We are currently in the midst of a turbulent era in the history of the health care sector. Medical professionals have the technology to do more for their patients than ever before, which is great news, but they still face significant challenges when it comes to patient record-keeping. A number of difficulties, primarily relating to data security and compliance, stand in their way.
"Health organizations can be more efficient, secure, compliant and ultimately better for their customers."
There is good news on the horizon, though. As doctors and health insurance providers try to work together and better their patients' lives, there is hope that cloud computing can alleviate some of the main data-centric challenges they face. By exploring the advantages of cloud computing to the best of their capabilities, health organizations can make their operations more efficient, secure, compliant and ultimately better for their customers.
Data challenges in the 21st century
The dawn of the 21st century has brought about significant improvements in health care IT, such as the curation of digital records that make it easier for physicians and insurance providers to access vital information about patient histories. There's a drawback, though – like with every other form of data in existence these days, health care data is very susceptible to data breaches.
According to a report from the Cloud Standards Customer Council, privacy is a key challenge facing the HIT community today.
"Data maintained in a cloud may contain personal, private or confidential information such as health care related information that requires the proper safeguards to prevent disclosure, compromise or misuse," the organization stated. "Globally, concerns related to data jurisdiction, security, privacy and compliance are impacting adoption by health care organizations."
In addition, health firms also have to worry about compliance, as the arrival of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act has made it difficult to share information without violating any federal regulations. Clearly, there are a lot of technology difficulties that still remain.
How the cloud can help
The good news is that health organizations can rely on cloud IaaS providers to help them curate data in a way that's safer and more compliant.
"Around the globe, health care reform has mandated that it is time for health care information technology to be modernized, and cloud computing is at the center of this transformation," the CSCC report noted. "The health care industry is shifting toward an information-centric care delivery model, enabled in part by open standards that support cooperation, collaborative workflows and information sharing."
Thanks to the cloud, health professionals now have on-demand access to large data storage facilities that were never provided in traditional IT environments. Many cloud solutions also have greater security measures in place than the legacy data centers that firms used previously.
As always, disaster recovery is a key focus
The other concern that health firms must be aware of is disaster recovery planning. If any type of catastrophe becomes a threat, such as a major storm or a technical malfunction, medical professionals can't lose access to their data. Even a few minutes of downtime can be devastating to a patient in a critical care situation.
For this reason, it's important to lean on an IaaS provider that can guarantee safe and secure data curation without downtime. This is more important now than ever, as data has the potential to save lives.