Cloud computing is a subscription-based infrastructure that delivers services such as storage, databases, software, and networking. The healthcare industry and in particular the medical devices sector has been relatively slow in adopting cloud computing technology.
However, the tide is turning and increased awareness of the benefits of such features as flexibility, back-up, and recovery capability in case of single point of failure, as well as remote access to services and information, has resulted in a spike in cloud uptake.
New cloud-connected systems are rapidly emerging that offer significant value to patients and medical service providers. Using the cloud enables medical devices to wirelessly collect data for storage, computation, accessibility, and sharing. Frequent alerts can be sent if data breaches occur, allowing for backup and recovery. Device manufacturers can also provide big data services to their clients even if the client has no computing hardware. Furthermore, with wearable technology surging in popularity, patients can use devices at their comfort level and upload indicators to the cloud where the physician can assess the data.
Top medical device manufacturers are working with cloud providers in a bid to gain actionable insights from large datasets. Medical device company Medtronic used IBM cloud services for its mobile personal assistant application, which provides real-time glucose insights for individuals with diabetes. Using the IBM cloud service allowed Medtronic to anticipate millions of data points, understanding the potential links between glucose readings, drug administration, and lifestyle choices, in addition to enabling patients to make more informed decisions about their medication.
Biop Medical, a startup medical device company, has developed a new probe that uses high-resolution optical and imaging techniques to identify cancerous and pre-cancerous cells in epithelial tissue. Biop developed its solution on the scalable IBM Cloud platform, using a simple drag-and-drop process to add services as needed. The graphical user interface (GUI) medical professionals use to access and analyze data is hosted on virtual servers in the IBM Cloud.
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With data security and privacy concerns, contracting healthcare budgets and stringent regulatory compliance, the adoption of cloud computing in the medical device industry is slow in comparison with other sectors. However, the benefits outweigh the limitations and recent successful case studies will continue to drive the market.