Risks of Cloud Technology in Healthcare
The ever increasing reliance of the healthcare industry on cloud technology is a double-edged sword. To name just a few of its benefits, the use of the technology provides superior data collection, better access to that information and more efficient communications between healthcare providers, payors and patients.
Nevertheless, there are still some obstacles that cloud technology must overcome before it can be truly considered “bullet proof.” Here are four risks that should be addressed by your vendor before you sign a contract:
1. Physical and Electronic Security
The use of cloud technology means that the servers that host your site and archive your information are not directly under your control. This fact is significant for two reasons; firstly, you have a strong financial incentive to safeguard the proprietary information of your company and secondly you have a legal responsibility to protect the medical information of your patients.
A reputable cloud hosting company will provide proper physical protection including restricted access to servers and armed guards if necessary as well as sufficient, encryption software, “firewalls” and other electronic protection as needed.
2. Data Ownership and Vendor Lock-In
It is an unfortunate fact that there are few standards when it comes to data storage in the cloud technology world. While vendors are eager to overcome this problem while cultivating a potential client, they are far more reluctant to divulge proprietary information that would ease the migration of data when a contract has expired. Disreputable hosting companies may even charge uxorious rates to provide access to the data in a final grasp at revenue.
It is critical that a healthcare company establish, ahead of time and in writing, who owns the data that is stored on offsite servers and who will pay for the migration of that data at the expiration of the contract.
3. Network Dependence
The name of the game in cloud hosting is availability. It is simply not enough that data be captured and archived in a reliable manner; it must also be accessible when it is needed. Many in-house, healthcare technology departments fall woefully short in this area and everything suffers including the company’s bottom line and, quite literally, the patients.
The use of multiple, redundant servers, backup power sources and excess network bandwidth are the key factors that allow a cloud hosting company to provide reliable data availability. It is imperative to understand the service level agreement (SLA) that governs your vendor’s responsibility when it comes to providing access to your data.
4. Resistance to Change
The growing use of cloud technology in the healthcare industry makes clear that it is the wave of the future. Nevertheless, there will always be those who resist change and refuse to embrace the new. The convenience, reliability and affordability will eventually win over these naysayers but proper orientation and training will significantly aid in the acceptance of cloud technology.
Be sure that adequate resources are devoted to this process and the implementation of your healthcare cloud technology solution will be greatly facilitated.
About Jim Cox
Jim Cox is the CEO of Medkinetics, LLC. and the Co-founder of SEERhealth LLC. Jim is a serial entrepreneur who has been creating software for over 30 years. For the last 12 years, his work has been focused on the healthcare industry through Medkinetics and specifically on developing world class software for credentialing, privileging and performance improvement. Jim is the author of numerous patents and is a graduate of MIT in Aeronautical and Astronautical engineering.