It is no secret that the cloud is taking over data dissemination across industries and healthcare is no exception. There are many ways that cloud-based information sharing benefits healthcare professionals. But along with better information sharing options comes the need for increased security. The healthcare industry collects and handles enormous amounts of data every year; the moment that data is applied in a cloud-sharing format, it opens itself up for potential breaches. This makes balancing security and accessibility very essential in the digital age.

 

The Benefits of Cloud-Computing

Within the healthcare industry, there are continuous improvements and changes being made. These changes not only affect the data that a particular hospital or healthcare provider houses, but also the way that their internal applications work. Cloud models provide these companies with the flexibility needed to introduce new initiatives or in-house programs with ease. Healthcare providers are also able to save significant amounts of money by eliminating the need for a server-maintenance budget by implementing cloud-based computing.

 

The Risks of Cloud-Computing

When approaching the implementation of any new technology, even one that is as widely-accepted as cloud-based data housing, it is crucial that the risks are identified and weighed. Some of the most common hurdles that will need to be satisfactorily addressed are the implementation, security risks, and ensuring HIPAA compliance.

 

Transitioning a healthcare provider’s data to the cloud is not a fast and painless process. It is an in-depth procedure of transferring all on-premise stored data and importing it into the cloud. Along with the switch comes the need to change your current methods of data handling. Another essential area of compliance that needs to be ensured through a move to the cloud is complying with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Acts. These standards not only need to be followed by the healthcare provider but also by the cloud provider.

 

Balancing Security and Accessibility

There are many ways in which the cloud provides both heightened security and increased security risks. Healthcare professionals need to be able to weigh these risks in conjunction with the increased accessibility that the cloud provides. The healthcare industry handles sensitive patient data, so ensuring that the data is safe and properly housed is of the utmost priority. This is one way that cloud-based data storage can help organizations the most but potentially hurt them too.

 

When data is housed on in-house servers, organizations can breathe easier when answering one of the key data storage questions “how is the data controlled,” but it opens a practice up to other vulnerabilities. Events as simple as the loss of a computer can lead to a host of data breaches. In the cloud, however, organizations have the ability to wipe said computer of any sensitive information. The cloud allows you to better answer the important “how is our data accessed” question, but requires you to put a high amount of trust into external storage.

 

More and more healthcare providers are moving into cloud-computing, so much so that it is becoming more of a standard for new practices than the exception. But as we make the switch to cloud-only computing, it is important to consider the potential risks and security pitfalls that can be encountered. Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues facing healthcare providers today even with a cloud-based data storage system. Moving toward the cloud should help many healthcare providers improve their processes and overall data storage while simultaneously highlighting the need for an increased focus on its security.