HIPAA-Compliant Cloud: Why Health Care CIOs Are Moving Toward Cloud Computing for EMRs

By Desaray Granzow
AIS Network, Director of Sales

HIPAA-Compliant Cloud
Health care CIOs are moving toward HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting because it provides numerous advantages.

Cloud computing (or shared computing resources) is becoming more and more attractive to the CIOs of health care organizations. Why?

Health care providers need to keep track of digital copies of paperwork for each patient — such as the patient’s history, digital copies of diagnostic tests and the patient’s insurance record. These are called electronic medical records (EMRs); you may also sometimes hear them referred to as electronic health care records (EHRs).

Health care providers that store EMRs on-premise (meaning in the office) continually have to buy more server space to make room for all of the files that they must store. Cloud computing, offered through cloud hosting providers, allows these health care businesses to delegate the task of storing EMRs and other files to a team of cloud hosting experts. For their cloud hosting service, the providers pay only a predictable monthly fee. It then becomes so much more economical than paying thousands of dollars a year to continually purchase, install, patch and maintain servers and storage space themselves. Best of all, the superior uptime and 100% availability offered by the best hosting providers, like AISN, ensures that the network is always up.

For health care CIOs considering cloud computing/ cloud hosting, here are some of the advantages:

  • Cloud hosting helps reduce staffing needs. Hospitals and physician practices that switch to cloud computing no longer need to hire additional staff to manage computerized patient records. The cloud provider takes care of this. This saves health care organizations money; in addition, understaffed service centers will have one less item to worry about.
  • Cloud hosting provides better disaster recovery. If a health care organization loses records in a fire, earthquake or other disaster, it’s easy to retrieve and rebuild records stored in the cloud. Rebuilding from physical copies stored on-premise may not be possible.
  • Cloud storage provides better security. Cloud computing providers located within the United States must be HIPAA compliant if they want to serve the health care industry. That means they must follow HIPAA directives for electronic file storage, so doctors never have to worry about patient information being compromised. In the end, storing EMRs on an external server, rather than in the office, adds a level of security because visitors to the office won’t have ready access to files that belong to somebody else.
  • Cloud computing makes it easier to collaborate. Some medical schools are turning to cloud computing systems to allow students to work together more easily on class assignments. Similarly, hospitals and physician practices can elect to share EMRs with specialists or consultants. Allowing health care providers the opportunity to collaborate with one another more easily serves to improve patient care.

Cloud computing is a viable and effective alternative for meeting health care EMR storage and collaboration needs. Movement toward cloud computing has been slow but steady among health care CIOs. Some CIOs worry about privacy concerns; however, if a cloud hosting provider is located within the United States and has a clear privacy policy written into its Service Level Agreement (SLA), health care organizations can use cloud computing without fear of violating HIPAA regulations.

Bottom line, the upside to cloud computing for health care providers is tremendous. The cost reduction, increased compliance and increased protection of patient privacy all let health care providers focus on their core business – providing the best medical care possible for every patient.

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