How Can You Find A HIPAA Compliant Cloud Provider?
The cloud can play an important role for both providers and patients in healthcare organizations. However, maybe you think it’s still just a fad, and not actually here to stay. With all due respect, you’re wrong – the healthcare cloud computing market is estimated to be worth up to $15.5 billion in five years.
Long story short – the cloud is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean you should just dive in without double-checking how it will affect your organization. After all, you have your HIPAA compliance to think of – how will your compliance be affected once you’ve moved your Protected Health Information (PHI) into the cloud?
With traditional healthcare tech, the healthcare organization is responsible for security. With cloud services, the responsibility is shared between the cloud provider and the healthcare practice.
With the cloud, security systems and tools are integrated with the cloud-based services they provide. They come with controls for access and authentication, firewalls, encryption services, monitoring, and intrusion detection. Plus, cloud providers often offer government-certified services through initiatives like FedRAMP, FISMA, and FIPS.
Cloud-based healthcare IT systems allow for broad interoperability and integration of other systems and applications like EHR/EMR solutions. They offer the ability to share information easily and securely.
As great as that all sounds, don’t rush into the cloud before double-checking a few key points…
4 Points To Consider Before Choosing Your Cloud Provider
- Data Backups
Having your data stored in the cloud can do wonders for your convenience and productivity, but you need to make sure you have a backup, just in case something happens.
If you’re going to let a cloud provider store your data in their cloud, then make sure they’re also backing it up. Make sure that they:
- Back up data on a regular basis (at least daily).
- Inspect your backups to verify that they maintain their integrity.
- Secure your backups and keep them independent from the networks and computers they are backing up.
In layman’s terms, encrypted data is formatted in a secret code that would be meaningless if intercepted. It is one of the most efficient ways to secure a database given that decryption can only occur through a key, which is essentially a “secret password”. In this case, there is a need for updated encryption software to ensure that private information is only accessible through the database program.
Encryption technology is a great way to protect important data. By making data unreadable to anyone who isn’t supposed to have access to it, you can secure files stored on your systems, servers, and mobile devices, as well as files sent via email or through file-sharing services.
When using the cloud, it’s important to make sure that your data is both encrypted while in transit, and at rest.
- Access Monitoring
In addition to encryption, the data you store in the cloud should be protected from unauthorized access:
A firewall is a particular type of solution that maintains the security of your network. It blocks unauthorized users from gaining access to your data. Firewalls are deployed via hardware, software, or a combination of the two.
- Intrusion Detection
Your cloud provider should also keep an eye on unauthorized attempts to access your data. Whether they’re successful or not, attempts at access can tell you more about how cybercriminals are trying to reach your data.
- Contracts & Agreements
There’s always a chance that you’ll find cloud services, or that a cloud provider, in particular, isn’t right for you. Or, the opposite could happen – you’ll be perfectly satisfied with the services and will want to renew them.
That’s why it’s smart to know how the renewal/termination process will work ahead of time:
- Should the cloud services contract terminate, does it require a monthly or annual renewal?
- Will you incur any penalties for ending your service before the expiration date?
- What is considered acceptable, in the contract, for the cloud provider to cancel the agreement on their end?
Furthermore, don’t settle for general statements about performance and availability – you should get actual stats and guarantees about what will be delivered, and how it will meet what you require.
The best way to do so is in the Service Level Agreement – this is the core of your cloud services contract. Make sure that it covers 24 / 7 support, data security, and privacy guarantees, and performance targets.
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