Should Healthcare Organizations Use Cloud Computing?

Using the cloud as repository of ePHI has certain advantages that prompt many healthcare organizations to transition to the cloud. Here are a number of key benefits of cloud computing:

  • Healthcare organizations can increase data center capacity by linking to a public cloud. This is possible without needing to invest in more hardware.
  • The cloud is very scalable enabling any organization to meet the demands of business easily.
  • The cloud is a more secure way of managing ePHI. It does away with the need to use portable devices like laptop computers, zip drives and portable hard drives for storing or transporting ePHI. One of the causes of HIPAA data breaches is loss or theft of portable storage devices.
  • It is easier and faster to share ePHI with patients, researchers and business partners via the cloud.
  • The cloud can accommodate an unlimited amount of data backups. Moreover, it makes data recovery easier especially after a disaster.
  • Any authorized person can access healthcare data securely from anywhere in the world.
  • Cloud computing reduces latency and speeds up access to data.
  • Use of the cloud reduces data center footprints.
  • The cloud allows healthcare organizations to offer telethealth services.

Now that healthcare organizations are fully aware of the benefits of using the cloud, it must be noted that not all cloud service providers are ready to accept the responsibility of managing ePHI or the liability in case of data breaches. Not all CSPs will sign a business associate agreement (BAA) and not all CSPs offer the same level of security and quality of cloud services. HIPAA covered entities need to be careful in choosing the CSP they use to make sure of HIPAA compliance. Here’s a list of Cloud Platforms and Cloud-Based Services that you can potentially use. Assess each one’s features carefully before getting any ePHI uploaded to these CSPs.

  • Cloud Platforms -Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS
  • Cloud-Based Services – Zoom, WebEx, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, G Suite, HelloFax, Dropbox, E-FileCabinet, Box, Amazon CloudFront and Citrix FileShare