The real answer to this is… they are both likely winners. However, let’s examine why.
The advantage of cloud computing in a healthcare IT environment is obvious. Hospitals are not IT departments; with that said, why consider using the cloud? A well-organized cloud provider can reduce costs, improve availability of services and applications, improve regulatory compliance, provide a homogeneous environment for data analytics, business intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, and provide 24/7 security against hackers, ransomware, and viral attacks. Many of the US’s larger more forward thinking hospitals have already embraced the cloud and enjoyed the benefits of relying on someone else to keep their systems functioning.
However, one of the strengths of the cloud is also its weakness. Cloud based systems concentrate the data into a singular environment. Many hospitals or healthcare systems may be housed on the same server farm, creating vulnerability to attackers.
This is where the Blockchain comes into its own. Blockchains are formed by creating an encrypted decentralized and distributed ledger for all data in the system. Individuals involved in the Blockchain only retain a small portion of the encrypted data, and data as a whole is spread across a vast number of data keepers. This means hacking and stealing the data is virtually impossible. One would have to simultaneously gain access to a wide variety of data keepers to stand any chance of procuring a hospital’s patient information. Within this advantage lies the issue with Blockchain. The nature of its distributed data storage and retrieval methodology do not lend themselves to speedy data retrieval and issues remain with how the system paid for. At present, there are only a few beta sites running anything that closely resembles a Blockchain for a healthcare IT department in the United States. As these kinks are worked out, a large number of healthcare organizations are expected to jump on board this new platform. Those mostly to convert first are hospitals that operate in a largely single payer environment (for example, any hospital where the bills are predominantly paid by Medicare or Medicaid). Similarly, very large hospital systems with weaker security could benefit from the high level of data security offered by the Blockchain solution.
The likelihood is that both methodologies will continue to growth their respective presence within healthcare IT over the next 4-10 years. At that point, things could change. More on that possible change in the next blog.
To find out more about Cloud solutions or the Blockchain, please contact Michael Williams, CEO, Global Healthcare IT, Inc. at email@example.com. GHIT is a specialist provider of skilled healthcare IT consultants and staff. To arrange for a Speaker to talk at your next HIT event, please contact Bettsy Farias on BFarias@globalhit.com.