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Cloud for Disaster Recovery

Cloud technology is a comprehensive computing solution offered through internet. It holds vast potential both in business and healthcare management.

Contributions by Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Apple are significant in cloud computing. Today healthcare organizations realize that it can bring down capital equipment costs and assist in implementing applications more rapidly using cloud technology. M-health, Accountable Care Organizations, Health insurance exchanges, Medical transcription services and CDS support can all depend on security associated with cloud computing. Some of the benefits include scalability, quick deployment and cost-savings. 

Compelling Factors

Motivated by HITECH program for meaningful use of Electronic medical records (EMR) systems and IT services, the healthcare industry has already started switching from paper based records to electronic data storage options. This shift is intended for increased protection of health information through technology. But electronic medical records too are vulnerable to theft and data loss. According to the data put forward by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the number of breaches that take place due to theft is much higher than breaches that can be attributed to cloud security. The most recent incident is the violation of privacy laws by the University of California at Los Angeles Health System which ended up leaking the medical information of a celebrity to the media. Therefore more and more healthcare organizations are turning to server virtualization and SaaS models to increase protection of personal health information (PHI) thereby fulfilling HIPAA compliance. 

Fast Recovery, Affordable Solutions

The most significant advantage of cloud computing is the manner in which it is able to handle disaster recovery. With cloud, data recovery is quick and smooth. It can copy the entire server, software applications and data safely and accurately. It delivers faster recovery times and cost effective solutions compared to conventional disaster recovery programs.  During a disaster, applications and servers that are deemed less critical can be put on minimum resources by assuring that the most critical applications get maximum resources for running the business. 

According to Patrick Howard a renowned Consultant in Healthcare, “a major key to disaster recovery is redundancy. Another task is developing a “hot, warm, or cold site” and depending on needs, location and the budget, these sites play a crucial role in a disaster recovery plan. A notification list containing the list of people to contact and their role in the disaster recovery plan is also an essential part of managing the recovery plan” 

A Powerful Tool

Access to information and archives are critical for Healthcare industry employees. Compliance and safety in “cloud” can be ensured if there are proper technical and process security measures in place supported by evidence of compliance audits or independent reviews. A good disaster recovery plan is vital for delivering needed services and saving lives by large. However, this growing dependence on the “cloud” exposes organizations to additional vulnerabilities. Although Virtual servers are prone to attacks, continuing research is the only way out to parry these threats; thus taking it to higher security levels. With the upcoming HIPAA Audits becoming a reality, no health care organization can afford to ignore this powerful tool.

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