Posted: October 11, 2017

In today’s healthcare environment, the outlook for consumer management and content management solutions is cloudy — as in “cloud-based solutions” and “cloud computing,” the big trend in healthcare technology solutions right now. You’ve probably heard those terms from your IT department and CIO. We even told you about five ways the cloud can improve your hospital’s website.

But what exactly does “cloud-based” really mean, and how do those solutions work? Why are your IT department and CIO advocating for it? How can cloud computing benefit your healthcare marketing program?

Let’s take a look, starting with the basics.

What does “cloud-based” and “cloud computing” mean?
“Cloud-based” means applications, services, or resources are made available to users on demand through the internet from a cloud computing provider’s servers rather than live on your local computers (think Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure). A cloud services platform owns and maintains the network-connected hardware required for these application services, while you provision and use what you need via a web application – Netflix runs on cloud servers, and your healthcare content management system could also be cloud-based. You can provision exactly the right type and size of computing resources you need, almost instantly.

When you use cloud-based solutions for marketing, customer relationship management, or content management, you’re cloud computing.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established these essential characteristics of cloud computing:

1. On-demand self-service: Once services are established, the customer should be able to provision new users, services, virtual machines, etc. without involving the cloud service provider.
2. Broad network access: Cloud services are typically accessed over the internet, as opposed to being on an internal network accessible only over private connections.
3. Resource pooling: There is some degree of shared resources from which services draw as needed.
4. Rapid elasticity: The service will expand or contract to match customers’ expanding or contracting needs.

How cloud-based solutions benefit your healthcare organization
The cloud setup means an organization’s investment in infrastructure is minimal – plus, it’s scalable without the time or IT expertise required to expand an on-premise system. With the cloud, as long as you have an internet connection, you’re ensured access to your healthcare marketing applications wherever you are.

Cloud service providers monitor servers 24/7 to ensure consistent uptime, and the technology’s scalability offers an extra level of protection against hackers and denial of service attacks as well.

Because cloud service providers have teams devoted to compliance, they can readily meet and maintain HIPAA and other government-mandated regulations. They can leverage economies of scale to provide security beyond anything you could practically do on your own. And, because your healthcare data is stored in the cloud rather than on a hard drive, if an employee loses a laptop, for instance, that data won’t be available to whoever finds the laptop, but it will still be available to the user via the internet.

How cloud computing can save you time, money, and security headaches
The strongest benefit of a cloud-based solution, however, is the savings they offer in time and money and the extra security the structure provides. Besides more affordable infrastructure costs, you can also save money on staffing and IT man-hours because you don’t have to manage or maintain a massive, complex on-premises network of individual devices, servers, and software. With cloud-based solutions, your hosting, support, and services fees can all be bundled together into one clear cost. And, because cloud solutions are subscription-based, they become operational expenses, turning them into predictable monthly fees that provide great tax benefits. The scalability of the structure alone enhances cloud technology’s security profile.

These savings in cost and time also translate into your ability to move quickly on projects like landing pages, micro-sites, and more because of enhanced flexibility, mobility, stability, and speed.

Imagine a world where your content management system, healthcare CRM data, proprietary marketing campaign information, and complex, multi-system website are all cloud-based. How much is that extra level of security, scalability, and affordability worth to you?

To learn more about how a cloud-based healthcare technology solution can benefit your organization, request a free healthcare marketing assessment to discover the best place to begin.