Health Care in the Cloud: Eight Requirements for Successful Deployment
Compliance and Security
With data breaches an ongoing concern for IT managers, hospitals need to ensure compliance with HIPAA, Ayad noted. The first thing health care providers should consider when seeking a cloud platform is whether the cloud provider will sign a business associate agreement, said Ayad. Cloud platforms such as Office 365 and Windows Azure enable providers to comply with HIPAA business associate agreements, he said.
Although concerns about data security and privacy have slowed the move of some health care organizations to the cloud, the transition is a key step for health care providers to connect to electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs). The cloud computing market in health care will reach $5.4 billion by 2017, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. In addition to EHRs, health care providers use the cloud to access radiology images, genomic data and business intelligence applications from hosted servers. Cloud computing can also help doctors conform to privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Despite privacy concerns, health care organizations can look to the cloud as a way to keep patient data secure, according to Dr. Mohamed Ayad, industry technical solution specialist for U.S. Health & Life Sciences at Microsoft. "Health care organizations must look at the cloud as way to improve their security and compliance," Ayad told eWEEK. "The cloud can serve as a trusted hub for that medical information." Ayad shared some thoughts on features health care organizations should consider when seeking a cloud platform.