Note: This is blog 4 of 4 in our HIPAA series.
A wave of breaches in 2016 exposed vulnerabilities at the heart of the healthcare system. This resulted in a new sense of urgency for data security in the industry. Breaches can happen when devices connected to healthcare data aren’t protected, when employees aren’t properly trained, or when data isn’t encrypted or segregated to make it less accessible.
HIPAA compliance is the fundamental building block of better data security for the healthcare industry. This legislation, signed into law during the 1990s and later updated in 2009, provides requirements regarding the confidentiality and privacy of protected health information, or PHI. Of course, it only works if healthcare institutions follow the law and regulations, and implement a compliance program designed to protect the safety of PHI.
The nature and sophistication of cloud computing has the power to revolutionize healthcare and HIPAA compliance. By its very nature, it offers ease of access to patients and healthcare providers, slashes costs for IT departments and improves data security.
HIPAA entitles everyone to access their complete medical record. A cloud environment for a healthcare provider can offer 24/7 access to records, something that’s expected in today’s tech-connected environment.
Many providers offer some form of a patient portal where patients can securely sign on from anywhere. These portals vary in capabilities; some are limited to medical records, while others allow for patient-physician communication and appointment scheduling. The portal should maintain all the security features needed to remain HIPAA compliant.
Costs can drop dramatically with cloud adoption because cloud computing providers can tailor to health care institutions’ needs and scale up and down with the ebb and flow of their business. This reduces capital expenditure in IT and cuts the salary costs of an IT department. The system changes from being capital-intensive to a pay-as-you-go model that prioritizes agility and scalability over large-scale infrastructure.
If a physician or hospital had their own in-house servers, they’d not only have to pay the initial costs to purchase, but also for maintenance and security. Even then, it is unlikely that their security would be as robust as a cloud solution.
Data security is a critical factor for all cloud service providers, and is a major concern for the healthcare industry. A private cloud with segmented data and limit access is ideal for this purpose. It can handle processes like registration, billing, scheduling and customer feedback, and is a good way to begin a migration to the cloud while the healthcare provider and the cloud company build trust together.
There are many benefits of migrating to the cloud—first-class hardware, sophisticated software resources, and IT professionals. Using a cloud service provider like Mozy by Dell will help healthcare providers in their efforts to safeguard against data breaches, comply with HIPAA, and keep costs under control so that they can focus on delivering health services.