Cloud 2.0 thought leadership from Canadian Healthcare
The rhetoric about cloud computing is that adoption is low due to fears over data privacy risks, however the reality is that the sector is booming. As announced by IDC, SaaS (Software as a Service) has been enjoying an explosive annual growth rate of 27% in Canada, and they anticipate this climbing to 30% through 2016.
For Canada this is a foundation to build on, not only to continue this linear adoption of cloud services but also accelerate them through broader expansion of the sector itself, by pioneering thought leadership and new innovations.
With this in mind a new powerhouse development to highlight is the recent release of the Cloud Computing in Health strategy document released from Canada Health Infoway, the principle eHealth standards organization for Canada.
The document is significant because it builds on the foundations of NIST, the USA standards body which has defined all the baseline cloud models thus far, and describes how the Canadian health-care sector might begin to adopt these foundations like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
While these are globally recognized forms of cloud computing, there are also limitations, mainly centred on each being somewhat rudimentary and not sufficient on their own to address the challenging niche requirements of industries like health care. For a broader and more in-depth view and for more sophisticated capabilities in key areas, we can also look to other industries, organizations and nations.
Infoway is a great example because of their role as a standards body for such a globally important value chain of eHealth, and because they have been quick to identify and begin working with the strategically concept of “Cloud 2.0”.
This term refers to the intersection of cloud with social media and also crowdsourcing, and describes the broader evolution of the cloud as an environment for open data sharing as much as the virtualization and hosting of applications, made possible through key technical architecture such as ‘federated identity’ and the SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).
‘Social-enabling’ legacy systems (like patient records) to integrate them into the cloud is being accelerated by consumerization of IT. Key advances of Internet standards in areas like identity and privacy, meanwhile, is making possible a holistic and integrated computing environment that will transform how health-care is delivered in the 21st century.
This will manifest itself in new services like ‘Personal Data Stores’, where users host and control their own medical records – an example of what will be just one of a plethora of new innovations.
Greenfield SaaS opportunities
Infoway has put forward a truly visionary document that describes the role of these critical technical pieces within the overall Cloud landscape, and also does so with a clear sense of business transformation and ROI.
In particular they identify the huge cost savings that are possible as well as the speed of deployment, and also they identify a suite of possible SaaS apps that could be adopted as part of this trend, such as:
- BYOD and Mobile Device Management
- Secure Email
- Social Networking and Consumer Enablement
- Professional Practice and Continuing Education
- Appoint Brokering and Scheduling
- Supply Chain Management
They make the critical point that these are all “greenfield” opportunities. In other words, these are all new apps for cloud providers to host and sell, highlighting just how much more the SaaS boom will grow. There is also an opportunity for these to be developed, deployed and sold as part of a national imperative to establish Canada as a world leader in the field.
Health care is a massive global market and so having proven these solutions locally they could be exported internationally as well, fuelling a home-grown Canadian tech industry boom.
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