Today, the healthcare industry is confronting many complex and daunting challenges that include demands to:
- Increase patient engagement.
- Take advantage of big data, analytics, artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).
- Integrate consumer health apps, wearables, and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).
- Combat cybersecurity threats, breaches, and ransomware.
In the midst of this, however, healthcare organizations must continue to:
- Deliver the best patient care.
- Improve patient outcomes.
- Reduce healthcare costs (now 7 percent of GDP in the UK and almost 18 percent of GDP in the United States).
- Enhance patient and clinician experiences.
And all with limited budget and resources!
Cloud computing can help healthcare organizations focus on patient care and reducing costs, and it enables IT to be more flexible, agile, scalable, and secure as the healthcare industry changes and grows.
A key challenge to adopting cloud computing is that healthcare needs solutions, not IT projects. Healthcare organizations of every size often have limited IT and cybersecurity resources burdened with maintaining existing IT infrastructure.
So how can they create new solutions?
To rapidly acquire new capabilities and implement new solutions, healthcare IT and developers can now take advantage of industry-specific Azure Blueprints. These are packages that include reference architectures, guidance, how-to guides and other documentation, and may also include executable code and sample test data built around a key use case of interest to healthcare organizations. Blueprints also contain components to support privacy, security, and compliance initiatives, including threat models, security controls, responsibility matrices, and compliance audit reports.
Here we focus on four new blueprints created to support UK National Health Service (NHS) cloud initiatives, as well as an existing blueprint for AI in healthcare that includes HIPAA and HITRUST compliance support. Any of these blueprints can be used worldwide with suitable customization.
Using these blueprints, your healthcare IT team can quickly implement a new type of solution in your secure Azure cloud. If this were a documentation-only package, your IT team would start from zero, with developers implementing 100 percent of the solution. With a blueprint, however, you get 50 percent to 90 percent of the end solution. Then, you can simply devote your efforts and resources to customizing the blueprint solution. The key to accelerating the development of your initiative is to minimize the scope by reducing the gap between the blueprint you pick and your target use case as illustrated in the diagram below:
This example illustrates customizing the data warehouse blueprint for a target use case such as a clinical data warehouse for a life sciences organization.
Develop a customized solution using an Azure Blueprint
- If you haven’t already got an Azure environment, establish one. You can get started free in less than 10 minutes.
- Pick the blueprint closest to your target use case.
- Update the architecture if needed. Typically, the architecture for your target use case will remain the same as (or very similar to) the blueprint you choose.
- Customize the blueprint to your target use case including updating documentation.
- Switch any test data to your data.
- Change any components as needed—for example, if you need a different database.
- Update security and compliance to meet internal organizational requirements. This is based on your privacy and security risk assessment and compliance with all regulatory rules, security standards, and data protection law requirements.
- Implement any other changes required to meet your business and technical requirements.
Take the next step: download an Azure Blueprint to accelerate your cloud initiative
UK NHS Data Analytics Blueprint
A reference architecture and guidance for a data analytics solution suitable for the collection, storage, analysis, and retrieval of sensitive healthcare data.
UK NHS Data Warehouse Blueprint
A reference architecture and guidance for a data warehouse solution suitable for securely ingesting, staging, storing, and interacting with sensitive healthcare data.
UK NHS IaaS Web Application Blueprint
A reference architecture and guidance for an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) web application suitable for the collection, storage, and retrieval of sensitive healthcare data.
UK NHS PaaS Web Application Blueprint
A reference architecture and guidance for a platform as a service (PaaS) solution suitable for the collection, storage, and retrieval of sensitive healthcare data.
Other Azure Blueprints
I post regularly about new developments in healthcare, cloud computing, security, privacy, compliance, blockchain, and AI on social media. You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
What other opportunities and challenges do you see with blueprints for a secure healthcare cloud? I welcome your feedback and questions.