Healthbridge, a leader in healthcare technology design & development, reported an unprecedented move to cloud computing during COVID-19. CEO of Healthbridge, Luis da Silva, discusses why COVID-19 became the catalyst for the move to the cloud – and what comes next.
Healthcare’s move to the cloud has been slow. Even though the benefits of cloud-based computing are well-known and widely accepted as the most practical, cost-effective and agile way to manage and store clinical notes, patient records and practice data – most doctors in private practice opted to delay the move.
Questions about the need for the cloud vs paper systems, the disruption that migrating to a new system would cause and the security of sensitive information were all reasons to keep using the system that was already in place in the pre-pandemic world. Now, post-pandemic and the status quo in primary health has undeniably been disrupted. From practices being closed to remote working to virtual consults becoming (almost) mainstream – these added up to a greater propensity to move to the cloud.
Globally, the trend is the same. In a study by Accenture, it was found that 66% of healthcare providers intend to migrate to the cloud within one year, with 96% of providers operating from the cloud in 3 years. So, is that it? Did it take a global pandemic to persuade over 1 000 medical professionals in SA to migrate to the cloud, or is there more?
The importance of ease
“At Healthbridge we saw cloud being adopted like never before, which is counterintuitive if you consider that COVID-19 and lockdown was a period of fear and uncertainty, so why make the change then?” said da Silva. “Of course, this was compounded by the fact that even though the world was in chaos, patients still needed care and practices needed to mitigate revenue loss due to having being closed or experiencing a massive drop off in patient appointments.”
Da Silva went on to say that while COVID-19 was a trigger to move, the mass migration was a combination of two other critical elements in addition to COVID: motivation and ability.
“What we found was that while in the past doctors may be motivated to make the change; it actually wasn’t that easy to move to the cloud and this impacted their ability to change to cloud-based solutions. From this, and Healthbridge’s extensive learnings from building truly user-friendly technology for healthcare, we know that there are 4 key enablers that must exist to make it easy for medical professionals to move to cloud solutions,” da Silva explained.
The 4 elements of user-friendly design
Rather than trying to drive the motivation up to adopt a solution, it’s more effective to simply make it easier to adopt the solution. As a technology partner, Healthbridge’s offering – both in terms of technology and in practice processes – included these key enablers which drove the rapid adoption of their cloud-based solutions:
- Technology that complements and enhances existing workflows. It’s now widely accepted that healthcare technology that interrupts a doctor’s typical workflow is inherently flawed. It’s essential that design is based on a thorough, real-world understanding of how a practice operates and what the doctor needs.
- Support to transition to the cloud every step of the way. A technology partner who understands that designing solutions is not just about software knows that they need to provide 360° support to medical practices to be successful in the migration to cloud.
- Reduce existing complexities. For medical professionals to use cloud solutions, it must reduce the coding complexity they’re faced with when selecting from thousands of procedure codes, and NAPPI & ICD-10 codes. Dosage and formulary complexity also needs to be easier for the doctor using an intelligent, intuitive cloud-based solution.
- Make it easy for patients, too. In the age of AI and machine learning, it’s no longer acceptable to only pay lip service to the term ‘user-friendly.’ Given that healthcare technology can lend itself to being more participative, during virtual consults for example, cloud solutions must boast unparalleled ease-of-use for all end users – be they doctors, practice staff or patients.
“Some of the most significant findings we have taken away from the migrating over 1 000 medical professionals to the cloud is that we cannot compromise on ‘ease.’ In combination with a real understanding of the nuances that characterise healthcare, Healthbridge’s solutions ensure that the connection with the patient isn’t lost during a consultation. Or that the doctor isn’t slowed down by the system. By sticking to these design principles, the feedback from doctors has been overwhelmingly positive with many saying that the move to the cloud was easier than anticipated and resulting in a robust stream of referrals for Helathbridge,” said da Silva.
With a possible 4th wave predicted before the year is out, medical professionals who are considering moving to cloud-based solutions are encouraged to measure up their options with the 4 key enablers to gauge what kind of user experience they are in for. For more information about how to successfully migrate to the cloud, contact Healthbridge here.