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Cloud Storage for Healthcare Providers: Everything you Need to Know

May 5, 2021

Content Specialist at Sync

Sync for healthcare providers

Businesses everywhere are moving to the cloud, healthcare included. In fact, 83% of healthcare providers today are now using cloud-based services to:

  • Keep healthcare data backed up and accessible
  • Enable internal and external file sharing and team collaboration
  • Maximize security and compliance to keep PHI safe
  • Reduce costs at scale

The cloud is an essential service, and with it, your organization will be able to connect and communicate easier, stay organized more efficiently, and offer improved patient care that keeps your community safe and healthy.

As a healthcare practitioner, you’re storing protected health information (PHI), which means that maintaining security and compliance is perhaps the most important consideration when moving to the cloud. You’ll need HIPAA (or regional) compliance, and assurance that your cloud provider has adequate encryption and security controls to keep your patient data safe.

Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be costly or complicated, and moving to the cloud to deliver exceptional service with better outcomes for your patients is well within reach.

Starting from the basics: what is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountable Act (HIPAA) is a US Federal Law designed to protect sensitive patient data from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge or consent. Free cloud services such as Google Drive, Gmail, and SMS typically don’t provide this level of compliance, which can put you at risk. If the cloud services you’re using today are not HIPAA compliant, it’s safer to take your PHI elsewhere.

What is a Business Associates Agreement (BAA)?

The BAA is a written contract that outlines PHI protection, permissions, and requirements that both you and your cloud provider are expected to follow. Your healthcare practice won’t be HIPAA compliant until you’ve got a signed BAA, so be extra careful handling PHI in the cloud, until you’ve got this document in hand.

Understanding data breaches

Failing to meet healthcare compliance can be quite severe and the outcomes can be catastrophic for your business when you take into account the actual damages of lost PHI and the consequences that ensue.

Exposure to a data breach is not always obvious and you may not realize you are at risk until it is too late. For example, in 2015, Anthem, the largest healthcare insurance company in the US, failed to meet HIPAA compliance when cyber attackers spent weeks unobserved in their systems. The attackers ended up exposing nearly 80 million patient records, including client names and email addresses. The breach was settled for $115M.

Beyond the monetary loss, the damage data breaches can do to your organization’s reputation if you’re not HIPAA compliant can have long-lasting ramifications. Regaining client confidence is a difficult, uphill battle. Better to be safe than sorry.

Meeting regional compliance

While HIPAA covers US healthcare providers, if you operate your healthcare practice outside of the US, you’ll need to be aware of more localized guidelines. For Canadian healthcare providers this means both PIPEDA compliance, and localized provincial compliance such as PIPA for British Colombia and PHIPA for Ontario. For European healthcare providers, you should ensure that your cloud storage provider offers GDPR compliance at a bare minimum (and check if more localized compliance is also required).

With compliance in check, here are some of the many ways in which the cloud can help your healthcare practice provide the best possible care:

Your data is always backed up and accessible

Healthcare is an extremely data-heavy field when you consider patient records, documentation, and administrative resources. Where to store put everything? In buckling filing cabinets? On computers or devices that run the risk of loss or damage? Ensuring that your documents and files are always backed up, organized, and easily accessible may seem like a daunting task, but it’s made simple in the cloud. Automated file backups across your entire organization offer a robust, long-term file storage solution that safeguards your data—you’ll never lose a file again.

Even better, with your documents and files safely stored in the cloud, you and your team can access them securely from anywhere, anytime. Whether you’re providing outpatient care, telehealth or simply working from home, having your data always backed up and accessible can be a lifesaver.

Improved productivity and collaboration

Time is of the essence in healthcare, and to move quickly your healthcare practice needs collaboration tools that can keep pace. Using out-of-date technologies like fax machines and paper copies can slow your workflows down to a crawl, delay communications, and leave your patients waiting for results for far too long. However, by leveraging the cloud, you’ll be working in the fast lane. Sharing internally and externally with colleagues, patients, labs, and specialists is much easier, from any computer or device. Cumbersome workflows can be streamlined in the blink of an eye. Your entire team will be on the same page (no more silos), and by reducing wait times, you’ll be delivering healthier outcomes.

Maximum security and compliance

Protecting sensitive patient data from threats doesn’t have to keep you up at night. In fact, moving to the cloud can help you protect your healthcare organization from data breaches, cyber attackers, and unauthorized access to PHI. With strong encryption and access control features built-in, managing who has access to patient records (and monitoring access) is easy. Included HIPAA and regional compliance options can help your organization stay up to date with the latest security regulations and laws. Keep your patients and your organization safer no matter where you operate from.

Increased scalability with lower costs

To accommodate growth, your healthcare organization needs scalable infrastructure and predictable costs, and here’s where the cloud can help. Rather than struggling with complicated on-premise hardware and expensive software, you can leverage the cloud to scale instantly while keeping costs down. Is your team growing? Do you need increased storage space for all of your patient records? Are you adding more computers or devices? The cloud’s pay-as-you-go pricing model ensures that you only pay for what you need today and makes it easy to scale up on-demand for tomorrow. Affordable cloud solutions mean savings that can be reinvested into providing the best possible care for your patients.

Get your healthcare organization in Sync

Moving your healthcare practice to the cloud safely and securely doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, it’s easy with With Sync you’ll get everything your organization needs to connect and communicate easier, share files faster, and stay organized more efficiently. You’ll be well on your way to providing improved patient care that keeps your clients and your community safe and healthy.

Get your healthcare organization in Sync today with HIPAA-compliant cloud storage and file sharing.


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