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What Is Cloud-Based Healthcare?

illustration of doctor, child and father interacting through a screen: cloud-based healthcare
Father and child use an app and cloud-based healthcare to interact with their physician. [MicroOne/Adobe Stock]

The healthcare industry needs to rethink the care delivery model with an omni-channel approach that meets patient needs and preferences.

Most healthcare organizations still rely on EHR (electronic health records) to manage clinical data. But when the pandemic forced them to deliver care in new virtual ways, EHR systems showed their limitations. Providers needed a better way to integrate their clinical and non-clinical information to understand their patients’ needs and preferences. Without it, clinicians risk losing patients whose expectations around access and communication have risen dramatically. According to NCR Health, 80% of patients would switch providers for convenience factors alone.

In fact, if providers rely solely on an EHR, they often deliver a disjointed, disconnected patient experience. That’s because they lack a single source of truth for clinical and non-clinical patient data, which makes it challenging to provide access to care from anywhere — and often keeps patients waiting for crucial information. In other words, patients are forced to manage their own healthcare.

How can providers flip the script? It starts with cloud-based healthcare. Let’s explore what that means and how it can help both providers and patients.

Personalize engagement on a unified, intelligent platform to improve outcomes and reduce costs

Cloud-based healthcare platforms can connect systems and organize data in a meaningful way to scale 1-to-1 engagement with every stakeholder.

What is cloud-based healthcare?

A cloud solution for healthcare solves many common challenges and helps providers focus on what matters most: the patient.

The cloud acts as a place where you can securely store your data and access it from anywhere. Non-cloud storage solutions keep information on a physical hard drive or internal server. The cloud, however, allows data to live on a global network of secure data centers.

The cloud can easily connect to the EHR or any other system of record through an API, allowing organizations to centralize data and take advantage of app libraries.

Healthcare organizations use the cloud for connecting, storing, and maintaining traditional personal health information such as blood test results, as well as other consumer data like contact preferences. All information is accessed securely from a single console across the organization. EHRs aren’t replaced; they become an integral part of the cloud system.

The cloud can easily connect to the EHR or any other system of record through an API (application programming interface), allowing organizations to centralize data and take advantage of app libraries like AppExchange. App libraries provide tailored solutions to help solve different healthcare business needs, like verifying patient medical insurance. An API can take data from a contact center, marketing database, or any other system and bring all the information together in one place.

On the back end, the cloud provider maintains the software and develops enhancements, so healthcare IT professionals don’t have to worry about facilitating updates. This frees them to customize the platform to meet the unique needs of their business.

How can a cloud solution improve the work of healthcare organizations?

Providers have many sources of information that create data silos. The time wasted searching multiple systems and the lost opportunity to draw insights from data frustrates both employees and patients. Here’s how cloud-based healthcare alleviates the burden for everyone:

Streamline operations

Teams can access all the data they need from a single program or app, instead of switching between systems, and they can see everything at an aggregate level. This makes it easier to quickly answer patient questions, manage preferences, and turn insights into actions.

Organizations can also use automation to handle time-consuming tasks.

Organizations can also use automation to handle time-consuming tasks. Consider a patient who needs to schedule a knee replacement. Instead of the appointment desk scanning their calendar manually for an available slot, the cloud can automatically suggest possible times via the channel of their choice. The system can also deliver a series of emails with important information – from pre-visit instruction to post-visit health tips.

Personalize patient care

With a single source of truth for data, care coordinators can access a complete view of a patient’s health. The coordinator can easily view the treatment history, social determinants of health, recent tests and procedures, and the extended care team. They can also access questions the patient may have submitted through a portal.

At the same time, intelligence can analyze data to help providers stratify risk, ensuring those most in need are not overlooked. This frees clinicians to focus on interacting with the patient instead of devoting time to record-keeping in the EHR.

Engage anywhere

The cloud enables clinicians and other care providers to access patient information even outside the office.

For example, a physician who is at home, at another facility, or away at a conference can still access patient information from a single dashboard. Or, when patients need to see a provider but time constraints, weather conditions, or lack of transportation make it challenging, they can opt for a virtual appointment instead. Ultimately, patients have more options to engage with their providers, and providers have more access to their patients. This connectivity helps reduce time to care and improve patient outcomes.

Reduce mistakes and inaccuracies

Even with digital options available to streamline processes, many patients with complex conditions still keep their healthcare records in physical binders. Patients are often forced to request that their providers send records to each other via fax.

Not only is this a time-consuming process that produces illegible, incomplete forms, but it’s far from safe and secure, or even accurate. That’s because staff often leave the fax machine unattended. Not to mention, when providers upload patient information from faxed forms, there is room for error that can lead to a misspelled name or outdated prescription list. In fact, patient charts cannot be found on 30% of patient visits since providers may be attempting to look them up with a misspelled name, or an outdated address.

By unifying the end-to-end document management process, patient information is automatically routed to the right queue for quick review and processing.

To help solve these issues, providers can use capabilities like optical character recognition (OCR) technology to extract fields from scanned documents. A document template designer merges fields to generate the new files. By unifying the end-to-end document management process, patient information is automatically routed to the right queue for quick review and processing.

How do you get started with cloud healthcare?

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to tear down your existing systems to accommodate a cloud solution. Instead, the cloud allows all systems to seamlessly work together. You can pull data from EHRs as needed and surface it alongside other information, such as communication preferences, for a holistic view of the patient. 

While cloud-based healthcare systems don’t replace your EHR, they can increase efficiency and: 

  • Turn information into action
  • Personalize every patient interaction
  • Respond to patient needs quickly
  • Innovate, collaborate, and engage from anywhere

Embrace the cloud

In order to reduce costs and maximize patient outcomes, organizations need to break down information silos and decrease the risk for error. Salesforce built Health Cloud to do just that. Learn more about how you can optimize care with a cloud-based healthcare solution.

Health Cloud is a secure and resilient platform that enables providers to improve the care, support, and operations of their business of healthcare delivery in order to achieve the clinical, financial, and administrative outcomes their patients, caregivers, providers, and employees demand.

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