By CloudSAFE

Big Data and Cloud Computing in Healthcare

For an industry known for its brilliance and innovation, the healthcare industry has been a rather late adopter of electronic information technology. Except for sophisticated electronic diagnostic and therapeutic equipment in common use, our industry has resisted transitioning to electronic health records for the longest time. Even now, according to CDC data, anywhere from 40% to 86% of all providers are using some form of electronic record system, but only 40% are doing so meaningfully!

Today, many years behind the rest of the civilized world and after spending billions of dollars in incentives, our industry has arrived (kicking and screaming, I might add) at a point where we compulsively collect and electronically record voluminous amounts of patient healthcare data every day.

Suffice it to say, the tipping point of big data in healthcare has arrived.

Healthcare Data Storage and Retrieval

Continuous improvements in image resolutions and other advances creates even larger patient files resulting in greater demands for secure healthcare data storage for organizations that is already bursting at the seams. Magnifying the storage problem further is the regulatory requirement to preserve data for seven to sometimes twenty-five years!

While it was fashionable to have endless banks of servers and the colorful spaghetti of wires in near-freezing server rooms in restricted access areas of every facility to store all data, realization has begun to set in that it is unrealistic and unsustainable to simply keep adding more and more servers and employees to meet the increasing healthcare data storage and retrieval demands. Complicating matters further is the fact that patient data increasingly needs to be easily accessible to multiple users in multiple geographically-dispersed organizations for a variety of functions.

Healthcare Data Storage Solutions

With some reluctance, since our industry historically likened patient data to gold and liked to store it in physical proximity of the facilities, more and more health systems are going to the ‘cloud’ for data storage, a trend that is gaining in popularity. For the uninitiated healthcare leader, the thought of having protected patient health data floating around in the cloud is not a pleasant one. The horror stories of data breaches accompanied by the stiff financial penalties imposed by OCR (Office of Civil Rights) for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations does not help matters either. However, the recommendation by IT consultants is to go to the cloud. They then rattle off several healthcare cloud options that seem very confusing.

In the lines below, I will attempt to provide a simple explanation of why the cloud is a viable healthcare data storage solution that will enable one to make smart cloud decisions.

Healthcare Cloud

I am sure that everyone realizes by now that cloud storage has nothing to do with the fluffy stuff one sees in the sky on a cloudy day! When it comes to data storage and retrieval, the ‘cloud’ is merely a concept for remote data storage.

At a high level, there are three types of healthcare clouds: private, public, and hybrid.

Public Cloud: In a public cloud, all hardware, software, and other supporting infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud provider. In a public cloud, your data is stored on the same hardware, storage, and network devices as other organizations or cloud “tenants.” In essence, your data shares space on someone’s server.

Private Cloud: Private cloud refers to a model of cloud computing where IT services are provisioned over private IT infrastructure for the dedicated use of a single organization. It may be further divided into two types, namely ‘on premises’ or ‘virtual’.

  1. Private Cloud On-Premises: This refers to a model where the storage infrastructure remains on site. It may be managed by the organization itself or outsourced to a cloud provider to manage.
  2. Virtual Private Cloud: Virtual Private cloud refers to a model of cloud computing where IT services are provisioned over private IT infrastructure for the dedicated use of a single organization but at a remote location managed by a cloud provider.

Hybrid Cloud: This refers to a mix of two or more of the above models.

We have noticed the hybrid cloud gaining popularity in the healthcare industry with some health systems preferring to store PHI on a private cloud because of HIPAA compliance and host some other applications on the public cloud. For some organizations, it is also a matter of economics. Whatever be the driving force, there are now many cloud options to choose from instead of continuing to pour money into buying more servers and hiring more IT administrators year after year.

CloudSAFE Healthcare Cloud Solutions

Interested in learning more about CloudSAFE’s healthcare cloud data storage and retrieval solutions? Contact me at 844.600.0075 or schedule a no-obligation Healthcare Data Solutions Consultation.

Tags: Cloud Computing, Healthcare Data Storage

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