“Health Cloud” from Salesforce is a product that you may have heard a number of times over the years. But you may only have a vague notion of what it can do.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the origins of Health Cloud and what the offering means today in practical terms. The moniker was coined by Salesforce, which announced the general availability of Salesforce Health Cloud at the HIMSS conference in February of 2016.
Origins of ‘Cloud’
Let’s start with just the Cloud part.
Salesforce was instrumental in popularizing the word ‘Cloud’ as a metaphor in the tech industry. Originally, the term represented a shift from purchased, on-premises software applications to multi-tenant applications hosted in a data center and delivered via the internet. Software subscription, rather than software purchase, is associated with multi-tenancy.
With a connotation of puffy, fair-weather cumulus clouds against a blue sky, Cloud graphics served to represent an application served up outside of an organization’s physical location. Those outside locations are globally distributed data centers. In the case of Salesforce, the data centers are a combination of “Salesforce-managed” centers and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Salesforce uses a Dodger blue image of a cloud that contains the word Salesforce in white letters as an iconic representation of the company’s brand. The cloud image remains prominent on all of Salesforce’s web properties, social media accounts, and partner logos.
The Expansion of Cloud-Based Functionality
A look at the history of Salesforce reveals that Salesforce began as a multi-user Sales Force Automation (SFA) application. Hence the company name.
SFA is a set of functionality that helps sales teams and business development staff with organizing daily activities, logging the outcomes of various types of communications, forecasting revenue, and even generating quotes & proposals.
Over time, Salesforce evolved into a platform for serving users across multiple departments within an organization, particularly in those users’ interactions with customers.
The broader term Customer Relationship Management (CRM) replaced the term Sales Force Automation. The platform now provided a 360-degree view of the customer. The number of data silos within an organization could be decreased via many-to-one database consolidation into a CRM system.
Over a span of more than two decades, Salesforce has rolled out bundles of functionality for different industries. These industries include financial services, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, and, of course, healthcare & life sciences. The word Cloud was applied to most of these products.
Salesforce Health Cloud Today
Salesforce Health Cloud has continued to be the main branding for healthcare & life sciences applications.
Today, Health Cloud can be viewed as multiple bundles of functionality that can be applied to a wide range of use cases for providers, payers, pharmaceuticals, and medical device manufacturers—all ultimately relating to patients. The 360-degree view of the customer within corporations has been translated to the 360-degree view of the patient in healthcare.
In fact, you can expect to see “360 Degrees of Healthcare” referenced frequently by Salesforce moving forward.
As Salesforce puts it, “Salesforce reimagined as a healthcare CRM seamlessly connects systems of record and improves visibility into the entire health journey, enabling personalized interactions that strengthen relationships and build trust with customers, whether they’re patients, members, providers, or partners.”
It’s worth mentioning that Health Cloud is not a replacement for an EHR system, but it can be integrated with an EHR using FHIR standards.
Salesforce Health Cloud is ever-evolving. Both Salesforce and its large partner ecosystem have been continually adding new capabilities—both as prepackaged apps and as custom solutions.
In terms of prepackaged functionality, a keyword search for “healthcare” on the Salesforce AppExchange reveals over 150 third-party apps with at least some connection to healthcare.
In many cases, prepackaged functionality can be further customized for the precise needs of a healthcare or life sciences organization. When there isn’t anything available off-the-shelf to address a specific business requirement, a Health Cloud customer or a Salesforce consulting partner can develop fully custom functionality from the ground up using Salesforce-provided declarative (no code) and coding tools.
What’s Next for Health Cloud?
Enhancing the patient experience has been a growing area of focus over the last several years for Salesforce, members of its ecosystem, and its customers. You can expect to see many new creative, patient-centric solutions within healthcare & life sciences for years to come.