Feb 27 2019
If you’re a healthcare provider planning to move some of your data storage to the cloud, it’s important to understand the benefits and possible impact of the migration. To help you make the right choice, we’ve shared some of the more common, erroneously-held beliefs about healthcare data storage, and explained the reality behind them.
Some providers are concerned that electronic health records and other medical data stored in the cloud may not meet compliance and regulatory guidelines. With directives like GDPR, and well-established rules like HIPAA, this is a legitimate worry.
The good news is that cloud vendors have all the necessary technology, governance, and process controls in place for cloud-based, healthcare data storage. Of course, you’ll need to ensure that your internal processes, external integrations, and other parts of your data migration and management plan are compliant. But, from a vendor’s technical perspective, you’re covered.
There’s a common perception that data held in the cloud is less secure that information that’s stored locally. This isn’t true — modern cloud environments have all the necessary technology and security protocols in place to protect sensitive medical information. You can even choose to have an isolated private cloud environment for maximum security and peace-of-mind.
Cloud environments can provide high levels of authentication, monitoring, and security tools, together with encrypting healthcare data whether it’s at rest or in transit. Additionally, many healthcare providers choose to backup their data into the cloud, for real time protection and failover in the event of a catastrophic local hardware failure or data breach.
If you’re concerned about data availability, let’s put your mind at rest. Cloud environments are typically more resilient than comparable local data storage. With features like point of presence, resilient systems, and information backups, vendors normally guarantee uptime of at least 99.999%. Additionally, fast connections to the public internet, private wide area networks, and mobile telecommunications mean it’s fast and easy to access healthcare data across any communications technology.
We’ll admit, there is a grain of truth to this myth! Most cloud vendors charge for infrastructure and storage on an “on demand” basis — the more storage and computing power you use, the more you pay. This is offset by not having to buy infrastructure upfront or upgrade and maintain hardware, servers, and other technology yourself.
The issue here is that diagnostic imaging and other data can take up a lot of space, but that applies whether you’re storing information locally or in the cloud. It’s also important to think about your total cost of ownership for storing data locally — cloud-based storage is typically cheaper than the CAPEX and OPEX costs for a local storage solution. These expenses will include infrastructure purchase and upgrades, engineering support, location expenses, utility costs, security equipment, warranties, and other management costs.
You will still want to minimize your cloud storage costs as much as possible — we recommend using storage monitoring and capacity planning tools to identify and remove or archive unnecessary healthcare data to keep your expenses to a minimum.
Your cloud vendor does not own your healthcare or medical information., They simply rent you the space to store that data, but all ownership and management remains with you. Vendors and healthcare providers will have detailed contracts that state all data, applications, and other assets created by your organization remain under your control. You can remove your data from a provider and transfer over to a new vendor based on your organization’s needs.
We hope this has shed some light on the world of healthcare data storage. If you want to know how a cloud-based solution could help you, get in touch and we’ll talk through your options.