The health record is an essential communication tool that supports clinical decision-making. Concern about patient privacy and confidentiality is as old as medicine itself. When it comes to our medical records, nothing is more important than our privacy.
Digital technology has radically transformed our world. Tablets, smartphones, and web-enabled devices have radically changed our daily lives and the way we communicate. The healthcare industry is sensibly trying to balance between innovation and patients’ privacy.
Individuals and medical professionals are working closely to make health data safer and accessible in order to better treat patients. However, healthcare organizations must keep this sensitive information safe from hackers, which many of them have had a hard time doing. Many medical organizations across the world have reported hundreds of cyber intrusions per year.
Nowadays, there is a growing trend of storing all kinds of data, including our medical records, on the cloud. People and organizations lease or buy storage capacity from providers to store all sorts of data in the cloud.
Many healthcare providers are diverting to cloud-based data storage because of the promise of significant savings. All the reputed cloud-based storage providers by default provide the right amount of security within their infrastructure. But sometimes the cloud is not necessarily as secure as other forms of storage, and since providers know this fact they have to spend extra bucks on security, expenditure that can offset cost savings.
You can encrypt the data before uploading as it is a good idea just to be on the safe side. To make sure that your data remains safe from hackers, you can write a small script that reads the file in binary and encrypts it with a secret key that only you know. When you wish to download it back, you will have to use the same key to decrypt it.
Healthcare IT leaders’ stance on cloud-based storage data, transfer, and retrieval are often mixed. Some are quite firm believers in the power, cost-savings, and scalability afforded by the cloud while others share concerns ranging from data ownership and security to patient protection.
It is quite evident that data storage in a safe and reliable manner is a top priority for health care organizations. For large healthcare organizations, managing patient records in different files can be way too challenging without the help of a powerful technology. Pulling out physical files from its storage area wastes precious resources in time and money, adding a significant cost in employee expenses.
On the other hand, with cloud storage systems, it all becomes much easier. When considering cloud-based solution especially in the healthcare industry, it is crucial to separate fact from fiction. Here are few myths that continue to misdirect and misguide the cloud discussion in keeping health records on cloud-based storage systems.
Myth #1: The provider owns patient data.
There are loads of healthcare providers who constantly worry about data ownership when using a third-party storage provider. In reality, all data belongs to the provider regardless of where it is stored.
There is a standard agreement between cloud storage vendors and healthcare providers where the former is obligated to return all data if and when the provider wishes to end the agreement.
In addition to this, some of the best cloud solutions are vendor-neutral. This means that encrypted data is stored in its original format so it is easily downloaded in its original form for use at any time.
Myth #2: Data stored on-site is more secure than cloud.
There is a general understanding that physical theft of on-site devices and their data continues to grow as one of the most likely causes of data breaches. Although keeping data on-site feels like the safer route for some businesses and top IT leaders, the fact is that keeping data close to home doesn’t necessarily mean high-security levels.
In addition to theft, a grave concern for healthcare providers are hackers who break into servers. In fact, the chances of enterprise data centers suffering a malware/bot attack are four times greater compared with a cloud-hosting provider.
The fact is that cloud-based solutions can have tangible security advantages not offered by on-site storage. Many cloud service providers in the market have now agreed to offer healthcare practitioners an agreement which is called as Business Associate Agreement (BAA). This contract will help in relieving some of the practice’s liability and share the security tiers and encryption methods they use to ensure patients’ protection.
Myth #3: Disaster recovery solution is cloud storage’s only benefit.
To ensure business continuity by using off-site cloud storage when there is a panic situation may seem like a piece of cake for those using the cloud, but its benefits don’t end there. This capacity for disaster recovery is particularly important in healthcare, where collaboration and information-sharing between providers and patients is essential for timely diagnosis and quality of care.
Services like secure, easy-to-use file transfer for sharing medical reports, images, and patient history, are offered by numerous cloud storage providers. This eliminates the common and tiring practice of burning CDs with patient’s medical data, or faxing/e-mailing files to health providers and patients simultaneously or other health providers, which puts data at significant risk.
Doctors can share files in real-time and remotely to consult with other specialists and their colleagues with zero compromise on patient privacy by using a secure cloud-based file sharing. This enables healthcare providers to improve their response times through efficient and safe collaboration.
Myth #4: Cloud storage and file transfer are more expensive than on-premises.
Leveraging a cloud model to enable secure storage and retrieval of health data need not be exorbitant in cost. In fact, primary benefits over on-premises solutions are available in terms of cost savings and scalability, which is a process to handle a growing amount of work . Cloud-based sources are scalable as you progress; with easy options like pay-as-you-use pricing plans which not just offer flexibility but also eliminate upfront fees and capital equipment expenses.
When examining total cost of ownership and comparing with on-premises solutions, health providers need to account for all costs associated with the on-premises model including consulting, support staff, security equipment, warranties, hardware refreshes and data retention. These things normally result in much greater costs as compared to most cloud models.
Although misconceptions like these continue to hinder cloud storage implementations, success stories at healthcare practices, hospitals, and systems nationwide are numerous. As a whole, technological progress in health care, including safe and sound storage and transferring of electronic medical records with the help of such services as Computer Mate, and electronic access to files and cloud storage, are proving to deliver better care coordination and a more efficient health record system.
The main purpose here is to offer the best treatment to the patient in a way that their personal health information remains safe and sound. The cloud-based storage system is not only the future of health care but the future of storage of all kinds of information pertaining to one’s life or business.
It clearly provides economic incentives for healthcare providers to deliver data confidentiality, integrity, and availability in new ways. It enables healthcare organizations to store and process workloads using the resources of other organizations.
The difficulty of managing increasing complexity requires healthcare organizations to increase efforts to secure data assets while ensuring their utility is optimized. Cloud is certainly the way to go for medical records for the simple reason that healthcare data will always continue to expand. Even though it is a new technology, it can be trusted with sensitive data.
In order to keep up with the never-ending evolution of technology, we will soon find that it is necessary to move data to the cloud.