With all the pressure to "get in the cloud," you may be wondering what the big deal is. What's the benefit? Why should marketing care about something considered an IT concern beyond checking the box for an investment sign-off?

In fact, cloud-based technologies offer a wide range of benefits, particularly in terms of analytics, that can be accessed in real-time. One Canadian not-for-profit home and community care organization made the switch to a cloud-based solution recently, and their experience demonstrates many of the benefits cloud technology can offer to healthcare organizations like yours.

When the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) decided to improve an exercise class used to bolster the health of seniors, it needed an efficient way to evaluate the ROI and success of implementing the program. In developing its Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together (SMART) group exercise program, the organization decided it wanted an evidence-based solution.

“Demonstrating the positive impact of our services is essential to safeguard future funding for our care programs," says Nicole Hunter, VON's district for manager care and service. “Although we were convinced that our exercise programs were making a difference, our paper-based approach to assessing and recording our clients' progress made it extremely difficult to get the hard numbers to show this clearly to our funders."

Proving the worth of your efforts through evidence and ROI to justify your healthcare marketing team's budget — sound like a familiar problem?

Migrating to the Cloud
To meet its objectives, VON replaced paper-based client assessments with a cloud-based mobile solution designed to track the health outcomes of its exercise classes. Now, using a database and assessment tool, VON can monitor participant data — including class attendance, mobility, strength, balance testing, and even the history of falls. All of this data can then be used to help assess program outcomes. Based on data from the cloud-based solution, VON was able to determine that its exercise program reduced falls by up to 72 percent. That hard data has helped the organization obtain additional funding for the program.

In the past, all documentation and tracking related to the SMART class — including registration, enrollment, assessment, and attendance records — was input manually. “We wanted to automate the process of signing-up for and assessing the results of our exercise classes as much as we could," explains Hunter, “and looked for a way to enroll clients and track their progress digitally, using mobile devices."

Armec Group worked with VON to develop a strategy and business process for automating the management and reporting process for the exercise program because, says Andrew Ward, VON's executive director, "Many of our funders have different definitions for similar key performance indicators, we wanted to ensure that we could deliver the right information to support their decision-making."

When you move your access points to the cloud, you save time and effort. Team members can do things like edit your website more easily because the back end is consistently updated in the cloud. The latest files, images, content, etc. are immediately available to anyone who needs it, from anywhere, even remotely.

Real-time Results
The result is that VON can now manage all of the documentation for its SMART classes in the cloud, using tablets for data entry, and facilitating the ability to capture real-time data on attendance, assessments, and outcomes. “Today, all that our people need to carry with them to run an exercise class is a tablet and a Bluetooth speaker," Hunter says. “At the beginning of the class, our people take attendance and guide any new attendees through the registration and enrollment process via a series of online forms, delivered via the cloud. At the end of the class, we assess and record each client's progress, which means the latest data on client outcomes is available for analysis almost immediately."

VON has also been able to leverage the data even more by connecting with each patient's electronic medical record. “Because all our data resides in the cloud and not on the device itself, we can ensure our compliance with rigorous data protection requirements," says Hunter. “In the unlikely event that a tablet went missing, we even have the option to wipe the device remotely."

Imagine the possibilities this sort of real-time access to analytics opens up for your team. You would be better equipped to make pivotal decisions immediately, rather than waiting for downstream reporting. If you see your website traffic is steady but click-throughs on your home page banner promoting women's services are dropping, you can change up content/images/CTA, etc. The key is that instant access to the data.

Better Insight into Programmatic Outcomes
By capturing data on healthcare outcomes, VON also has an automated way to identify problems related to program delivery. Data anomalies that appear can be readily identified and addressed. For example, says Hunter, “we can now calculate the expected rate of improvement for each client based on the number of classes they have attended, and how regularly they participate in the program. This means that if we see an assessment score drop unexpectedly, we can proactively alert that client's director of care to find out the cause." Having a predictive model like this, especially one based on machine learning and AI, takes much of the heavy load of data analytics off marketers and clinicians, leaving time to actually implement campaigns and programs that improve population health.

Another advantage of the cloud-based solution is that VON has reduced its operational costs, which frees-up resources for wellness programs and other types of proactive initiatives. “Proving that our classes are delivering results will make it much easier to secure the funding we need to continue to run the program in the future," says Ward. “Our accurate, granular reporting capabilities may also open up the possibility of applying for new sources funding, enabling us to extend the reach of our services."

Insight and real-time access are the real takeaways here for the benefits of cloud-based solutions. Because the analytics aren't siloed, you have the ability to show incremental progress toward your goals, whether that's seminar sign-ups or HRA completions. You're constantly building the case for the spend on your technology solutions. And who couldn't think of a million uses for more budget?

Want more insight into analytics and how your organization can improve performance? Request a free healthcare marketing assessment.