Considerations For Healthcare in the Cloud

Healthcare organizations are in the midst of a massive transition, updating decades-old systems to fall into line with compliance and reconsidering the way they manage, store, and exchange data. This mass migration often includes moving infrastructure to the cloud and redoing EHR systems.

Cloud computing is sometimes looked on with suspicion by healthcare professionals, especially after several very public breaches in recent months. However, new HIPAA rules governing cloud services and patient privacy have made it easier for organizations to transition with confidence.

Even with this improved definition and numerous available cloud services, there are pitfalls that may be faced in the transition period, especially as companies learn and grow. I’ve listed some of the considerations that any organization should keep in mind when migrating and looking to gain more agility through the cloud.

Know Your Service

Before committing to migration to AWS, Azure, or another cloud platform, know what these IaaS providers will be giving your organization. Establishing a good service agreement requires an intimate knowledge of your organization’s needs. Consider which applications and functions are the most essential to your cloud services and build out your priorities from there. Finally, keep in mind that your needs may change over time. A periodic update of what matters from your cloud services will keep your business poised to get the most out of the service you are paying for.

Know Your Security

One of the biggest sticking points when transitioning to the cloud in a healthcare environment is security of personal data. It is easy to design a cloud infrastructure that fulfills your needs while also being very secure, but this does take some level of planning beforehand. These cloud providers may very well have specialized compliance plans in place for healthcare organizations, so ask about both your options and how they have served similar groups in the past. They may even have experts able to walk you through the migration process in as safe and expedient of a manner as possible.

Know Your Price

Total cost of ownership (TCO) can be surprisingly high for some subscription-based services, and knowing the financial burden of migrating to the cloud is as valuable as knowing security risks and the like. Design is huge here, and as with my first point, any organization looking to adopt a cloud infrastructure will need to be carefully audited to ensure that there are no excess costs. Scalability is also important, and a good cloud design allows for an organization to add more or dial back as needed.

Know Your Performance

Your network is defined not only by how data is stored, but by how quickly it can be moved and retrieved. Slow networks can be frustrating at best, and in a healthcare environment, can even risk lives. Consider both application structure and the location of the data when designing a cloud environment to maximize performance. Ensure that key applications and workloads receive priority. Fortunately, good architecture is easy to implement into the overall structure of the cloud.