Recently healthcare providers have moved toward Cloud services to assist them with better service delivery. The fact is that the Cloud has gained popularity in healthcare. Some organizations that provide healthcare services are still not convinced that the Cloud is the way to go, but those that want to remain relevant have already made the worthy investment. There are different ways in which providers in healthcare depend on the Cloud in order to provide good medical services.
To start off, there is the data storage. Data is backed up in the Cloud and retrieved easily. Second, there is the Cloud app service where providers and patients can connect and have real-time conversations and consultations. These apps can be installed in different devices such as computers and phones that are powered by iOS, Android, and Windows. Lastly, the Cloud provides a platform where providers can post useful resources for reference. These resources could be researched by other physicians. They might include statistics in a given field of medicine, information explaining certain medical conditions, or maybe just simple medical articles.
What are the Benefits in Utilizing the Healthcare Cloud?
Healthcare organizations collect so much data from their patients for different reasons. The Cloud is the most efficient way of storing data because the information is not only stored in a computer but also backed up with an option of uploading it anytime anywhere. Data stored in the Cloud can be accessed from any device and if the primary computer system is compromised, the same data can be retrieved easily. The best part is that this kind of storage option helps to offload some data from the primary storage in computers and also ensure data security.
Storing and sending large files is now possible through the Cloud. Previously, files such as those containing patient genomic data could not be shared due to their size, which made it very expensive. The launch of Collaborative Cancer Cloud (CCC) has made it possible for the genomic data to be analyzed without necessarily risking health data privacy. Furthermore, CCC is aiming to improve data sharing while maintaining control of the data as explained by Eric Dishman, the Intel Fellow and General Manager of Intel Health &Life Sciences Group for HealthITSecurity.com.
The Cloud offers offsite storage and thus reduces the likelihood of someone stealing or interfering with sensitive data as it is not kept on a computer.
There are different ways of installing and managing Cloud services. There is the private cloud, public cloud, and also a hybrid of the two. These three kinds of Clouds offer varying security options. Private clouds can be hosted in an organization’s data center, or have the private cloud on a remote server which can be hosted by a Cloud service provider.
An on-premises private Cloud has the best security options mainly because control over the network is retained by the organization. It is a preferred option for those large organizations with IT departments equipped with staff that is well trained on cyber-security measures.
Public clouds, on the other hand, are an online platform for storage.
A hybrid of both would be a situation where there is a combination of the on-premises private cloud and third-party public services.
The Barriers to Utilizing Healthcare Cloud
Security and Privacy
Security is a legitimate concern when it comes to Cloud storage and more especially when it is patient data. Before an organization embarks on securing Cloud networks, they should ensure that security concerns are addressed from the onset. Basic data security options should be installed along with the Cloud computing. For starters, health entities can enter into some kind of agreement between them and the Cloud service providers setting out the limits of liability. Employees must also be trained in basic cybersecurity Dos and Don’ts.
Organizations worry that with the implementation of the Cloud, they will lose control over their own data. The only way to counter this kind of fear is to create a trust relationship between the organization and managed IT service provider. This can be achieved by entering into legally binding contracts such as the Business Associate Agreement.
Organizations can still manage their own data remotely and exclude outsiders from accessing data by requiring data encryption and also using managing keys. They also have the option of deciding where they want to store specific data if they want it on only one network, several networks, or even a link.
The Cloud offers great solutions with a number of benefits. At the same time, there are red lights which cannot be ignored. Most of these pitfalls have been mitigated as this technology has developed. What healthcare organizations should do is conduct thorough research before they decide to install Cloud network services. It’s important to get these services tailored to suit the specific needs of the organization.