Recently, cloud technology has evolved from a mere concept to the innovative reality of this century. It is extensively benefiting biobanks in managing their patient and sample data. Slowly yet steadily, cloud technology is now becoming part of diagnostics, clinical, research and testing laboratories worldwide.
Recent healthcare reports show that approximately 80% of global healthcare data will be stored in the cloud at some point in time in its life cycle by 2018. This shift is seen as a part of third-platform technologies dominating the future, which includes the cloud, big data analytics, mobile internet access, and social media tools.
Some hotspots for recent advancements include the developmental lab of University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC), where radiologists are learning to work with a new cloud-enabled system for managing image files produced by CT scanners. This proves that tapping of cloud resources has just begun. Its true potential is not only limited to biobanks and clinical labs, it also includes radiology units for data management.
GE Health Cloud is planning to commercialize a medical imaging platform to store, share, and analyze their imaging data while supporting other imaging platforms, and not just to their machines and devices.
The usage of cloud technology in clinical and research laboratories is gaining popularity day-by-day. However, data security and information sharing remain as some of the biggest concerns in its adaptation. These concerns have lead to significant breakthroughs in security algorithms such as 256-bit encryption HTTPS protocol being deployed for transmitting data from a customer’s PC to the server. The layering of databases has made viewing/ accessing of data by any third party almost impossible.
Hybrid cloud, which is a blend of traditional and modern cloud solutions, could be a trend in the coming decade. Organizations like academic medical centers and biobanks engaged in massive data-mining and analyses, especially for genomics and personalized medicine applications, will utilize the hybrid cloud infrastructure. This, however, would be a costly affair for small biobanks, hospitals, labs running on tight budgets. Companies such as CloudLIMS are proving to be a windfall for these small-to medium-sized organizations. Their SaaS-based Pay-As-You-Go payment model allows them to embrace the benefits of using the cloud platform, at an affordable price. CloudLIMS utilizes Amazon Web Services (AWS) which provides a rich experience to a user in terms of data backup, storage, networking, audit compliances, etc. Recently, Amazon and Google have inked HIPAA business associate agreements addressing several cloud-based security & regulatory aspects of healthcare. Additionally, CloudLIMS is also developing innovative solutions on its own to provide robust security measures to protect and safeguard sensitive data for its customers. It is just a matter of time until the percentage of cloud-based platform users will outgrow the ones using primitive, in-house IT managed platforms.