Cloud Computing: Data Protection in Healthcare Industry

Whenever news about data breach or failure of cloud system is on the media, it seems as if cloud is not a reliable source of data protection. In fact, all clouds are not created equal; they come with different purposes. There are certain clouds which are developed to cover sensitive information. Companies cannot avoid the cloud. Keep in mind that each cloud is designed for specific purpose; so it is in your interest to find the right cloud solution for the right function.


HIPAA Compliance

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is basically a chain of codes that controls the design, transmission and right to use electronic protected health information (ePHI). In other words, HIPAA protects sensitive health information of patients. Health care providers require a secure system for HIPAA compliance.  To fulfil such demands, cloud is one of the best and quickest ways.


If you are IT provider, you must know two significant factors before serving healthcare industry’s clients:


1/ Protection and Right of Access

It is true replicating of data and transferring to the cloud is quite an easy job. What matters a lot is the level of security. What is the kind of safety provided to customers to protect offsite data? Keep in mind that entities which are covered require access to facilities and information systems. Make certain that data is encrypted all the time, in flight and at rest. Remember that all service providers do not provide such encryption feature. If it is your objective to secure ePHI, choose the right cloud service provider. Healthcare industry needs to select service providers that have capability to encrypt data whether it is in transit, onsite or at data centre location. Physical access to the system is another notable factor to consider. Selected data centre should provide digital and physical safeguards to avoid unauthorized access.


2/ System for Backup and Disaster Recovery

It is confirmed through CFR 164.308 that disaster recovery as well as backup plans are basic requirements of Covered Entities. Cloud gives long lasting benefit to companies as offsite backup is easy to recover if onsite backup data can not be recovered. Many clouds are developed to make recovery process fast and easy which is important for HIPAA compliance. Covered Entities are required to work in emergency conditions and have data backup for immediate recovery. Clouds which are developed to handle all these issues are ideal for IT providers.


No doubt, the cloud is dependable way to handle some aspects of HIPAA; however, it does not cover all aspects. For some IT providers, HIPAA is nothing more than a mess. However, the fact is, HIPAA is based on rules to provide highest level of security standards.


Any system working through private or public cloud can suffer a disaster at any time. Cloud service providers must use a meticulous approach for data protection by making use of technologies, such as malware protection tools, and encryption systems. The healthcare industry must have local disaster recovery and offsite data recovery plans for HIPAA compliance.


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