Landing on the Right Cloud

Healthcare organizations are finally realizing the power of the cloud.

A study released in August from Research and Markets is attributing growth in the global market for clinical systems to an increased demand for cloud computing for these applications. And another study from Black Book Rankings released in September indicated that 97% of group practice leaders believed cloud computing technology could offer a more seamless, integrated environment for their clinical and business systems.

Now that they are on board with cloud computing, healthcare organizations must navigate the waters of selecting a vendor that can not only offer hosting services, but also understand the nuances of the healthcare industry and the requirements placed on clinical data.

Although there are many vendors in the cloud computing space, healthcare organizations should select one that already has a presence in healthcare.

These companies already have experience in the industry, so they understand some particular nuances, such as a healthcare organization’s need for around-the-clock access to clinical data or federal and state requirements for the privacy and security of that data.

Furthermore, service providers should also understand the life-critical nature of the healthcare provider’s technology. This means that all systems must be up and running all the time. A 100% uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a requirement.

Healthcare organizations also should choose a cloud computing vendor that is financially sound and reputable. Many providers already have had an experience with an ASP vendor going out of business or being acquired by a larger vendor and having to get their clinical data back—and they don’t want to do it again.

Though most cloud computing vendors that serve healthcare organizations will offer the security needed for clinical data, healthcare organizations should choose one that also offers scalability for such services.

For example, some providers that are just diving into cloud computing may choose to only offload their nonclinical applications. While data in these systems may not require as much privacy and security precautions as clinical data, vendors should still offer multiple data storage sites for it, as well as onsite physical security for the sites and a reliable physical infrastructure that has multiple layers of redundancy for power, cooling and connectivity. They also should offer the option of having it be stored in a private, single-tenant or multi-tenant infrastructure. Such scalability will help down the road if the provider chooses to expand the relationship with the cloud computing vendor by offloading other systems that include clinical data—or images.

As healthcare organizations also likely will be using their cloud computing service as a disaster recovery plan, they will need to ensure the vendor they choose not only will manage the systems and data, but also the relationship with the various vendors whose applications they are using via the cloud. This also will enable an organization to purchase new systems and directly implement them through the cloud.

Global Net Access Health offers healthcare organizations secure, scalable cloud computing services that can be used for managed hosting, storage and backup, image exchange, and other services.