News

3 Things Healthcare Organizations Should Look for in a Cloud Provider

Aug 20, 2019 | Blog

Cloud computing has taken over every facet of our professional and personal lives. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, Content Management Systems (CMS), Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, collaboration tools, storage, social media – we’re at an interesting point in time where business devices no longer require a memory drive, and storage rooms for data centers are shrinking in size.

Heck, smartphones are a million times more powerful than all the computers that sent our first astronauts to the moon. Even a USB stick has more power than those “moon” computers. So, it comes as no surprise that the business world has quickly adapted to cloud computing.

However, one area lags behind.

The Changing Landscape of Healthcare

The healthcare industry has been perhaps among the most hesitant to make the switch to cloud computing, and when looking at the type of data they deal with, it’s not difficult to see why.

Healthcare companies house immense amounts of personal data, and they want to be able to ensure patients that their information is safe. However, the accessibility to personally identifiable information and medical records is what makes the industry a prime target for cybercriminals. According to Statista, in 2018, the U.S. alone saw 1,244 data breaches, with more than 446.5 million records exposed — including patient information.

When looking through the lens of personal data, that 446.5 million figure looks pretty ominous. Jumping into a patient/client’s shoes, how can they trust a cloud provider to keep up with industry compliance?

firstlight-and-healthcare-servicesCloud Computing for Healthcare

While we all want security, we also want 24/7 availability. That’s hard to achieve if healthcare records are buried in aging infrastructure systems. From a healthcare company’s perspective, they want to give us easy access, and they also want to lower infrastructure and administrative costs. There’s often a dilemma on how to achieve this.

Cloud computing is the way to go. It helps cut costs and improves response time and quality of care.

It is now possible to move healthcare information into the cloud, keep it safe, and provide a high level of access. A healthcare provider just needs to know what they’re looking for in a cloud provider.

At FirstLight, we recommend focusing on 3 key areas essential to your choice of cloud provider:

  1. Security

Cloud security is constantly evolving, as there are always new threats. With this constant evolution, cloud security has actually grown more secure than local servers. Response to new threats is now stronger and faster.

Cloud computing continuously adds more and more layers of security and monitoring. It’s often done automatically, so there is no relying on work orders to complete the task. Security layers are also applied at every point — from IoT devices to storage and backup. With modern encryption, data is secure in transit and at rest.

Additionally, cloud services are the first to get the newest patches and security updates, often well before they’re released to the general public.

With the battle between security and present-day viruses and hacks, cloud computing clearly has an advantage over systems that are managed and maintained in-house, especially for large companies and corporations. 

  1. Compliance

With the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), data from healthcare companies is under high scrutiny. The proper physical, network, and data processing security measures have to be in place to cover everyone and anyone who has access to patient information. (Today’s data centers are also increasingly focused on meeting and exceeding compliance standards as a competitive advantage.)

If healthcare companies aren’t in compliance, the federal fines can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation, not even considering the possible lawsuits for exposing patient-sensitive data.

Therefore, the choice of cloud provider for healthcare is an important one. Talk to potential providers about security processes they use to cover every aspect of business, from administration and operations to medical treatment and billing. Ask about their safeguards, including the use of ePHI (electronic protected health information) for transferring and removing electronic media.

  1. Affordability

Cloud computing services can be obtained at a significantly lower cost than traditional internal IT operations, and budgeted as an operating expense vs. a capital expense. By doing routine, mundane tasks like updating patches, these services free up your IT staff to work on projects that generate revenue. They also feature pay-as-you-use rates for everything from applications and software to storage and infrastructure services.

Companies can also scale up or down to accommodate applications and services as needed, so they pay only for what they use. And much like how security patches happen automatically, cloud computing services reduce deployment time when rolling out new applications.

firstlight-for-healthcare-servicesWhy Choose FirstLight for Healthcare Cloud Computing?

At FirstLight, we’ll talk to you about your needs, down to the most minute details. We’ll then work with you to craft a contract and plan that meets all of your security and compliance needs.

You can rest easy knowing that your data is all your own. In accordance with HIPAA and our own best practices, your data is never sold and always protected.

Download our healthcare white paper, “When Milliseconds Matter.” Give a FirstLight expert a call to find out how we can help you protect your customers’ data and reduce internal costs with our cloud computing services.

firstlight-whitepaper-healthcare-why-milliseconds-matter