For a long time, it seemed that cloud technology and healthcare were ill-suited for one another because of the demands of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The ability to secure data as it traveled to and from the cloud seemed too tall a task. But, ironically, as the complexities of HIPAA increased, cloud solutions have seemed to become more necessary.
Consider this: when HIPAA was signed into law over 20 years ago, it contained only 337 words. In 2002, the verbose document grew to over 100,000 words, and it is currently up to more than 500 pages – creating widespread confusion and complexity for managing patient information. Later, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HI-TECH) Act came along in an effort to put teeth to HIPAA. This act requires healthcare organizations to self-report a breach and comes with up to a $1.5 million fine.
As compliance complexity grows, organizations need cloud technology and healthcare to work together to make meeting regulation requirements more feasible. Here are a few ways that cloud solutions aid healthcare organizations:
Improved communication between doctors and patients: In a cloud solution, patients and their physicians can access the same records and communicate with an informed perspective. Access to records also eliminates the likelihood of duplicate entries, and both patients and doctors can share records with other providers while adhering to HIPAA regulations.
Enhanced collaboration: When healthcare providers need to coordinate patient care, cloud solutions make it possible to do so, regardless of geographical considerations. Providers can compare data and make predictions based on access to records.
Scalability: Data storage needs are growing in every industry, but healthcare has a unique need for a scalable solution. Physicians must keep records for at least 10 years after a patient’s last visit and up to the age of 19 for minors. Cloud-based infrastructure grows as the practice requires more storage capacity.
Better data recovery: Healthcare organizations may be targeted by ransomware, which demands money in exchange for the return of stolen data. Cloud computing combined with Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) allows recovery time to be at or near zero.
Better security overall: Security is often a concern mentioned when it comes to cloud technology and healthcare, but when you consider that paper records can be lost with no trace, cloud solutions seem much more secure. Cloud solutions employ tools like end-to-end data encryption, multi-level authentication and monitoring of user activity to prevent and identify, then isolate, a potential threat.
It’s important to note that according to HIPAA regulations, a business cloud services provider is considered a business associate and must meet compliance requirements. Even so, be sure you have a clear understanding of how your cloud provider’s security policies line up with your own.
To learn more about how cloud technology and healthcare team up for better management of HIPAA regulations, contact us at Effortless.