What Is Holding Healthcare From Existing Completely In The Cloud?

What Is Holding Healthcare From Existing Completely In The Cloud?

What is Holding Healthcare from Existing Completely in the Cloud?

A significant portion of our lives are “moving to the cloud.” Many of us no longer have shelves of movies and musical albums. Spotify and Netflix have nearly eliminated that concept. Checkbooks, photo albums, notes-to-self, and school materials have all floated away into the digital world, allowing us to access them on any device. It truly is remarkable. The result is a less cluttered home and more organized, focused mind (I’m being extremely optimistic). So, what about healthcare?

Healthcare is making its way to the cloud in several different ways – electronic health records, medical billing, mobile and wearable apps, and medical education – to name a few. As money pours into this space, tech companies have been quick to bring new products and business models to life. For example, Practice Fusion has developed a cloud-based EHR for medical practices and is literally giving it away for free. Soon, wearable technology, like Google Glass, will allow physicians to upload data to the cloud on-the-go. Not to mention, the industry has been heavily focusing on achieving interoperability. What better way for specialists and primary doctors to communicate than on a unified server that is accessible from anywhere?

And while the idea of being cloud-based is newly popular, it’s certainly not new. NueMD, for instance, has taken pride in providing cloud-based medical billing software before it was mainstream. Since then, many other medical software companies have also made the leap to the cloud. Instead of requiring the purchase of on-site servers, software that lives in the cloud provides physicians and other practitioners access from any in-accessible device.

It seems so logical that everyone in the medical field would want such an option. Cloud-based software offers lower overhead, convenience, and accessibility. The question arises, then, why isn’t everyone using it? Let’s take a look at a few of the top considerations healthcare professionals have when planning a move to the cloud.

Data Security

For nearly decades, physicians and other medical personnel have complied with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In the “physical world”, documents are filed in locked offices (usually). Charts are kept covered while being carried in an occupied hallway. Elevator conversations about patient information are highly discouraged. Speaking digitally, if a physician has already made the upgrade to electronic records and has a server on-site, the information is protected by unique passwords. That said, the safety of the medical records is limited by the security of the physical room where the data is stored.

While it’s not easy for some healthcare professionals to stomach the idea of “somebody else” housing their sensitive information, the cloud can offer a level of security they’d never be able to achieve on their own. Any credible cloud-based software vendor will store data in a data center equipped with government-level security. At the end of the day, it often saves a significant amount of money (and stress) to let the pros handle it, even if they are “somebody else.

More apparent, look at other industries, like for example, online banking. The same threats to personal data exist, yet people are already very comfortable using the cloud to handle their financial information. Even if data breaches do occur, retail stores, credit card companies, and banks are all vigilant at alerting victims and recovering from the disaster. If they can do it, healthcare organizations can as well. The bottom line is that online security is not an excuse to turn away from the cloud as much as it is motivation to put a heavier focus on protecting cloud-based information.

Internet Connectivity

Page not found.” “Unable to connect.” How many times have you read those words when in the middle of accessing an important website or web application and wanted to hurt your computer screen?Fortunately there is a very simple solution for this. Get a second internet connection. Yes, it will increase overhead just a little, but it will be well worth the peace of mind. Any healthcare organization that uses the internet as a primary utility in its office should absolutely have more than one way to gain access. Adding to that, many vendors have actually developed “off-line” modes that allow users to continue working through outages and automatically re-sync with the cloud when the connection is restored.

Outages and Uptime

Servers go down. And when they do, providers and medical personnel are in for some serious headaches. It’s not easy to go back to “the old-fashioned way” after you’ve adapted your entire workflow to the digital age. Paper records, orders, and prescriptions are resurfaced like a bad dream.

There is, however, a major difference between locally-housed and cloud-based servers experiencing downtime. The cloud infrastructure is designed so that if a server crashes, loses power, etc., another one will take its place instantly – essentially abstracting any service disruption away from the end-user. If the computer in your server room goes stops responding, it’s not going to come back to life until you(pay to) get it fixed.

Dr. Neil NotarobertoHere’s a brief anecdote to illustrate the power of the cloud: Dr. Neil Notaroberto of EyeCare 20/20 runs three offices in Louisiana. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina forced him to evacuate two of his offices. Because he used a cloud-based practice management system, he had no need to worry about protecting his patients’ data. Furthermore, he was the only ophthalmologist serving the New Orleans metro area for weeks after the storm since he was able to get back up and running so quickly. In fact, the positive impression made on the community led to increased business long after Katrina.

While events as disastrous as Katrina aren’t very common, cloud-based solutions offer the same type of protection against fires, leaks, and theft.

Connectivity to the Local Hospital

This might be the trickiest reason that providers have not moved to a cloud-based EHR or billing solution. Many providers who use an electronic system are using an onsite server because they want to be connected to the same system that their local hospital system is using. This seems to be especially present in Kentucky, where only 17% of physicians using EHR are using a cloud-based EHR. The reasoning behind this situation is that providers find it more convenient to have a system that communicates easily with their referring entity, the hospital.

Let’s do this.

Overall, the reasons to keep from moving to a cloud-based option seem to parallel the reasons why people were hesitant to adopt any technology in the past. That said, why not just push forward? There will be bugs and issues that we don’t see coming, but as we’ve experienced, developers and innovators always seem to find a way to correct these unforeseen problems. With such emphasis on mobile healthcare and sharing patient data, the transition is imminent.

By William Rusnak

William Rusnak is a fourth year medical student, financial investor, writer for NueMD, and entrepreneur. He writes about topics such as healthcare technology, biotechnology, and nutrition. He is currently applying to residencies with plans to practice in Primary Care and Sports Medicine.

About CloudTweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading authorities in connected technology information and services.

We embrace and instill thought leadership insights, relevant and timely news related stories, unbiased benchmark reporting as well as offer green/cleantech learning and consultive services around the world.

Our vision is to create awareness and to help find innovative ways to connect our planet in a positive eco-friendly manner.

In the meantime, you may connect with CloudTweaks by following and sharing our resources.

View All Articles

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Comic
When Sci-Fi Predictions Come To Fruition

When Sci-Fi Predictions Come To Fruition

Evolution of Technologies To paraphrase science fiction author Arthur C. Clark, those who make predictions about the future are either “considered conservative now and mocked later, or mocked now and proved right when they are no longer around to enjoy the acclaim.” The one thing we can be sure about, Clark ventured, is that “[the…

Facebook Hopes To Extend Internet Connectivity With Solar-Powered Drones

Facebook Hopes To Extend Internet Connectivity With Solar-Powered Drones

Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Thursday it had completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help it extend internet connectivity to every corner of the planet. Aquila, Facebook’s lightweight, high-altitude aircraft, flew at a few thousand feet for 96 minutes in Yuma, Arizona, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in…

When Will Women In Tech Become The Norm?

When Will Women In Tech Become The Norm?

Tech Diversity It is well known that the technology industry has been dominated by men, but it is also clear that the industry is working to change that. Diversity in the tech industry, especially where it applies to women in tech, has been a topic of discussion for years. Recently the Washington Technology Industry Association…

Four Keys For Telecoms Competing In A Digital World

Four Keys For Telecoms Competing In A Digital World

Competing in a Digital World Telecoms, otherwise largely known as Communications Service Providers (CSPs), have traditionally made the lion’s share of their revenue from providing pipes and infrastructure. Now CSPs face increased competition, not so much from each other, but with digital service providers (DSPs) like Netflix, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, all of whom…

Edtech and Virtual Reality – Exciting Learning Environment

Edtech and Virtual Reality – Exciting Learning Environment

Customizing Edutech Customized edtech learning solutions are becoming more commonplace as the education industry recognises their potential and begins transforming the traditional structures so as to incorporate innovative developments. From textbooks to tablets, chalkboards to virtual reality, edtech promises not only dynamic and exciting learning environments but better learning strategies and solutions. Virtual Reality and…

Get Ready For Virtual Reality and the Cloud

Get Ready For Virtual Reality and the Cloud

Virtual Reality Cloud We’re lucky to live in an era where virtual reality is no longer relegated to the confines of a sci-fi movie universe. Thanks to technology introduced by products like Oculus Rift, consumers now have access to virtual environments with fully immersive graphic capabilities. As a result, companies have only just begun to…

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation Digital transformation is the acceleration of business activities, processes, and operational models to fully embrace the changes and opportunities of digital technologies. The concept is not new; we’ve been talking about it in one way or another for decades: paperless office, BYOD, user experience, consumerization of IT – all of these were stepping…

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

Cancer Moonshot In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around…

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups Traditionally actors headed for Hollywood while techies made a beeline for Silicon Valley. But times are changing, and with technological job opportunities expanding (Infographic), new hotspots are emerging that offer fantastic opportunities for tech jobs and startup companies in the industry. ZipRecruiter, an online recruitment and job…

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences Many people have heard of cloud computing. There is however a tremendous number of people who still cannot differentiate between Public, Private & Hybrid cloud offerings.  Here is an excellent infographic provided by the group at iWeb which goes into greater detail on this subject. Infographic source: iWeb

7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

Cloud Security Missteps Cloud computing remains shrouded in mystery for the average American. The most common sentiment is, “It’s not secure.” Few realize how many cloud applications they access every day: Facebook, Gmail, Uber, Evernote, Venmo, and the list goes on and on… People flock to cloud services for convenient solutions to everyday tasks. They…

4 Different Types of Attacks – Understanding the “Insider Threat”

4 Different Types of Attacks – Understanding the “Insider Threat”

Understanding the “Insider Threat”  The revelations that last month’s Sony hack was likely caused by a disgruntled former employee have put a renewed spotlight on the insider threat. The insider threat first received attention after Edward Snowden began to release all sorts of confidential information regarding national security. While many called him a hero, what…

How Big Data Is Influencing Web Design

How Big Data Is Influencing Web Design

How Big Data Is Influencing Web Design For all you non-techies… You’re probably wondering what big data is (I know I was….a few years back) so let’s get the definitions out of the way so we’re on the same page, okay? Big data is A LOT of data – really, it is. It is a…

The Business of Security: Avoiding Risks

The Business of Security: Avoiding Risks

The Business of Security Security is one of those IT concerns that aren’t problematic until disaster strikes. It might be tomorrow, it could be next week or next year. The fact is that poor security leaves businesses wide open for data loss and theft. News outlets just skim the surface, but hackers cost business up…