Cloud computing in medical field offers undeniable benefits. While there are many benefits of using cloud, one of the key benefits is its use for EHR(Electronic Health Records). With cloud it’s easier to store and access healthcare records. Files that are stored in cloud can be accessed anytime, and from anywhere making it easier for healthcare workers to share crucial patient information for timely intervention and prevention.
The question is whether cloud storage is secure for storing and accessing sensitive medical and personal information? Well, HIPAA has laid down clear rules regarding the storage and sharing of healthcare and medical information. An organization that is handling the records has to be compliant with HIPAA guidelines.
So, healthcare providers & facilities are now opting for HIPAA-compliant cloud solutions. . These HIPAA-compliant cloud tools offer several benefits, including remote file sharing, expanded storage, custom applications and cost saving. This helps healthcare organizations to develop a dynamic and future-proof infrastructure.
Very soon, cloud computing will become an IT infrastructure standard in healthcare, and this will help in the continuing progress of big data analytics and electronic health records activities.
Cloud Computing and Healthcare
Over the last few years, HIPAA compliant cloud computing solutions have proven their value and worth to the medical and healthcare industry. Cloud computing has made it possible to collect patient data easily and more efficiently , while providing users quick access to a large library of data for better and faster patient care. Cloud technology is being used in various facets of the health IT infrastructure, including disaster recovery, IoT devices, analytics, storage, and more.
System and organization growth are considerable incentives for healthcare institutions to adopt cloud solutions. Medical technology, such as custom mobile application development or virtualization is much easier to integrate into cloud-based infrastructure.
Healthcare providers are dissatisfied with having a large amount of virtual storage for their administrative and clinical information that cannot be accessed easily and is siloed in various departments. Studies have shown that analytics-as-a-service is one the latest service models that benefit the healthcare industry extensively, including an improvement in the storage and data collection methods.
Does Cloud Computing Play an Important Role in Healthcare?
Cloud computing in medical field has significantly improved how organizations are using their data. It comes with special features that aim to truncate the burden of heavy investment and use resources outsourcing, hardware, software, parallel computing, automated resource management, and utility computing.
With time, healthcare organizations are getting comfortable with cloud solutions adoption as a part of their IT infrastructure. This in turn is speeding up the adoption of big data analytic and cloud computing in healthcare.
Cloud storage provides flexibility for cloud-native applications that is important for all users. It protects the organization from losing data in case of a natural disaster or data breach. Disaster recovery-as-a-service and backup ensures data resilience by automating data recovery in the cloud.
Cloud computing plays a significant role for healthcare organizations that want to take advantage of the Internet of Things (IOT) and connected medical devices. The latter communicates with the cloud and collects valuable healthcare data from physiological monitors, MRI CT/ultrasound scanners, mobile medical apps, wearables, etc. All data is collected for analytical purposes. It helps analysts study data in detail for better patient assessment and treatment. When used strategically, cloud computing in healthcare can add a lot of value to healthcare providers as well as improve outcomes for patients.
How Does HIPAA Apply to Cloud Storage?
No cloud server is HIPAA-compliant from the very beginning. However, IT teams can make it cloud compliant for those who need it.
Healthcare organizations need to keep in mind that there isn’t any official HIPAA certification. So, it is up to the cloud computing and health organization to make sure that they are adhering to the requirements of the laws.
The key features of HIPAA compliant cloud are:
When healthcare organizations put PHI in cloud storage, the provider is taken by law to be a business associate of the healthcare organization. In order to be HIPAA compliant, an agreement needs to be in place. The agreement has to state the cloud service provider will,
- Store data securely
- Secure data that is being transmitted to the cloud
- Keep a record of all activity
- Offer a system that will enable careful control of data access
The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides the covered entities, as well as the business associates, to set up the integrity of ePHI and protect it from unauthorized changes or destruction. Healthcare organizations have to identify where ePHI has been stored, received, and transmitted. It requires special care when it comes to the cloud storage service.
How can Healthcare Organizations Be Sure That They are Using Cloud Solutions that are HIPAA-Compliant?
Not all cloud solutions are the same. Organizations need to handle the physical and logistical security of their infrastructure and use security protocols, which will take the full lifecycle of protected health information into account.
Every cloud-based solution for healthcare, regardless of its purpose, has to be HIPAA compliant. Cloud vendors that are HIPAA-complaint are always ready to discuss how their solution adheres to HIPAA regulations. Nevertheless, not all vendors that claim to be HIPAAcompliant are actually HIPAA-compliant. So, they might not even be the best solution for the healthcare organization.
Although a cloud-based solution for healthcare makes you compliant for the future, it won’t really address the current compliant issues you have. There are a few key points when you ensure that the technology will work in enabling HIPAA compliance.
Find out if the vendor you are choosing is ready to sign a business associate agreement. In case they do not know what it is or are hesitating, they might not be the right vendor to select. Clearly, they do not understand your healthcare compliance requirements.
Cloud solutions come with different tools or features that are produced by some other vendor and provided in collaboration or because the main vendor doesn’t have their own solution. This isn’t uncommon. However, the HIPAA compliance of the main vendor doesn’t extend to the other vendor. Thus, when you are availing cloud computing in the medical field, you have to check if every tool is from the primary vendor.
The security rules of HIPAA require the covered entities to perform a risk assessment of the organization, including cloud deployments. The HIPAA risk assessment makes sure that a healthcare organization is compliant with the technical, physical, and administrative safeguards of HIPAA. You can take the help of a tool for risk assessment.
Cloud is a lightweight and affordable way to collect and analyze data while speeding up daily operations and offering personalized and efficient patient care.
ResolveData is a HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Storage Service
In case your healthcare organization is ready to adopt cloud storage, choose ResolveData, a company that focuses on HIPAA compliance. Our experts will help you unlock and create incredible value. They will collaborate with you and help with the deployment of cloud.
The full suite of cloud services that the company offers will help in transforming your organization into a cloud-native one. Learn more about how ResolveData can help your cloud transformation journey by simply dropping us a line here.(firstname.lastname@example.org)