This article looks at Cloud Server adoption in the healthcare industry via the following topics:

  • Introduction: Is the cloud right for healthcare?
  • Methodology of worldwide tech study
  • What the study revealed
  • Cloud archiving
  • Healthcare information services
  • HIPAA business associate.

Introduction: Is the cloud right for healthcare?

We all know that the public cloud is associated with security concerns – as demonstrated by the hacks of the Sony cloud and iCloud this fall.

However, like companies in any other industry, healthcare organizations are intrigued by the incredible performance of the cloud, which has given doctors, executives, and biomedical researchers affordable access to supercomputer power on demand.

It may seem at times that companies are being asked to risk the privacy of their patient’s medical records and the prospect of hefty HIPAA fines in exchange for the speed required to keep pace with modern business. That’s not the case, though. Healthcare now understands that third-platform virtualization doesn’t have to mean giving up data protections: private clouds have become more commonplace, and hybrid clouds allow organizations to develop software and conduct other non-sensitive tasks in a standard cloud setting while privatizing environments containing PHI.

A recent study by Dell, the Global Technology Adoption Index, shows that 96% of healthcare companies (24 out of every 25) have either deployed a cloud system or are planning to do so. According to an analysis of the study by Jasmine Pennic in HIT Consultant, the “healthcare industry is not only rapidly transforming but is more successfully closing the gap in cloud adoption” versus other verticals.

Methodology of worldwide tech study

Dell designed and conducted this study – healthcare was just one piece – through a partnership with research firm TNS, which surveyed 2038 respondents. The respondents were IT executives at midsize firms in both the public and private sectors across the planet. They were positioned throughout 11 global regions and represented a broad spectrum of industries. Results were then segmented into findings for each area of the world and field of business. Surveys were completed between July and September, and TNS gave the study a +/- 2.2% margin of error.

What the study revealed

  • More than 4 out of 5 healthcare companies use a private or hybrid system, evenly divided between the two (43% each, totaling 86%).
  • However, fewer people were “very confident” in the security of private cloud data, a total of 64%.
  • Interestingly enough, affordability was not considered the top cloud benefit by respondents. Instead, enhanced resource distribution was chosen as its top strength, beating out cost-effectiveness (39%) with almost half of the vote (46%).

As mentioned above, the Dell study looked broadly at the marketplace. Overall, 97% of midsize business IT executives said that their company would be utilizing the cloud in some manner, one point higher than healthcare. In other words, whether or not the public perception is that the cloud is unsafe for sensitive data, healthcare firms realize how to make it work FOR them, as is true throughout the global business world.

Another key finding of the study revealed the technology priorities of healthcare companies:

  • Reducing costs
  • Making upgrades to the infrastructure
  • Bolstering the technologies and physical environments of data centers.

Dr. Cliff Bleustein, CMO of Dell’s healthcare division, said that the desire of healthcare companies to become more “patient-centered” is met by the cloud since it releases technologists from mundane tasks so that they can provide their skills toward optimizing the patient experience and enriching it digitally.

Dr. Bleustein said that the cloud helps midsize healthcare providers “by providing the flexibility and scalability that enables [them] to be more nimble in the face of constant change.”

Cloud archiving

Centegra Health System was one organization that took part in the Dell study. Centegra CIO David Tomlinson, interviewed by Pennic, said that the primary reason his company was adopting the cloud was to store and share patient imaging files at a reduced rate, with better performance and better (gasp) security.

The Illinois-based healthcare provider did not jump from an on-premise image storage infrastructure to a cloud server overnight. Still, Tomlinson became convinced that it synergistically optimized efficiency and security, the two general top priorities of any technological solution. Tomlinson said that the provider was initially concerned about security and backups but was able to adapt cloud archiving “once we worked through the security component and established redundancy to ensure high availability.”

Dr. Bleustein noted that archiving within the cloud allows image data to be “actionable,” as can be understood by processing workflow functions through analytic tools.

Healthcare information services

Texas hospital Comanche County Medical Center has found that a cloud environment is ideal for its healthcare information system (HIS). By using a private cloud solution, the hospital has been able to redirect its computer professionals to other tasks. Ismelda Garza, CIO for CCMC, commented that the company was careful to select a cloud provider with extensive experience in HIPAA compliance: “It’s critical that our data is safe and secure because we’re dealing with confidential patient health records.”

HIPAA business associate

Atlantic.Net has been in business for 21 years, during which time two points of focus have emerged: VPS hosting and HIPAA-Compliant Hosting solutions. In other words, the healthcare cloud is the nexus at the center of our expertise. One of the most popular plans we offer is our HIPAA Self-Encrypting Storage. Get a quote today!