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Blog July 8, 2013

Transitioning Healthcare Data to the Cloud

I recently got to catch up with a friend of mine, Susan, who owns a nursing home. With the up and coming government mandate to move towards an electronic medical record (EMR) system looming in the next few years, the process to make the switch is strenuous and time consuming. As you might assume, running her business keeps Susan extremely busy and moving to an EMR system has been pushed to the bottom of the list. It was beneficial for me to see how the system works from someone on her end of the spectrum.  Although many companies are transitioning their data to the cloud, there are still plenty, like Susan’s nursing home, that have yet to make the switch. Healthcare organizations such as hospitals, doctor clinics, and long-term care facilities like nursing homes have deadlines coming up to transition their patient’s information to EMR. They have a choice of where to store these records, either on servers in-house or outsourcing the data to a managed hosting provider who can store and process the information in the cloud. Keeping the data in-house may sound like the most efficient option, but that is not always the case.

Susan is the owner and administrator at her small, local nursing home and she keeps her data in-house. She uses software for her Medicare and Medicaid billing needs and since her company is small and her patient data records are manually hand-written, she backs almost everything up daily herself with the help of an IT consultant. But what’s going to happen when she makes the switch to EMR? Will that consultant be available in the middle of the night to fix an outage? What if he or she gets sick? Is the data backed up properly? Can the consultant ensure the business is following HIPAA Compliance guidelines? How much does his or her work cost? What was the upfront cost for the hardware? I asked Susan these questions.

Of all the answers given, this one stuck out the most:

“Our servers go down all the time so I’m always working with my IT consultant and monthly maintenance service provider to get them back up and running.”

And when I asked about her future plans to switch to EMR, she said,

“I’ve thought about moving to the cloud, but I worry about the security, the fact that it’s not under my control, the lack of knowledge on my part of how it works and what it can do for me. Information is power, and I don’t know enough about how a cloud works and how it can benefit me so I haven’t taken the steps in that direction.”

Since she wasn’t truly aware of how it all works, I shared with her an alternative option of opting for a managed hosting provider that can store her data in the cloud. With this type of service she can expect  at least a 99.9% server and 100% network uptime guarantees. In addition to that Connectria also offer a 100% secure guarantee. This should help alleviate some of her fears as a healthcare provider when moving her sensitive patient data to the cloud.

A managed hosting provider that is truly HIPAA Compliant will sign a Business Associate’s Agreement (BAA), provide daily off-site backups and conduct other essential tasks to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. Fixed monthly fees would enable her to instantly grow her IT department at a fraction of the cost it would take to buy all the hardware upfront and maintain a HIPAA trained IT staff, or in this case, her consultant.

By outsourcing these responsibilities, she will be able focus on her core business of providing patient care, as opposed to keeping up with changing HIPAA regulations and server outages.

Needless to say, Susan liked the sound of that.

– Zeyna

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