While many healthcare organizations have moved at least part of their IT infrastructures into the cloud, there are more than a few concerns remaining around issues like data security and how best to manage cloud resources.
Writing recently at HealthITSecurity, tech writer Bill Kleyman picked out some of the most prominent concerns highlighted in a recent AFCOM State of the Data Center survey and offered his take on how to address them.
First up, not surprisingly, was the security of a company’s data in the cloud. It’s no secret that healthcare data breaches cost more than breaches in other industries, but Kleyman argues “as long as you design your cloud, infrastructure, and connectivity properly, that data can be very safe. . . (D)ata center and cloud leaders are actively working with protect healthcare information and present compliant services for healthcare offerings. If you’re still concerned about your data, talk to a cloud or data center partner that specialized in migrating healthcare workloads, applications, and data into their infrastructure.”
Next up is the TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership, accompanying cloud systems. “It’s true, if you don’t design it properly, cloud can be expensive,” Kleyman admits, but he notes architecture and cloud design has come a long way. “We can granularly identify which data points, workloads, and even users should live in a cloud ecosystem. We can gauge usage, data requirements, and even data locality based on your requirements to create the best possible pricing model. There’s a sense of maturity when it comes to working with data center or cloud partners.”
Given the nature of the cloud venture, network reliability makes Kleyman’s list of top concerns. “I can completely understand how this can be a barrier to cloud entry for a healthcare organization,” he says. “In some cases, applications are supporting standard backend healthcare processes. In other cases, key applications and data sets are required to save lives. So, if your network isn’t reliable, you’ll have some serious limitations in terms of the kind of services you can deliver. And, with more connected healthcare systems and advancements in things like telemedicine, there’s literally no room for an unreliable network, latency, or jitter.”
Reliability of cloud data storage and the desire for good service levels round out Kleyman’s top five. “If you’re thinking of moving into cloud, or even if you already have a healthcare cloud instance, make sure you have a deep understanding around your critical systems,” he says concerning the final point.
In short, says Kleyman, “leading healthcare organizations are those that embrace advanced solutions and work with organizations that can support their healthcare initiatives. Take the time to better understand your own strategies and design a cloud model that fits your needs.”