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Future of health is in cloud computing and big data, says former Apple CEO

John Sculley forecasts huge increases in computing power and cheaper online storage will help solve problems with healthcare

Huge increases in computing power and cheaper online storage will help solve innovation and funding problems with healthcare, according to former Apple CEO John Sculley.

He says cloud computing has greatly increased the rate at which computing power rises, exponentially further than Moore's Law, and combining this with 'big data analytics' – the ability to analyse huge amounts of data – will change healthcare.

Sculley served as CEO at Apple for a decade to 1993, overseeing the company's launch of the world's first 'personal digital assistant' in the 1980s, and is now a venture capitalist with a focus on healthcare.

As healthcare costs continue to rise more quickly than inflation or government's tax revenues the answer to healthcare problems is in being more innovative, he said.

"Politicians are arguing among themselves as to who's going to pay for it," Sculley told The Guardian. "It's completely unaffordable at its current growth rates, and the more I get a chance to understand healthcare, the more convinced I am that the problem is very solvable, but it's solvable through innovation, not through just governments trying to work out who pays for what.

"So it's not just about taking cloud computing and automating the healthcare system we have today, it literally means innovating and reinventing the health care system to make it much more patient-centric."

But this change will still rely on the computing power brought together by the cloud and its combination with big data analytics, Sculley said. “That's going to give us hope that what looked like insolvable problems like health care can be solved."

Last month a study by GBI Research heralded the cloud as the next big thing in healthcare IT, predicting that hospital information systems (HIS) using cloud computing would continue to grow in number.

GBI Research predicts the global healthcare IT market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9 per cent, ultimately reaching $20.5bn by 2017.

Pharma and cloud computing
Several big pharma companies have been investigating the possibilities of cloud computing over the last few years.

In 2010 GlaxoSmithKline signed up with Microsoft cloud services, estimating the move would enable it to shave 30 per cent off its operational costs by using the Windows Azure Platform to securely collaborate outside the company, when it comes to M&A or joint venture activities.

But 2010 also saw Lilly's relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) sour after Amazon refused to accept greater responsibility for the performance of its cloud-based networks. The pharma company had been saving millions of dollars in IT costs by using AWS to analyse data much faster than it could on its own infrastructure.

More recently Roche decided in February this year to move the entire company's email and calendar platforms to Google Apps.

Writing on the Google Enterprise blog Dr Alan Hippe, CFO and CIO of the Roche Group, said: “When we evaluated new cloud-based solutions, Roche's Corporate Executive Committee was impressed with the outstanding service and rapid innovation of Google Apps. Google Apps will enable over 90,000 employees to work better together from anywhere.”

The move will allow employees to access email and documents from any web-enabled device, without using remote access systems such as a VPN connection. This, Hippe said, will make it easier for employees to work from home or on the go and reduce the strain on Roche's IT support teams.

“Removing barriers to communication and innovation while enhancing mobile access is a key part of our Roche IT strategy,” he said.

21st May 2012

From: Marketing


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