A Primer on Healthcare Cloud Computing

by Trevor Strome on January 29, 2015

The following article is a brief summary of an article that I wrote for SearchHealthIT.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Because it is still an emerging technology, healthcare organizations (HCOs) are still in the early stages of determining how the cloud fits into the health information management and technology ecosystem. Providers are still calculating how to balance the possible benefits of cloud computing in healthcare with the obvious security, technical and legal risks.

According to a Cloud Computing in Health by Canada Health Infoway, cloud computing models support three ways of provisioning computing resources as services:

  • Software
  • Platforms
  • Infrastructure

The potential of cloud computing in healthcare is to enable providers to better meet changing technology, regulatory, and market demands. But healthcare organizations understand that the use of the cloud is not without risk, and this is perhaps one of the most significant barriers to cloud adoption by healthcare organizations. Some identified risks include:

  • Data breaches
  • Data loss
  • Account hijacking
  • Denial of service
  • Malicious insiders
  • Insufficient due diligence

There are numerous opportunities for significant financial, technological and service-related benefits associated with cloud computing. Yet, as with most emerging technologies, there are risks (both known and unknown) that must be mitigated to realize the potential benefits and, most importantly, to ensure the security and privacy of any data stored in the cloud.

Healthcare executives must balance the risks, benefits, and business and IT needs of the organization to best determine if, how and where cloud computing should be featured in their health IT provisioning strategy.

Please click here to read the entire article on SearchHealthIT.com.

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