Cloud computing has been widely adopted by businesses throughout multiple industries. That’s not news. What you might not know is that one of the first mentions of the cloud as it’s used these days was by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, at an industry conference in 2006.

In healthcare, cloud technology is used for electronic medical records (EMRs), mobile health (mHealth), patient portals, data storage and much more. The healthcare cloud computing market is projected to reach $64.7 billion by 2025. Approximately 83 percent of healthcare organizations utilize the cloud in one way or another, and 80 percent of them report operation improvements within the first few months of using it.

Why the popularity? Cloud services offer a myriad of benefits, including better resource utilization, lower overhead, improved performance, increased access to on-demand services, tighter security and compliance and enhanced agility and scalability.

Broad Benefits

Through cloud technology, healthcare enterprises of all sizes are able to achieve prevention of downtime and subsequent data loss through disaster recovery and backup capabilities while maintaining compliance with regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Plus, it provides them with cost-efficient scalability to meet their specific needs.

The telecommunications industry also has adopted cloud computing for many of the same benefits, so companies that provide services within healthcare are able to offer secure, cost-efficient solutions that assist their clients in maintaining compliance with various industry rules and regulations. They’re also able to supply a more reliable option for disaster recovery, an area that often is overlooked but can cost a company in both finances and reputation.

Savings Through Scalability

Most healthcare enterprises are challenged with maintaining or reducing costs while providing a high quality of care. That’s not always easy to accomplish in a lackluster economy in which spending for healthcare is extremely high. The United States spends more money on healthcare – $3.6 trillion and 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) – than any other developed nation.

Cloud-based technology and services aid healthcare organizations in cutting costs by reducing or eliminating the need to invest in IT equipment and storage space; reducing downtime and after-hours calls to manage system issues; and reducing time and costs in connection with routine system updates and security patches. Even small enterprises can employ emerging technologies without busting their IT budget.

With cloud computing, companies only pay for resources they utilize and do so at reduced cost. They don’t have to employ a large IT staff to implement or maintain a new system, a cost savings that can be applied to their core business goals.

Proven Data Security

The primary goal of HIPAA is to “assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well-being.” The HIPAA Security Rule requires “appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and security of electronic protected health information.”

Cloud-based technology offers enhanced privacy and security for healthcare providers in a time when cyberattacks are the fastest growing crime in the U.S. Healthcare is the second-most cyber-attacked industry, breaches that risk protected health information (PHI) are especially serious. The average healthcare data breach costs an estimated $6.5 million, about $429 per patient record.

The reliability of cloud technology is another advantage for healthcare enterprises. Almost 95 percent of businesses report significant improvements in online security after moving their data to the cloud.

Streamlined Compliance

Along with HIPAA, healthcare providers must comply with data storage and access regulations for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) Service Organization Control (SOC) certification standards. Investing in cloud services plays an important role in helping them maintain compliance with oft-changing rules and regulations.

Reliable Disaster Recovery

Disasters, whether due to nature, human error or malicious intent, can cause extensive problems for healthcare enterprises not prepared for them. Data, including PHI, can be temporarily inaccessible or even lost. Clinicians not being able to access patient information lack the decision support necessary to choose the most appropriate treatment, especially for disaster victims.

Cloud-based technology supplies healthcare providers with a reliable resource for disaster recovery by reducing downtime, rendering remote access to data and backing up patient records. In addition, it keeps such information secure throughout the process.

For more information on this topic, read our white paper titled “The Benefits of a Cloud-Based, VoIP Telecommunications System for Healthcare Providers.” Or, contact us to learn more.