Earlier this year, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff introduced his vision of Cloud 3.0, a post-pandemic forecast for business where “Remote work will just be work. E-commerce will just be commerce. Video meetings will just be meetings.”
The future is all-digital, and work from anywhere, and this digital-first world is powered by a third major evolution of the cloud. Briefly, the first wave of cloud brought us an “app for everything” and the rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The second wave surged on AWS, Azure, and Google investment and enterprise-wide shifts toward the virtualization of data center resources with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) models. The third wave of cloud, epitomized in the Cloud 3.0 concept, rises on the pandemic-driven acceleration of cloud adoption across pretty much every existing industry.
For healthcare IT, capturing the benefits of this third wave hinges on cloud power to optimize data acquisition, integration, and flow — and ultimately improve the provision of high-quality healthcare delivery.
While there have been rapid and amazing advances in optimizing information technology over the past couple of decades, capped by near-ubiquitous cloud adoption during the pandemic, the healthcare sector as a whole has tended to lag behind comparable industries in realizing the benefits of this mass digitalization journey.
Legacy infrastructure limitations/incompatibilities, financial constraints, a persistent domain-expert talent squeeze, and the unique regulatory requirements of working with health data are just a few of the traditional impediments contributing to the gap in progress.
Modern Cloud Power
Today, many of those difficulties, limitations, and expenses associated with healthcare data integration and flow can be quickly mitigated with reliable cloud-based infrastructure. The maturation of services means that achieving the promise of Cloud 3.0 is within reach even in healthcare.
For example, establishing a secure interoperability service for easier access to health data in the cloud can be done in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional hardware data solutions. Months-long processes of procurement, evaluation, racking and stacking of physical servers and databases for data ingestion can be entirely replaced with cloud-native solutions deployed and scaled in mere moments for a fraction of the cost.
That’s an enormous leap. The issue now is reframing perspective to best utilize this shift in capability.
Consider a traditional network operations center (NOC), which generally consists of a group of skilled technical professionals watching dashboards all day and responding to incidents based on a runbook or other source. This old-school scenario doesn’t work anymore because:
- The sheer volume of data in today’s IT infrastructure is simply overwhelming for human consumption or analysis regardless of expertise.
- Responsive provisioning requirements and modern cyberthreats defy even the fastest human response times (average ransomware, for example, can encrypt files after execution in just three seconds).
- Increasing the number of skilled staff and acquiring more computing equipment requires prohibitively expensive and time-consuming hiring, training, and procurement cycles.
The crux of this situation is somewhat playfully referred to as the silicon-carbon dichotomy (figure 1): It is a truth universally acknowledged that silicon-based forms of intelligence (aka computers) are better at some things, while carbon-based intelligence (aka humans) are better at others.
“Silicon” strengths include digesting massive amounts of input, following rules and maintaining continuous compliance, finding subtle patterns in large volumes of data, automatically executing changes quickly and flawlessly, and scaling quickly when an environment changes.
“Carbon” strengths include creating and implementing strategic plans, exercising judgement, applying creative problem solving, optimizing and ideating new services, and building all kinds of things out of “silicon.”
Leveraging cloud power to embrace this dichotomy means automating everything that silicon is good at, and freeing talented human IT staff to focus on what they’re good at — complex problem solving, innovation, and strategic development.
For the healthcare sector and its IT pros, that translates to better high-quality healthcare delivery. Enabling that vision makes Cloud 3.0 a wave worth riding. Learn more about how the cloud can empower your healthcare business in the free Guide, "The Cloud Journey to Business Value in Healthcare."