Cloud technologies are rapidly penetrating healthcare worldwide, and in the Asia-Pacific region alone the market will grow 22.3% annually on average during 2012-18, forecasts new research.

The Asia-Pacific market for healthcare cloud technologies was worth $194.4 million last year, says the study, from Frost & Sullivan, and it predicts that, given its versatility, the cloud will be the single most important enabler of healthcare megatrends in future.

Three major industry transformations which will be catalysed by cloud solutions, it says, are:

• Healthcare industry vertical clouds: while an expanding elderly population is expected to almost double Asia-Pacific healthcare spending over the next six years, biopharmaceutical R&D spending is not reaping expected returns. All stakeholders are seeking tools for cost-effective outcomes-based research.

Industry Vertical Clouds are secure environments that allow information-sharing among all stakeholders, thus delivering efficiencies throughout the value chain. Adoption of electronic medical records and electronic health records has spurred a wave of interest in such clouds, which can help extract maximum value from digitisation of health care;

• Telehealth and remote patient monitoring: Asia-Pacific ‘s aging populations and the rising incidence of chronic disease are driving demand for continuous health monitoring and assurance. Cloud technologies provide the software and infrastructure to share vital information over a distance, and enable real-time analysis of information gathered from remotely-located systems, thus enabling telemedicine and patient monitoring devices to capture critical data and action it speedily. The implications of this are “phenomenal,” says F&S; and

• Consumerisation of healthcare: for consumers, the goal is for a single, convenient biometric identifier or mobile phone to secure healthcare services. Data collaboration, among healthcare organisations and across industries, is a critical component currently missing from the healthcare delivery value chain and this alone can enhance patient experience. Cloud technologies will play a pivotal role in establishing a seamlessly integrated healthcare market.

Healthcare providers are aware of the long-term cost benefits of cloud solutions; what they are looking for now are reliable technology partners who can address their concerns over data privacy and security. Many healthcare IT vendors emphasise the enhanced security and back-up support provided by cloud technologies, but this message has not yet reached hospitals’ chief information officers (CIOs); this is the reason why healthcare continues to invest in private clouds while other industries are rapidly moving to public or hybrid cloud models, says F&S.