As we all know very well by now, A Cloud Server relies on the concept of economies of scale to provide massive resources for storage and computing power to any and all users who sign up for such services. Google’s multitude of services, from Gmail to Hangout, are examples of extremely popular cloud-based applications.
Cloud technology is continuously evolving and improving as new products are released onto the market, but the health information technology industry has already greatly benefited from cloud solutions. In what ways has the healthcare industry used cloud solutions? How will cloud technologies continue to transform the healthcare industry over the coming years?
Resiliency in data security.
According to Greg Arnette, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Sonian, a reputable cloud solution provider, “The cloud infrastructure offers durability and up-time that far exceed what any hospital’s IT department could offer.”
Why is the cloud so much more durable and resilient than in-house architecture? Large cloud service providers have both the monetary and physical resources to build large and secure redundant data centers that place backup, data resiliency and uptime as main priorities.
Since these resources are so powerful and are available in such large quantities, HIPAA compliant cloud computing solutions can be extremely budget-friendly: cloud storage can start at as little as 10 cents a month, even for the most premiere services.
Cloud hosting service providers typically strive for a higher bar of excellence when compared to traditional hosting providers since the technology is newer; this only benefits you as a customer.
Resiliency in privacy.
Obviously, privacy within the healthcare industry is of upmost importance. More often than not, sensitive information in a hospital’s storage room is often separated from the public (and prying eyes) by just a simple door lock.
When data is located in a cloud server, it is a completely encrypted blob that not even the cloud provider has direct access to. Additionally, cloud providers are required to adhere to strict industry privacy standards such as those outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
“The levels of security [in a cloud environment] are much higher than what you see in a local IT department,” says Arnette.
Cloud customers can upgrade or downgrade the services they receive with just a few clicks, with minimal or no interruption to service and at an affordable cost.
Cloud technologies are also evolving at a surprisingly rapid pace. When discussing Amazon’s S3 cloud service, Arnette explains, “In the first five years [of its service] there were ten price drops and fifty new major features. In the last year there were ten price drops and 75 new features.”
Before the cloud was introduced, healthcare providers would be hassled by being forced to install and implement new software on an unforeseeable basis. Now, all they have to do is upgrade with each new major release, which occurs about every two or so years.
Cloud providers are continuously beefing up data processes and implementing new products to improve computing power, thus freeing up in-house IT staff to work on routine maintenance and basic administration.
We are living in an age where practically anything we do or see is powered by mobile applications. And, according to Arnette, “Every great mobile application is backed by some cloud infrastructure.”
When they store all of their data within HIPAA compliant cloud storage, healthcare providers have the ability to access that information anywhere they need to.
By transitioning to a cloud service, healthcare providers will witness greater speed and access to information, ultimately improving the patient’s overall experience and optimizing productivity.
Some major healthcare providers are even developing their own mobile applications to ease patient’s experience with their services. These applications now allow you to check emergency room waiting times, schedule appointments with your general practitioner and even analyze the severity of your symptoms to predict the necessity of an appointment with your doctor.
Developing industry trends.
The ultimate goal of cloud providers is to integrate their products and services into existing architecture, eventually replacing these architectures altogether and empower more people and systems in the long-term.
“Cloud service providers have been good about pushing open formats instead of closed formats, meaning that the structures and file systems employed are open and easily adaptable to,” says Arnette. This makes adopting cloud technologies as a replacement for existing ones much easier, more efficient and surprisingly cheaper.
It just makes sense to transition to cloud-based services, especially for those within the healthcare industry. The cloud enables them to remove current inefficiencies in their IT infrastructure, improve collaboration among employees, reform the patient experience and increment their IT budget, while mainting it all on a HIPPA Compliant Hosting company.
If you are a healthcare provider and you are curious to learn more about how the cloud can help improve your current practices, give Atlantic.Net a call today.