, data security and agility. It is especially relevant for places where healthcare facilities are under heavy pressure, dealing with poor infrastructure, rural-urban divide and other such hurdles.
SaaS-based healthtech solutions are increasingly moving towards being the norm. This spells good news for everyone as a well-managed healthcare organisation is a bedrock for quality healthcare that all can avail.