Cloud has been a trending topic in healthcare for several years. Even after several iterations, the concept seems to have settled in the mainstream and is finding acceptance throughout healthcare. The cloud provides for convenient, efficient, cost effective, and safe solution delivery.
Organizations are successfully using the solutions to store and transfer data as more and more evidence points to the cloud being secure; storing information there often means greater protections for organizations in the event of catastrophe—weather, flood and tornado—and the information can easily be exchanged and retrieved.
Other benefits of using the cloud are numerous and many are widely cited, but here are some of the best reasons to implement the solutions, in no particular order:
- Cloud as collaboration tool: According to the Cloud Credential Council cloud-based collaboration tools help caregivers engage patients and view medical information. “Such capabilities are critical in situations where a patient may wish to seek advice from more than one medical practice. The ability to grant the patient control over who has access to their medical data could revolutionize primary healthcare delivery,” the organization states. Collaboration extends to fellow caregivers, too. Information flows easier when the cloud is in use and allows for remote consultations and patient visits and for the review of information. Additionally, care teams have up-to-date patient information at their fingertips that can be exchanged electronically by e-prescription, ordering and viewing labs, and through a patient portal.
- Upgrade in mobility: Mobile Tweaks suggests that by storing data in the cloud, healthcare providers ensure their staffs have access to information anywhere and anytime. Mobility provides medical personnel access to a plethora of information from any location and from a whole set of devices anywhere. Cloud and mobile concepts in healthcare are a far cry from their predecessors of paper-based, on-premise only information systems and data exchanges.
- Security in the cloud: HIPAA requires clouds to operate in a secure environment and for service providers to comply with the standards set to protect personal information. Clouds are typically created with built-in security controls. For some added perspective, the number of attacks on cloud systems is increasing at the same rate as it is for on-premise solutions. According to Rack Space, “From 2012 to 2013, vulnerability scanning attacks jumped from 27 percent to 44 percent for cloud-hosted environments, and from 28 percent to 40 percent for on-premise datacenters.”
- Analytics and information: Cloud solutions allow for the collection of and analyzing of data. According to IBM, applying analytical methods, such as statistics and predictive and quantitative models, provides better insights and outcomes. “As far back as 2010, there is evidence that 93 percent of providers identified information explosion as the biggest factor anticipated to influence their organizations to a large extent over the next five years.”
- Cloud lowers costs: Clouds alleviate the need for hardware infrastructure and the need to invest in these technologies, leading to a reduction of costs for the practice. Additionally, there are fewer long-term financial commitments for services and fewer minimal upfront costs for cloud services used. “The true power of cloud is what the technology, implementing rapidly deployed services in the cloud, can mean for your business,” Wired reports.
- Backup and recovery options: The cloud alleviates backup and recovery of data. Most cloud service providers provide backup and recovery for their clients and they are able to handle recovery of all stored information in an efficient manner. This makes moving to the cloud beneficial to small practices, especially those that are unable dedicate resources to managing complex networks and manually managing security.
By engaging a cloud services provider, practices can continue to focus on the business development and practice. Moving data to the cloud and partnering with a vendor that can manage the responsibilities of protecting the data is often a worthwhile investment for practices that lack the in-house experience or expertise to ensure that they, and their patients, are protected. If they make the move, there are clear benefits along the way.