Healthcare heroes: Doctors and medical staff may save countless lives daily, but they still rely on a safe, secure, scalable and super-agile environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only put our healthcare heroes at the center of public consciousness; it has also highlighted the pressing need for digital transformation in the sector, pushing digital health technologies such as telehealth and remote monitoring into the fore.

The impetus for digital change is both internal and external. Healthcare organizations face a particular challenge in accommodating practices such as remote-working, since for many people, the concept is entirely new. This has necessitated the transition to telehealth consultation while ensuring security of critical data and patient information.

Under these fluid circumstances, healthcare heroes and organizations must also find new ways to work efficiently with governments and businesses to deliver vaccinations efficiently.

In Singapore, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) have developed a set of open-source digital standards used for the issuing of digital COVID-19 test result certificates, known as HealthCerts. Leveraging blockchain technology, such digital documents can facilitate cross-border verification of health documents, such as pre-departure COVID-19 test results. Apart from using HealthCerts, residents in the country can book medical appointments via the National Appointment System and view their vaccination records on the HealthHub mobile app.

Cloudifying healthcare as an enabler

While this is a great start, transformation in healthcare will continue to be a steep process. At the moment, over a quarter of healthcare organizations run exclusively traditional, non-cloud-enabled data center—more so than any other industry, according to our latest Healthcare Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) report.

The good news is that many of the respondents had an ambitious five-year plan to rectify this by opting for hybrid cloud setups as the foundation for their operations. The added flexibility that this offers mean they are able to face the switch to telehealth consultations with confidence. It also promises to help streamline processes such as invoicing and payments and make it easier to collaborate with third parties such as governments, academics and businesses.

This is part of an increased focus on IT across the board. In our report, more than two thirds of respondents said their companies were looking at IT more strategically as a result of the pandemic. Some 95% said a hybrid model would be their top choice as a means of preparing for the future.

Patients come first after all

As in many industries, the pandemic has sped up healthcare digitalization changes that were actually already on the cards. Further challenges the industry faces include recruiting and retaining medical professionals; speeding up research; implementing a values-based system that prioritizes patient health outcomes; and safeguarding data. Our research shows that healthcare practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region worry more about security than their global counterparts, with almost 60% describing it as a significant challenge. Close to half also struggled with cost control and business continuity.

These issues obstruct the industry from fulfilling its core purpose—to save lives. The effective adoption of technology will be central to allowing healthcare professionals to focus on what matters most. Bearing in mind the need for agility, flexibility and control, healthcare organizations recognize the need to move to various models of cloud computing.

This approach will also help position the industry for further innovation in areas such as AI, IoT, AR/VR and robotics, which are likely to play an increasing role in enhancing both operational efficiency and patient experience.

Good healthcare transformation underway

In the region, we are already seeing examples of successful DX within healthcare institutions.

Indonesian health insurance program provider Mandiri Inhealth, upgraded its legacy systems to the Cloud for improved system performance, streamlined operations, and increased scalability. As a result, the firm was able to demonstrate stronger system performance and reliability for its users, enabling it to scale its operations easily and ultimately better service its thousands of customers across the nation.

Technology should always be about making things better for people, and there are few areas where it can have more meaningful impact than in healthcare.

While invisible, the hybrid cloud will serve as the basis of better service, and ultimately better health, across the region.