Healthcare’s Digital Shift in a Pandemic-Focused World

The following is a guest article by Sunnie Southern, Vice President of the Health & Life Sciences Division at Onix.

The health and life sciences industry is in the middle of a massive digital shift due to the pandemic. As more healthcare organizations embrace cloud computing, the pressure rises for those who have yet to make a cloud transformation. Those that don’t will be left behind and find themselves working less efficiently compared to their competitors.

In these challenging times, health and life science organizations need to take a further step and combine the power of the cloud with other key factors to success, including resilience, collaboration, and empathy. 

In the recent Experience Series Health IT Resiliency featuring: Rasu Shrestha, health IT experts explored and discussed how to drive adaptable, positive, human-focused transformation through technology.

“Technology is not the silver bullet; empathy is,” Shrestha told participants during the presentation.

Making Technology Usable, Integrated and Human
In healthcare, it is possible to have data-driven technology playing a leading role in daily operations but also fade into the background so it is a seamless part of the workday. It must be interoperable and easy to use so that it enhances (rather than hinders) an individual’s work experience.

It is imperative in healthcare that technology helps to get the right information to the right person at the right time. Whether that person is a physician or nurse seeking information about a patient’s previous test results or a patient wanting to view their own test results, integrated and interoperable cloud-based solutions make it easy for all of these people to find the information they need to make informed decisions. Further, with the unveiling of the interoperability rules from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), interoperability across platforms will soon be a requirement.

Cloud solutions vendors are creating integrated technology that delivers information quickly and efficiently, connects people and allows them to collaborate together no matter where they are in the world. Google Workspace, formerly GSuite, is one such platform that is like the consumer platform we know and love.

Frontline healthcare workers needing quick access to information can use Google Workspace tools with naturally user-friendly and collaborative tools like Drive, Docs and Sheets. Physicians can connect and share information virtually with colleagues, patients and patient families, often eliminating trips to a hospital or medical office. Virtual collaboration is here to stay, first out of necessity and now for the sake of a better way to work.

The goal in healthcare technology should be to fit the technology into the rhythms of peoples’ natural workflows and “fade into the background” rather than have it up front and center. It should feel normal to connect with colleagues and patients via cloud-based video chats, not something novel and out of place.

Finding Resiliency Through Adaptation and Innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that healthcare organizations need to be able to pivot and adjust at scale. As Rasu Shrestha discussed in his keynote presentation, provider organizations have had to quickly move from a supply model to one more focused on demand in healthcare IT.

Moving from a CapEx model to an OpEx technology payment model has been one way to do this. Cloud computing, with its pay-as-you-go billing structure, removes the need for capital expenditures, such as hardware and software. It instead provides healthcare organizations with infrastructure and tools that have allowed them to cost-effectively, quickly, and productively adapt to a new way of operating.

Cloud computing enables healthcare organizations to support virtual care in a way that’s far simpler than it would be with on-premise technology. It affords better connectivity in a secure, reliable environment. 

For example, North Carolina-based Atrium Health has been caring for thousands of patients in “virtual hospitals” since the pandemic’s onset, supporting thousands of virtual on-line visits in that time. This adaptive approach has helped keep patients out of emergency departments and increased bed capacity, allowing those beds to go to the patients who have needed them the most.

Sparking Transformation Through Partnership and Collaboration
No one organization can transform healthcare alone. The healthcare industry needs to work together, according to Shrestha. 

There are several ways industry players must work together in order to succeed in this new, pandemic-altered health and life sciences landscape:

  • Create strategic partnerships to leverage tools, skills, and technologies.
  • Cultivate the best talent within your organization or with partners.
  • Make it easy for healthcare workers to communicate and collaborate with modern, easy-to-use tools.

To create a real impact beyond the pandemic we need to be “not just on the cutting edge of medicine and science, but the cutting edge of inclusion.” We can only do this by working together and breaking down walls.

For healthcare, the cloud presents a distinctly different way of thinking and working, but as Rasu Shrestha noted in his presentation, “What was the norm in 2019 is now archaic in 2020.” Simply put, you can’t wait. You need to get on board with the cloud or you’ll miss the boat.

About the Author
Sunnie Southern is the vice president of the Health & Life Sciences Division at Onix, a cloud services provider based in Lakewood, Ohio. Onix’s technology experts help Health and Life Science organizations to realize the power of the cloud to work simpler, smarter and faster in a secure and compliant environment. 

As a Google Enterprise Partner since 2002 and 11-time Partner of the Year award-winner, Onix has helped hundreds of HLS customers to leverage the full range of Google Cloud technologies. From initial strategy and planning to execution, optimization and ongoing support, Onix is there every step of the way. To learn more about Onix and its work, visit or email

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