Cloud Storage in the Healthcare Industry: Leveraging and Securing Data

by | Feb 19, 2021 | Blog, Cloud

The healthcare industry creates and manages vast amounts of sensitive data that’s vital to excellent patient care and good health outcomes. In an already complex and data-intensive environment, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges for healthcare organizations as they need to rapidly ramp up to support more patients, adhere to new reporting and regulatory processes and enable more devices for an increasingly dispersed workforce.

In an effort to increase operational flexibility, enable the ability to pivot to keep pace with industry changes and scale to accommodate growth, doctors, clinics, hospitals, specialists and other providers are moving technology and data storage into the cloud.

What are the Benefits of Storing Healthcare data in the Cloud?

How can healthcare organizations take advantage of cloud to accelerate innovation and maintain business continuity? With data fabric that leverages total data mobility – and access for any workload in any environment – and the benefits that come from:

1. Easy Access to Electronic Medical Records

Fast and easy access to important medical information is vital to diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care. Uploading health records, patient history, test results, images and other diagnostic findings into the cloud means that members of the care team can always act on the latest information.

2. Role-Based, Gated Availability of Sensitive Health Information

Cloud computing makes it easier to provide authorized access to privileged information. For example, specific parts of a patient’s financial data, like their billing history, may not be available to frontline care providers. Likewise, details of medical conditions and treatment can be blocked from back-office staff who don’t need those details to do their work.

3. Integration with Multiple Applications, Systems and Third Parties

Cloud-based medical data is available to any person or application that has a verified need to view and act on the information. This makes it easier for upstream and downstream software, systems and third parties to review and make changes to electronic health records or medical details. For example, a pharmacist could look at a patient’s prescriptions to make sure there are no unplanned drug interactions. Alternatively, a family doctor could easily transfer their patient’s medical history to a specialist for a more informed diagnosis and treatment plan.

4. Easier Collaboration and Handover Between Healthcare Teams and Providers

Medical error is still one of the biggest threats to good patient care. Data stored in the cloud updates in real time, meaning that physicians and others always have the latest information to understand and collaborate on treatment options. Likewise, if there’s a handover between healthcare teams during a shift change, or a patient is moved to a new provider, everyone has access to the most recent patient history for better continuity of care.

5. Cloud-Based AI and Analysis for Identifying Trends and Improvements

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will help to optimize diagnosis across the healthcare industry. Aggregated and anonymized patient data can be used for forecasting, disease modelling and optimizing treatment outcomes. Deep analytics could identify trends for further research, new drug development or alternative diagnostic methods.

6. Continual Backup of Important Healthcare Information

Cloud services provide realtime backup of healthcare data. In the event of hardware failure, power loss or data breaches, healthcare providers can quickly and easily restore data for minimal disruption or interruption to patient care. There are many types of backup available, including snapshots of data, iterative backups or live backups for immediate failover.

7. Greater Control of Capital and Operational Expenditure through On-Demand Healthcare Storage

One of the main benefits of the cloud is a lack of upfront costs to buy physical servers and other infrastructure. Instead, most vendors allow organizations to only pay for the resources they actually use. This lets healthcare providers pay as they go, based on the data they’re storing in the cloud. This can be very useful for operational cost control and keeping expenses to a minimum.

The move to cloud-based, healthcare data storage makes sense for many organizations. A combination of proper authorization and validation, combined with fast access to electronic health records, means the right patient information is available to the right providers, at the right time. Likewise, healthcare data integrations make it easier for labs to update test results, and for integrated systems to aid with diagnosis and treatment. From an industry perspective, bigger data sets, combined with greater computing power, helps with research and healthcare development. Individual organizations will enjoy better cost control and the reassurance of data backups.

By putting data to work improving patient outcomes, streamlining and speeding access to critical clinical data and running any application on-premises or in the cloud, NetApp unleashes the power of cloud in healthcare. NetApp solutions deliver the performance, reliability, efficiency and protection that today’s demanding healthcare environment requires.

Red8 and NetApp work together to power digital transformation in healthcare. For AltaMed, a leading healthcare system providing care to more than 300,000 Southern California residents, Red8 and NetApp enabled the move from a fragmented infrastructure to one that is unified, simplified and better positioned for growth. From virtualizing servers to protecting data, Red8 has collaborated with NetApp to streamline AltaMed’s data management and storage infrastructure with a solution that can scale as the business scales. Today, with the ability to manage a single unified environment, IT staff once dedicated to managing the day-to-day infrastructure is, instead, contributing to high value, strategic initiatives to position the business for future growth.