The drive to migrate workloads to the cloud has gained momentum in recent years, and shows no sign of slowing down. In 2018, the global healthcare cloud computing market topped $7 billion, and is projected to reach $55 billion by 2025. The benefits of cloud-based storage for healthcare organizations are numerous, offering a suite of capabilities that organizations can hardly refuse. However, despite the fact that cloud computing offers across-the-board advantages, vicious cyberattacks routinely threaten to destroy its utility. The top security issues jeopardizing healthcare organizations include the lack of role-based-access control, inadequate malware prevention, and insufficient encryption. In this brief, we’ll discuss the insidious nature of these cloud security threats, and present effective mitigation strategies.
The rationale behind cloud adoption in healthcare are multifold.
1. The scalability and flexibility of cloud systems holds wide appeal. Scalability and flexibility enable healthcare organizations to easily partner with third-party groups or other healthcare or hospital facilities in order to better serve clients. In addition, as organizational needs expand or shrink, the cloud can accommodate fluctuating demands for service.
2. You only pay for what you need. Amidst continual healthcare spending and budget cuts, capital-intensive investments aren’t in vogue. The pay-for-what-you-need cost structure enables organizations to allocate resources more effectively than ever before.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) improve workforce management strategies. Since patient data requires extensive management, another profound advantage to cloud computing is the ability to use AI and ML to organize records. With cloud services, organizations can pull information from prescriptions, notes, audio and radiology reports, and add information to patient files. This significantly reduces the administrative workload, allowing healthcare organizations to make better use of employees’ time. However, despite the obvious benefits, storing healthcare data in the cloud is also an operational risk.
Powerful Cloud Security
Role-Based-Access Control: Another notable reason that accounts for why cloud computing appeals to hospitals is the convenience of cloud-based Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. When hospital physicians, nurses and technicians can quickly exchange patient information through a connected EHR system, they can provide faster-paced, higher quality patient care. At the same time, these systems are at risk. In a global industry survey, nearly 70% of respondents reported that unauthorized access represented their main cloud security concern.2 Employing a role-based-access-control system can help safeguard the integrity of patient data. Dynamic access leases can provide temporary privileges to those who require them in the short-term, while permissions can also be configured to permit long term access. This avoids the danger of giving widespread admin access to highly sensitive environments. Regional data locks serve as an added safeguard, ensuring that cyber criminals cannot move data beyond certain regional or national borders.
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1 “5 Things Made Possible in Healthcare Thanks to the Cloud,” HealthTech, Andrew Steger, September 12th, 2019.