Meeting the Special Needs of Healthcare Organizations in the Cloud
Healthcare, like every industry today, is highly dependent on technology. Like organizations in those other industries, they need to use technology cost-effectively. But because their industry is so highly regulated and collects such sensitive data and outages can literally mean life or death, cloud implementations in healthcare need to be carefully thought through to ensure they meet the needs of patients, providers, and regulators.
Cloud Capabilities Needed for Healthcare
From a financial standpoint, healthcare providers need the cost savings and agility promised by cloud. Other critical considerations include:
When healthcare providers can’t access systems or provide services, patients stay sick. Cloud offers a level of high availability automatically, with the cloud provider enabling failover to another server in case of failure. In many cases, this failover can happen automatically, minimizing impact. In Microsoft Azure, Azure Availability Zones provide additional high availability protection within a region. For even more protection, businesses can use multiple regions for protection in case of a wider outage.
Protecting patient confidentiality is a legal and ethical requirement for healthcare providers, and security has been the biggest concern for all businesses adopting cloud, not just those in healthcare. However, the reality is that cloud is often more secure than locally maintained data centers. Cloud providers typically have bigger security staffs and more capability to keep up with routine but critical security measures such as applying patches. It remains important to be careful when configuring cloud environments, but cloud providers also can automatically check systems for adherence to best practices. Support for identity and access management as well as encryption in the cloud place limits on users’ ability to read sensitive data.
The regulatory schemes that apply to healthcare providers can be difficult to comply with. Cloud can provide a shortcut to compliance. Microsoft Azure offers assistance in satisfying HIPAA and HITRUST, including blueprints for mapping Azure controls to the compliance requirements.
The demand on healthcare providers changes unpredictably, with periods of intense demand that risk overloading the system. The ability of cloud to dynamically adjust to demand, both up and down, gives healthcare providers access to the resources they need when they need them, and doesn’t require ongoing expenditures after the demand returns to normal.
Solving medical mysteries requires safely sharing patient data with the top medical experts. Because cloud is easily accessed from anywhere, it provides support for this necessary collaboration.
Medicine today is about populations and data as well as the individual patient in the exam room. Cloud offers the storage and cpu needed for big data. Toolkits make it easy to apply analytics and artificial intelligence methodologies.
Whether healthcare organizations implement their IT in the cloud or keep it onsite in their own data center, the sensitive nature of healthcare data makes security the number one implementation concern. The experts at Prescient Solutions help healthcare providers develop robust technical infrastructure with high levels of protection against data breaches and disasters. Contact us to learn more about our IT services for healthcare organizations in the Chicago and Schaumburg areas.