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Cloud computing has impacted many areas of society and the business world. In some cases, the benefits that organizations realize by using cloud services are transparent to the majority of the population. Most people are not overly concerned with how an organization designs its infrastructure unless they are directly affected by it. One industry that everyone interacts with at one time or another is healthcare. 

Requirements of the Healthcare Industry

The ways that the healthcare industry is using cloud services will change the way medical care and information are handled throughout the world. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry and has some specific requirements that must be met by a cloud provider. These are some of the most important characteristics that are essential components of cloud computing for healthcare.  

  • High data availability is of primary concern to healthcare providers. This includes effective backup, recovery, and disaster recovery procedures that eliminate or minimize downtime. 
  • Security is another factor that is critical to viable healthcare cloud solutions. Sensitive personal and patient data needs to be protected against unauthorized access and data breaches.  
  • Data protection regulations such as the GDPR or HIPAA demand that providers demonstrate that their infrastructures and policies comply with the standards defined in the legislation. 

Benefits of Cloud Computing in Healthcare

There are potential advantages to both healthcare providers and consumers as more organizations make use of cloud computing. The following are some of the ways that the cloud services are transforming healthcare.

Increased Storage Capacity

The healthcare industry works with immense amounts of data that cannot easily be accommodated by in-house storage solutions. As big data is incorporated by healthcare organizations for analytics, storage needs rapidly increase. One of the overriding factors in all areas of healthcare is controlling costs, and the cloud offers a procurement model where you only pay for what you need and use.

In addition to keeping costs under control, the flexibility built into many cloud models enables organizations to rapidly scale up and down as their needs change. As new data channels open up and more health-related data needs to be analyzed, the ability to dynamically modify storage capacity can increase enterprise productivity. Backup, restore, and disaster recovery are standard offerings that accompany cloud storage.

Information Sharing and Collaboration

The ability to share electronic health records (EHRs) among healthcare providers and facilities results in better and more effective patient care. EHRs that are stored on the same cloud network are more easily accessible by multiple providers than those housed in a single facility. Healthcare organizations are moving toward better integration of EHRs in dedicated systems. Collaborative cloud analytics can help produce innovative medical techniques beyond the capability of individual institutions. 

Ensuring Security of Sensitive Personal Information

Public cloud providers can offer enhanced security over that which can be implemented by individual organizations. This is extremely important due to the focus that cybercriminals put on the healthcare industry. Ransomware attacks on healthcare providers were on the rise as 2019 came to a close.

Cloud security is a shared responsibility between the provider and customer. Healthcare organizations need to keep this in mind and fully understand the role each party plays in protecting the sensitive information they choose to keep in the cloud. 

 

Last modified on Monday, 16 March 2020
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 Robert Agar

I am a freelance writer who graduated from Pace University in New York with a Computer Science degree in 1992. Over the course of a long IT career I have worked for a number of large service providers in a variety of roles revolving around data storage and protection. I currently reside in northeastern Pennsylvania where I write from my home office.

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