Remember back in the day when it would take a completely separate room filled with servers and other computer equipment just to run a doctor’s office? Electronic data collection, storage and use was new and the process was bulky, time consuming and filled with breakdowns. Today, we’ve advanced beyond the server room to small, simple servers that can be stacked and combined, but don’t take up much space at all. These servers can even be utilized as a private cloud, which is essential for healthcare practitioners who use tablets around the office.
Moving to the cloud is certainly the wave of the future in the healthcare industry. Not only does it cut down on expensive hardware, software and personnel costs, it’s also much easier to work with and manage. Individuals and companies in the industry have expressed a great desire to convert physical files kept in-house to the cloud.
The system seems to be very beneficial because data can be accessed and shared with other health professionals. Patients who have four or five doctors can relax, knowing that their family doctor can access the medical records from their cardiologist and their pulmonologist. The one big issue that concerns, or even troubles, many healthcare professionals is security. How do you make sure sensitive information does not get into the wrong hands?
Understanding the Different Types of Risk
In order to protect privacy and increase the level of security when operating in the cloud, you need to understand the different areas of the virtual world that are subject to either an intentional or accidental breach of private information. Data integrity is always a concern in the healthcare industry. Patient records must be accurate. All concerned parties, from hospitals and physicians to patients, should share the same information. All sources of medical information need to be gathered. Any discrepancies on two or more different reports should be easily identified and corrected.
Recovering data is also a serious issue. Data out in the cloud can get lost if you do not have a good retrieval system. When data is stored, it should be indexed and be able to be retrieved rapidly and turned into useful reports.
Privacy issues start with how much access the IT staff wants to give to different personnel. While everyone wears the same Cherokee uniforms, different staff members need different levels of access. The chief surgeon may be granted full access to all patient records and the first year nurse may be limited to vital statistics like weight and blood pressure and perhaps a brief medical history.
Buying a System in a Box
It’s becoming even easier to take your place among the cloud. No longer do you have to go to some major cloud computing company with thousands of off-site servers. Technology has made it possible for you to set up and manage your own cloud system in your small or medium office environment. These systems in a box offer all of the security features that you get when you sign up with a major hosting site, but allow you the same flexibility and control over your own data that you had when it was all on one PC. As your business grows and your data storage and management needs grow, you can simply purchase another node and connect it to your existing system.
Privacy and Security Fears will Fade
As you learn more about cloud computing, your fears of security and privacy breaches will be reduced. Privacy issues will always be concerned for digital data stored and used both off and online. Each day, security is getting better as the cloud becomes more important for healthcare and all other professions.