Despite data security concerns, healthcare is moving to the cloud

Healthcare organizations are right to be concerned about the safety and security of their data, but when it comes to new technologies, staying away can sometimes be more damaging that staying put.

Jeff Rowe | Oct 25, 2017 12:00 am

The average total cost of a data breach in the global healthcare industry is $4 million — a 29% increase in total cost since 2013.

That, notes EPMMagazine (European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer), is according to a 2016 survey by IBM, and while stats like that are the cause of understandably heightened concern over data security, it’s not keeping pharma and other healthcare organizations from turning to the cloud.

While “threats to data have never been more evident,” the article notes, cloud-based systems are increasingly popular because “they simplify deployment processes, they’re popular with IT teams who can use their time more productively elsewhere, they can be up and running pretty quickly and, ultimately, they can cut costs.”

Moreover, one of the main reasons driving healthcare organizations to the cloud is the relative ease with which they can share data with research and other stakeholders.

“The scientific landscape is changing,” the article explains, “and more and more organizations are turning to external collaboration partners — like contract research organizations (CROs), joint ventures and academic partnerships . . . By using a cloud-based system, organizations can provide partners with a neutral environment for collaboration, alongside the ability to restrict the access levels available to third parties, meaning private data remains inaccessible and secure.”

Perhaps the biggest irony, given the scary cost of data breaches, is that organizations are figuring out that, more often than not, data is actually more secure in the cloud.

“Contrary to popular beliefs, an organization’s business information can be far more secure in a cloud solution than in a traditional software on-premise situation. Backed by a large web provider, data stored in the cloud can be protected by the most advanced security measures available, many of which are simply out of reach for organizations working on their own or using in-house or on-premise technology.”

The recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and Florida have also highlighted the importance of disaster recovery, the article notes. “Data is stored in one location, it risks being lost forever. By providing two separate geographical locations, cloud providers can store and identically mirror all data. And should anything happen to one of these locations, operations automatically pass to the secondary data centre, meaning no downtime and, more importantly, no data loss.”