Former Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is no stranger to delivering quotes that make headlines. His keynote address Monday at the HiMSS 2018 was no different. He advised the audience of healthcare professionals, “Get to the cloud. Run to the cloud.”
Schmidt didn’t stop there. He elaborated on the importance of the cloud to the future of the healthcare industry. “Most of you sit in institutions that have proprietary data centers that have some sort of logic about them,” Schmidt said, “Most of that logic may have been true five or 10 years ago, but it isn’t today.”
He went on to describe how large cloud providers like Google have safer and more compliant data centers that are easier for IT professionals to use. He emphasized that any cloud provider, be it Google or one if its competitors, would be a better choice than none at all.
The argument for adoption of a public cloud like Google Cloud is that smaller IT organizations, such as those employed by hospitals and other healthcare facilities, would have to repeat the same work that dedicated cloud providers have already completed. Creating a new server, setting up the cloud environment, managing updates, and other time-consuming steps are routinely performed by cloud providers on behalf of their clients.
“I want you all to focus on innovation,” Schmidt said.
Healthcare is Primed for Cloud Adoption
The healthcare industry is already adopting the cloud at an accelerated pace. The NHS in the UK announced approval for use of the public cloud to store medical records in January.
A recent research paper published by Frost & Sullivan shed light on the growing cloud trend in the field of medical imaging. Medical imaging accounts for 90% of all medical data and is expected to become an $830.5 million piece of the cloud market by 2021.
Google’s biggest competitors, including AWS and Azure are focusing a lot of their efforts on attracting the healthcare industry to utilize their services. Earlier in March, Microsoft released a new set of healthcare-specific tools for its Azure cloud platform.
When it comes to the practice of medicine, Schmidt believes that the cloud itself can be as powerful a diagnostic tool as one the doctor carries in their hands. Predictive algorithms, a hallmark of Google’s technological toolbox, were specifically called out by Schmidt in his address.
“We have physicians within our company who believe that if these algorithms for prediction work, we can predict outcomes in the ER, for example, 18 to 24 hours earlier than any other observation system,” Schmidt said. “We can’t predict our own fates, but machines can.”