There are several key factors that must be considered when selecting a cloud provider in the healthcare environment. These factors are strictly unique to healthcare due to the environmental differences the industry presents; in most industries, application availability is measured in dollars, but in healthcare, the availability of an application could literally be life saving.
Here are the three key factors you must taken into consideration, above all others, when selecting a cloud platform solution in the healthcare environment.
- Security and HIPAA compliance: The fines for the breach of PHI (Protected Health Information) can be crippling to an organization. This is one reason data security in a healthcare environment is so critical. Whether you are utilizing a cloud provider for all of your IT needs (or just using a small hosted application or email) it’s imperative that your provider understands your security requirements and is compliant with HIPAA standards. Additionally, HIPAA compliancy is not achieved through a one-time audit, but rather a series of regular audits to ensure security principles are up-to-date with the latest regulations.
- Availability: The world of healthcare never sleeps. There are always patients to take care of, calls to answer, and emergencies to address. If you need to access critical patient data, you shouldn’t have to worry about its availability. Most cloud provider’s SLAs (Service Level Agreements) will outline their promised availability, but you should also look into their past availability metrics by getting answers to the following questions:
- Historically, have they delivered in accordance with their SLAs?
- If not, what changes have been made to ensure compliancy?
- Transparency: As a customer, especially a healthcare customer, you must have access to the information necessary to make an informed decision. A cloud provider should be transparent in their operation, providing you with their SLAs and their HIPAA audit reports so that you have a clear and accurate view of the service they provide. Any cloud provider who doesn’t freely offer this information should be avoided. It’s your data, and the risks to you and your organization are extremely high – you must have all of the information necessary to make the right choice.
Your data security is always important, vitally so in the healthcare environment. By staying fully informed you will help to to ensure your patient’s privacy, and the reliability of your cloud provider.