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Should Healthcare Professionals and Healthcare Service Providers Use the Cloud for Storing Patient Data?

Historically, healthcare professionals and healthcare service providers stored their patients records the old fashioned way — on paper in brown folders. With the advent of computer technology, they had the option of storing their patients sensitive medical information in a local computer file as well as the old fashioned way. Today, thanks to cloud computing and data storage services, they can store their patients data in the cloud.

If a healthcare professional chooses to store their patients data in a computer program, the data could be lost if the computer system crashed, stolen or caught fire. If there is no paper backup, the sensitive and critical patient information could be lost forever. This is never an issue if sensitive medical data is stored in the cloud.

Storing patients data in the cloud has many benefits for healthcare professionals; including anytime, anywhere access, scalable storage, compliant, easy and affordable.
For example, cloud storage is flexible, allowing the health professional to scale up or down based on demand for storing patients records. In the past, healthcare professionals and service providers had to constantly acquire additional storage space for their patients records the old fashion way by buying physical folders, hard drives and/or upgrading the computer systems. This is inefficient and time consuming.

Cloud storage services that cater for the healthcare industry must have passed compliance requirements. HIPAA that came into effect in 1996 stipulates that patients’ data can never be lost or compromised under any circumstances. To comply with HIPAA, SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley and more, vendors have come up with innovative ways to secure data and fulfil compliance requirements by encrypting and backing up data to redundant geo-locations.

In addition, cloud computing can save the healthcare professional, healthcare service provider, and the patient some money by reducing the costs of maintaining IT infrastructure and software. It also saves money because capital intensive hardware no longer needs to be purchased, and could result in insurance premium savings, as well.
The portability of having patients records stored in the cloud means that healthcare professionals can review the records of their patients wherever they are at anytime. In addition, having information stored in the cloud, it also gives them piece of mind that valuable and irreplaceable patient information will never be lost.

Cloud computing can save healthcare professionals both time and money and can also help them become more efficient in the delivery of service to their patients. It is important to take your time and evaluate any cloud storage service and perform a due diligence by thoroughly testing the vendors for compliance and security before you sign up for the service.

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