- Posted by Alliance Technologies
Cloud technology has made it possible for businesses in all areas of industry, including healthcare, to migrate staggering amounts of data in a way that is both cost-effective and more secure than traditional storage methods. Nonetheless, cloud computing comes with a learning curve and there are five critical things every medical office manager should know before making the transition.
International data-handling laws are continually changing and growing more restrictive, and medical offices are not exempt. Even data handlers that solely process and store information for the patient’s benefit are subject to these regulatory changes and could face significant fines and other legal action if they fail to comply. HIPAA is no longer the only regulation that affects patient data privacy, so savvy medical providers need to have a holistic understanding of how these rules apply at the individual, practice-wide and regional levels.
Understandably, many medical companies are hesitant to migrate sensitive patient data to the cloud out of fear that a data breach could occur. While the cloud certainly presents unique security considerations that should be addressed before migration, cloud technology offers a far more secure method of storing patient data and other records than traditional file storage. For example, cloud storage allows you to continue to provide excellent care to patients if your office hardware breaks down, and patient records won’t be lost in the event of a power outage or a natural disaster.
In order to maximize cloud security, contact the cloud vendors you are considering and ask what options they have available for medical offices. There are unique concerns when dealing with various types of data, from patient records and lab results to office supply orders. Make sure that your chosen cloud provider has worked with medical offices before and can provide you with a comprehensive list of their security measures, but don’t rely solely on them. No matter how many steps a cloud provider takes toward security, industry regulations still put the burden of security on the offices who are initially processing sensitive records.
Gradual Migration is Key
The key to a successful cloud migration for any business is knowing which aspects of your data to move to the cloud and when. It is best to begin with smaller applications that have less of an impact on the daily function of your practice. This can include anything from administrative apps to processing systems. Moving over everything at once increases the likelihood that something will go wrong in the migration process, and when it does, the culprit is much harder to identify.
Consider using the hybrid cloud model. This model uses both private and public cloud platforms to increase the complexity and the stability of the cloud. This is ideal for businesses dealing in high volumes of sensitive information. You may choose to store certain batches of data with a private cloud service, such as your EHR system, while less sensitive data goes into the public cloud.
The Cloud Can Save You Money
When most office managers think about moving to the cloud, they see high potential costs and hours spent retraining staff on the new technology. While this is true to a degree, the actual savings after a cloud migration could put your office in a much better financial position. Because the bulk of your data will be stored in the cloud, your office can afford to think about hardware differently. This presents the opportunity to scale down to hardware that is sufficient to manage your SaaS applications, but does not need to be powerful enough to manage significant quantities of data.
The cloud can also save you money in the form of a reduced workload for your staff. As busy medical offices make the transition to EMR/EHR systems, they find that patient data transfer allows for seamless communication with other offices. When data transfer is as easy as the click of a button, your staff can spend valuable time treating patients rather than sending physical records requests, spending hours on the phone, and waiting days for records to come back.
The Trend Isn’t Going Anywhere
For medical office managers tempted to wait out the current shift to cloud storage, it is important to know that cloud technology is being adopted at a rapid rate. According to an Imprivata survey, the number of healthcare providers using the cloud increased from 9 to 30 percent between 2012 and 2013 alone. The cloud isn’t going anywhere, and offices that fail to adapt may find themselves behind on industry standards as well as regional regulations.
Cooperative Care is Easier than Ever
The cloud makes it easier to communicate and work cooperatively with other healthcare providers, facilitating fast, secure and efficient data transmission that improves the quality of care and could even save lives. In an emergency, the cloud allows emergency room healthcare providers to access a patient’s entire medical record, as long as that patient has opted to share this information across provider networks. The cloud also presents the opportunity for patients to get proactive in their medical care by scheduling appointments and requesting refills through an online portal, reducing the workload for your office staff.
From increased productivity to enhanced security, it is easy to see why so many healthcare providers are moving to the cloud. By keeping these important facts in mind, you can ensure that your office’s migration to the cloud is successful. If the details seem overwhelming, call on Alliance Technologies—we are experienced in helping many medical offices make an easy transition to the cloud.