IT Brief Australia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Why cloud adoption is only the first step
Wed, 24th Aug 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The global pandemic highlighted, without a doubt, the importance and vulnerability of our national healthcare system. It also showed that while leaders may collectively understand the need for foundational healthcare infrastructure, there is a lot more work needed to strengthen the healthcare sector's digital resilience.          

One way the sector can accelerate this path to resilience is by unlocking its untapped potential of cloud and data. The sector has already had a taste of what this looks like.  Data and analytics played a crucial role in vaccine rollout acceleration; large volumes of patient data from decentralised clinical trials could be aggregated and analysed as fast as possible.

Today, boards by necessity are having more frequent conversations around digital initiatives, which is encouraging. These conversations are also broader, looking at technology's role as an enabler of organisational strategy rather than seeing it as an isolated cost centre. There are two key issues driving this change.  A need for hospitals to achieve more efficient and effective healthcare services and the impact of regulatory change on compliance and governance.

Within Australia, boards have increased reporting obligations aligned to the updated critical national infrastructure bill. Unfortunately, within Australia and New Zealand, we now have a history of cyber events disrupting service delivery to patients. Across both sides of the Tasman, we are also seeing tightened cyber security legislation.

Government pumps money into healthcare industry to boost digitisation

On a global scale, Frost - Sullivan has forecast the global healthcare and life sciences industry to hit revenues of $2.8 trillion by 2025. 
Closer to home, at the end of 2021, the New Zealand Government announced that up to NZD$75.7 million will be invested over the next three years to increase the resilience of data and digital systems, with a big focus on health and disability systems. Shayne Hunter, Deputy Director-General of Data and Digital, commented that improving resilience minimises risk of disruptions to better protect sensitive health information, with focus also on upgrading software and systems and increasing the use of cloud services.

Meanwhile in Australia, over AUD$107million is being invested in the Health Delivery Modernisation Programme. This includes new digital services to manage Medicare Complex Care Plans and register Medicare providers. An additional $213.2 million in annual funding has been allocated for the Australian Digital Health Agency, while $32.3 million has been dedicated to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Digital Health with the states and territories.

Hybrid and multi-cloud innovation halted by data silos and security issues

Cloud computing has grown at an exponential rate within ANZ and now represents a huge proportion of the overall IT software market. At the end of 2021, IDC found that cloud revenues in ANZ grew 31% to represent 45% of the total software market.

However, there's still pressure on healthcare leaders to drive more value from these investments, but it can be a daunting prospect, knowing where to start. Where many organisations new to multi and hybrid cloud can struggle is when they hit full speed ahead and rush into setting up new environments without having a hybrid data cloud strategy in place.

A robust hybrid data cloud strategy will go a long way to ensure today's healthcare organisations are able to truly capitalise on the benefits of all hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, improving the clinician and patient experience while also facing their security and governance challenges head on.  

Silos and closed-source technologies make data governance and security across hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments a challenge, which is of growing concern for the healthcare sector. Silos and proprietary security also limit visibility of their data lineage, preventing proper audit trails and managing risk, making compliance challenging and inviting cybersecurity threats. ​​

Cloudera's recent enterprise data maturity research found that 71% of IT decision makers within ANZ stated they don't have democratised access to centralised data analytics tools and support. A further 79% do not have big data infrastructure that's centralised and tightly integrated across their organisation. Additionally, 61% of IT decision makers do not have the necessary enterprise-grade standards in place for security, back-up, and disaster recovery across all environments.

While the cost of breaking out of these silos may seem like a high price, the compounding lack of agility, data governance and customer care will cost more in the long run.

Creating sustainable success and impressive growth with data and cloud    

Data and analytics played a crucial role in the vaccine rollout for COVID-19. New vaccines were created at incredible pace, with research, genome sequencing, FDA approval and testing all taking place much faster than usual. Huge amounts of patient data from decentralised clinical trials were able to be aggregated and analysed fast, and a critical success factor of this was having a strong data strategy in place.
We recently partnered with Shionogi - Co., Ltd., a discovery-based pharmaceutical company in Japan, to boost its data analytics capabilities. By upgrading its existing data platform to the CDP, the company has integrated all its data silos and hopes to democratize access to its vast amounts of data to accelerate research and product releases.

Another example comes directly from intensive care units (ICUs). A leading paediatric healthcare facility identified two projects that required long term data storage and analysis: a bedside alarm study, which looked at how environmental factors impact recovery, and an asthma research and discovery project, which focused on improving air quality. Working with Cloudera, the company was able to tap into previously inaccessible information, such as patient notes, create a big data discovery environment, and noticeably improve patient care and research.

Managing data in a hybrid world delivers the ability to adopt and integrate these advanced technologies, as well as improve efficiencies and outcomes to create more resilient healthcare infrastructure and data management systems.

Tomorrow's leading healthcare organisations will be those that leverage data and cloud innovatively. The possibilities with cloud and data are endless - and having a robust and inclusive hybrid data strategy will be key to leveraging these disruptive technologies and accelerating innovation.