The insurance industry worldwide is undergoing a significant change accelerated by the financial meltdown and changing demographics of its customer base. In this blog, we will discuss the challenges, approaches and possible solutions to dealing with the transformation that the industry has unwittingly entered into.

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Electronic Health Records and Cloud Computing

Electronic Health Record (EHR) is the digital version of patient's health record. EHRs are real time unlike the traditional records. They can be used for tracking patient's health history digitally. These are also secure and will be made available only for authorized users.

EHR can contain all the details of a patient from doctor visits to prescribed medication to daily routine as single entity as these are electronic in nature. This gives the health care providers new ways to assess, track and take a decision on health insurance premiums etc. This will be a win-win situation for both the health care provider and the patient.

With the evolution of IoT, devices like FitBit and Apple Watch can be used to track the work out habits of the patient. This data integrated with the prescription and lab tests data can be used to pass back benefits to the customer and reduce the risk of the health care provider.

These are few things that can be done with digitized health records. The benefits are quite evident from simple analysis. However, the challenge is the amount data one needs to handle and integration of various systems. On top of these two, one should keep the system up and running 24x7 as the customers for major health providers and spread across geographies.

With typical on-premise system, this setup would need at least two sets of servers and data centers to meet high availability requirement apart from frequent synchronization. Integration of devices and third-party apps would also be a challenge as enterprise security patterns are not designed for such integrations. This will call for additional gateways etc. though the device data itself is not so critical until it's integrated with core patient data. This separation of security levels is tough to achieve with on-premise setup. The above-mentioned points will result in increased cost from both infrastructure and support perspectives. Depending on the scale of the organization, this may outweigh the benefits derived from EHR and associated processing.

Cloud Computing gives an economic and efficient solution for this by offering the following:

  •  Auto scaling for meeting the demand
  • Availability zones for DR
  • Pay per use policy
  • Seamless integration with devices and third-party apps
  • Apply different security patterns for different stages of data processing

While most of us are familiar auto scaling etc., we perhaps need to consider the last point in detail. The device data is a continuous flow for a specified duration generally. This data itself need not be run through typical enterprise level security checks as it's not integrated with the patient record yet. The data from devices can be stored on the cloud system and the data from that device will be linked with the patient record only after verifying the device registration within the enterprise database.  As these two can split into two separate tasks or work flows, different security policies can be applied on these two which will give cost benefits to the organization.

Cloud based EHR systems also give the enterprises option to collaborate seamlessly from multiple locations without compromising on security. Most of the modern cloud providers offer regulatory compliant computing systems which will help meet the regulatory requirements without any additional effort from the provider's side.

To conclude, health care providers can take advantage of the cloud computing to better manage patient health records and to keep the health care costs low.

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