How Cloud Computing Has and Will Impact Healthcare

Cloud computing has grown quickly in the healthcare industry. In 2012, only 9 percent of healthcare providers reported using the cloud. A year later, that amount jumped to 40 percent. As more organizations adopt cloud computing, it will have a greater impact on healthcare. Here are some influences you may have seen at your doctor’s office. If not, it’s likely that you’ll feel the effects in the near future.

The Cloud Can Offer Better Security

The cloud gets a lot of negative attention from the media because most people don’t know how to keep their information secure. When someone mentions cloud security, it’s almost impossible not to think about stolen celebrity photos and credit card numbers. The healthcare industry, however, is required by federal law to follow strict security protocol that keeps patient records confidential.

The US Department of Health & Human Services also advises healthcare organizations to only use services from companies willing to sign Business Associate contracts. This makes them responsible for protecting patient information whether it’s stored on a private server or in the cloud.

Cloud storage also gives companies the ability to improve security standards quickly. If a hacker were to find a way to access information protected by HIPAA, the cloud provider could update its security software quickly without disrupting patient services. A hospital would have to spend more time and money updating their systems, which could interfere with their ability to serve patients.

The Cloud Makes it Easier to Share Patient Records

Professionals with health informatics degrees from schools like UIC Online know that patients get the best services when doctors can share records quickly. This helps patients in several ways. For instance, a person who needs to refill an important prescription can often access his or her history through information shared in the cloud. That gives patients more control over their treatments and encourages them to follow directions.

Doctors can also share documents with other healthcare professionals. A doctor treating a new patient needs access to that person’s health records to learn about allergies, past illnesses, and family history. Before healthcare organizations started storing records in the cloud, they often had to transfer physical copies. That takes too much time for a patient struggling to overcome an illness. The cloud delivers those records as soon as the new doctor receives authorization.

The Cloud is Cheaper Than Private Server Space

Private server space can cost up to 10 percent more than storage space in the cloud. Lowering data storage costs by even a few percentage points could help the healthcare industry save money and prevent rising costs that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls unsustainable. When patients can’t afford to pay for regular checkups and emergency services, those costs get passed on to other people.

Lowering data storage costs won’t solve this problem, but it will certainly help. By making the industry more efficient, the cloud could even have invisible effects that lower the cost of American healthcare.

Cloud computing is becoming an important part of the healthcare industry. What aspects of the cloud do you think will prove the most helpful?