With the exponential growth of uptake of healthcare cloud services, the healthcare cloud computing business sector is growing significantly in kind. Some conservative estimates suggest that the industry could be worth over $40 billion by 2026, and back in 2014, Forbes suggested that 82% of healthcare companies had a cloud presence, a figure that has no doubt increased since. 

As one of the United States’ leading healthcare cloud providers with 30 years of experience in the complex world of healthcare compliance, Atlantic.Net’s technical experts have created the world-class HIPAA-compliant hosting platform you need. But what are the major security and privacy challenges of cloud computing solutions in healthcare?

Data privacy is seen as one of the most critical risks to cloud computing in a healthcare organization, and the protection of patient health records and all forms of protected health information (PHI) are the number one concern for our security engineers. To protect our clients, we have adopted a number of risk-mitigating activities that are designed to protect patient data.

Atlantic.Net is HIPAA-compliant, HITECH audited, and SOC2 assessed. Our data centers and procedures adhere to the highest industry standards, which demonstrates to our customers that data integrity and the protection of electronic health records are our top priorities. If you are looking for a new cloud computing partner, make sure you perform detailed due diligence to ensure that their services exceed the latest HIPAA legislation rules and that the cloud computing service is the right fit for your business.

How is Cloud Computing Used in Healthcare?

A key subject in cloud computing is the digital transformation and cloud migration projects that many organizations are undertaking as they move their critical operations into the cloud. The healthcare industry is going through a radical program of change wherein monolithic, on-premise computing services are being replaced by dynamic and intelligent cloud service offerings.

How is cloud technology transforming the healthcare industry? Some benefits that are driving healthcare organizations to the cloud include:

  • Data Storage and Scalability – The healthcare industry is a complex machine saturated in digital patient data. Cloud data storage offers practically limitless amounts of data capacity to securely retain data in a resilient state. It is significantly easier to scale up resources in the cloud, making cloud computing the perfect prescription for growing healthcare needs.
  • Collaboration and Increased Data Interoperability – Cloud technology unlocks huge potential for collaboration and information sharing. Medical applications can share information and medical records to speed up the diagnosis process, while medical professionals can remotely collaborate on cases providing specialist care in an agile working environment. This flexibility has proven to be a game-changer during the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling remote working collaboration capabilities and providing deeper patient insights.
  • Artificial Intelligence –  The massive amount of data collected by healthcare practices enables the use of big data to improve patient services. Clinical research can benefit from AI; huge data sets can be processed to predict the early detection of diseases such as cancer. AI models can recognize different data patterns, and through annotation tools, they can train models to work more effectively in health systems. 
  • Machine Learning – ML is heavily utilized in diagnosis services; big data products such as IBM Watson can reference an extensive collection of medical journals and case studies to predict a patient’s diagnosis. Also, Google is developing a tool called Deepmind aiming to mimic the human brain neural networks, which may also have applications in the medical industry.

What are the Benefits of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Industry?

The security and reliability of cloud solutions are two of its largest benefits to a healthcare provider. Atlantic.Net has taken significant steps to provide hardened and robust cloud services to healthcare providers. Our HIPAA cloud service is built with security as the main driver of the design process, and our customer’s data is stored in a securely architected cloud service located in geographically compliant regions. 

Identity and access controls, as well as authentication and logging controls, are inherent to the design. ePHI data is encrypted at rest and in transit, a process that is managed by our encryption key management system.

Cloud-based solutions over time will reduce the capital expenditure (CAPEX) of healthcare providers and institutions; there is no longer the need to buy expensive servers, networks, and storage equipment, or have extensively trained teams to support the infrastructure. Local data centers can be consolidated or potentially closed after migrating to the cloud, offering even more savings.

The change to operational expenditure (OPEX) will introduce a pay-as-you-go subscription model where you only pay for the cloud solutions that you consume; heavy discounts are also offered for a 2 or 3-year commitment plan, an arrangement that will satisfy your finance team.

What are the Risks of Cloud Computing for a Healthcare Organization? 

Ransomware, malware, and viruses are the most serious threats facing global organizations that rely on information technology, and unfortunately, healthcare providers are a prime target for malicious hacking communities. Hackers and malefactors view electronic health records as a valuable commodity.

Medical providers operating in the industry have the immensely difficult task of protecting huge amounts of personal data and medical records while also satisfying the requirements of healthcare workers who need secure, rapid, efficient access to data.

While maintaining HIPAA compliance may not prevent a ransomware outbreak, it creates a protective environment that makes ransomware infection highly unlikely. In the unlikely scenario that your organization is breached, HIPAA safeguards can protect the integrity of ePHI, rendering the data useless in the event it is stolen. 

HIPAA compliant protections are put in place to enable the failover of technical services to a secondary location in the event of a disaster (such as a damaging ransomware event). These protections enable business-as-usual to continue in next to no time. 

The risks are a joint responsibility between the covered entity (such as healthcare providers) and the cloud provider. The cloud solutions provider is duly obliged to protect ePHI and medical records at all costs, but the covered entity must also do the utmost to reduce risk.

With Atlantic.Net’s HIPAA-compliant hosting and cloud computing services, we have implemented procedures that both detect and guard against malicious software, including hardware-layer protection against DDOS attacks, intrusion prevention systems that intelligently log and monitor every system, and a managed antivirus and anti-malware platform that is the operating system’s first line of defense.

What are the Risks and Rewards for Healthcare Organizations That Use Cloud Computing?

As in any industry, the adoption of new cloud computing technology will always be associated with risks. One such risk is that implementing a cloud computing strategy will create difficulties for employees in getting up to speed with new processes and tools. Staff might make mistakes, and data might be handled incorrectly. Cloud availability is another risk; our competitors have experienced major outages over the years, but only Atlantic.Net offers a 100% uptime SLA.

However, the biggest risk is that of security, which is already a major concern for healthcare organizations. The good news is that cybersecurity has evolved so much in the last decade that it is now viable for the cloud provider to be one step ahead of the hackers. 

Hackers will always choose the path of least resistance, so we have architected our platforms to make it as difficult as possible for hackers to gain access. Security is the number one priority of our HIPAA-compliant hosting, security that does not interrupt the user experience, but one that meets and exceeds the administrative, physical, and technical requirements of HIPAA compliance. 

Our clients who are healthcare providers are reaping the rewards of committing to cloud-first technology, with huge benefits afforded to them in the form of data storage capacity and impressive reprovisioning capabilities on a secure cloud computing platform. HIPAA compliant hosting protects patient data, provides a robust and resilient service, and creates a collaborative environment perfect for healthcare professionals to interact and share ideas.

HIPAA Compliant Hosting

Are you in need of cloud computing solutions that can protect the patient data of your organization? At Atlantic.Net, whatever your technical requirements, we can offer a top-grade HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Hosting solution. Get a HIPAA-Cloud Cost from one of our experts.

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Written by Richard Bailey

Linux, Cloud, and Lead IT Consultant with 20 years of experience.  Graduate of the University of Bradford, England. Enthusiastic about Technology, Automation, and Infrastructure as Code. Passionate writer, keen to understand and disseminate as much technical knowledge as possible.