Healthcare firms must be cautious storing patient data in the cloud

There’s no doubt that advances in cloud computing make it easier for healthcare firms to provide valuable service improvements for their customers. By using process management software to connect doctors with the patients who need them, the cloud can expedite logistical tasks for companies and resolve issues that are tremendously important to patients’ health.

But according to MedCity News, healthcare companies must be cautious when proceeding with cloud integration, as there are many difficulties that can trip them up. It’s better to move carefully than to implement too many solutions, too quickly.

“Getting into the cloud is not an all-or-nothing game,” Joshua Newman, director of product and health strategy at Salesforce, told the news source.

There are two big reasons that rushing into the cloud might be hazardous for healthcare firms.

Failure to meet federal requirements
While the cloud aims to enable healthcare firms to share as much data as possible, as quickly as possible, it’s also important for companies to make sure they’re not providing too much exposure for information that’s supposed to remain confidential.

One major roadblock for health organizations looking to share information is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which sets nationwide standards for patient safety. In order to become certified for HIPAA compliance, firms must prove that they go to appropriate lengths to safeguard certain pieces of patient information that isn’t meant to be shared.

HIPAA compliance and cloud computing are often at odds with each other, as one values confidentiality and the other is used for easy sharing of information. But in order to adopt the cloud ethically and legally, companies must achieve this delicate balance.

Shortcomings with data security
According to VentureBeat, healthcare organizations also have a serious problem with hackers – 21 million people in the last three years have had sensitive health records breached in serious incidents reported to the federal government. The total number of such cyber-attacks is likely much higher, as millions of people have probably been victimized in smaller breaches that went unreported.

Health firms have progressed to a high-tech future by taking records off of films, tapes and paper charts and moving toward digitized storage units. But with that transition comes a responsibility to maintain patients’ security, and so far, many firms have failed in that regard.

The cloud brings with it a great deal of innovation for healthcare firms, but it also brings great risk for patients. Companies should tread carefully.