Healthcare security: Cloud or on-premises?

Healthcare security: Cloud or on-premises?

Healthcare has some of the most tightly governed restrictions on how information is managed, but it runs the risk of not delivering services effectively and securely if its IT systems are not up to scratch.


One of the first decisions they must make are what mix of cloud-based and on-premises applications to use. Some information, like confidential medical records data, have tight location restrictions. Other data, like anonymous medical trial results, can be stored and processed in the cloud without the risk of personal information loss.


In all cases, the security model around this highly personal data must be thoroughly considered before proceeding. Any breach has the potential to negatively impact patient privacy, not to mention the organisation’s reputation.


On-premises infrastructure

Using on-premises infrastructure and applications is the long-standing way of managing IT in healthcare. Legal restrictions over how information is stored and shared mean that in many cases clinics have not investigated how IT can be modernised. In fact, healthcare has been one of the slowest industries to modernise its many paper-based processes. Written notes and treatment plans are still routinely used by front-line clinicians.


With ‘legacy’ IT a day-to-day reality for most healthcare organisations, CIOs have a good opportunity to use more on-premises options for modernising IT and making it more secure in the process.


Paper documents can be stolen and can be irretrievably lost in the event of a fire. By digitising a paper-based process and having the right data protection plan in place, the security level of a previously paper-dependent practice can be increased significantly.


Another challenge with on-premises systems in healthcare is giving the right staff access to sensitive information where they are working and allowing a network of clinics and specialists to access patient data when applicable. Having tightly controlled data storage is one thing and allowing access to it is another. Data transmission plays a crucial role in any healthcare security strategy.


Cloud-based options

Healthcare might have a more difficult path to the cloud compared to less regulated industries, but CIOs should not overlook any potential to improve processes and innovate by using cloud-based options. Start by profiling apps and data to determine what can be hosted off-premises without getting yourself into trouble with the regulators .Low security data, such as websites, anonymous data processing, and entertainment content, can easily be held off-site and be delivered by SaaS apps.


Ultimately CIOs must decide what applications and data live where, and what mix of cloud-based and on-premises applications they use to achieve this. It may take a little homework but the end results, in terms of efficiency, security and privacy protection will be well worth it.

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