The key to the use of cloud in healthcare
In a single word: security.
By now there is no doubt about the advantages of the cloud: easy collaboration, scalability, ubiquity, sync, cost savings (21% on average, according to AFCOM 2011, 40% according to our own customers), rapid deployment, etc.
There is also no doubt about the need for a move to the cloud in healthcare: according to Enterprise Strategy Group, by 2015 an average of 665TB of data will be generated per hospital per year. And the number one reason for that data size is PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) medical imaging systems. Furthermore, as digital pathology and genetic (-omics) data, which are only now becoming common place, start to grow, that number could easily be multiplied by two or three. We already have customers that generate over a PETABYTE (1,000 terabytes, or a quadrillion bytes) of data per year.
Our solutions help store and manage all that data. But with over 425,000 telehealth providers in the USA alone (according to BCC research), that data increasingly needs to be shared. Yet not all hospitals have the capability or resources to do it. So the cloud is the perfect solution.
With constantly falling telecommunications prices and increasing bandwidth, study after study and poll after poll show that the number one factor restricting the adoption of the cloud in healthcare is “security”.
HIPPA requirements and the very sensitive and confidential nature of healthcare data are the first reasons that come to mind. But recent news about the National Security Agency spying on citizens without court orders, even through backdoors on privative operating systems with consent and even help of software and telecoms companies, have escalated the fear for data security breaches even more.
How should the concerns about data security be addressed? Again, one single word: transparency.
The cloud is no more or less secure than your cell phone, your computer, your operating system or your applications. The more we seek ease of use, speed, and convenience, the more we go up the abstraction layers, separating ourselves from the deep knowledge of the inner workings of the tools we use everyday.
If we want complete control and security, we have to have knowledge of the building blocks (operating system kernel, electronics, etc). But who has time for that?
The only solution to overcome fear is trust. And the only way to trust with security is through knowledge. But knowledge is only possible when there is transparency.
So request your cloud providers to be transparent about their systems, policies, protocols, formats, etc. Also make sure updated free-open source software is used end to end. And add as many additional layers as possible while maintaining manageability (encryption, auditing, logging, etc).