Cloud computing is taking the medical industry by storm. Many health care providers have relied on older technologies such as mainframe and nineties client server based software solutions well into the 2000’s. Many are now making the decision to make the leap forward in technology and move their data and processing applications to the cloud.
Cloud computing is the natural extension of client server and web based applications of ten years ago. The company that decides to move to a cloud based solution chooses a Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor and ports their data to their servers. The application is then accessed via an application hosted on the SaaS vendor’s web application servers. This means that all of the infrastructure and IT maintenance costs are managed through the SaaS vendor and not the company.
This can be a great solution for mid-sized heath care providers who wish to lower their information technology costs as the costs support the internal hardware and support staff is no longer required – the Saas cloud vendor takes care of all of this as part of their product offering. This is also a great option for small health care providers that wish to grow but do not already have assets in information technology.
As a small health care provider grows, it will eventually have to invest in an information technology infrastructure and the staff to support it. With the cloud based solutions, the SaaS cloud vendor can provide all of this for you within the terms of a monthly service contract.
The cloud is perfectly suited for health care providers who expect quick growth or seasonal spikes, say during the flu season. The interesting aspect of the cloud that sets it apart from older client server technology is that when you purchase a contract with a cloud vendor, your application is hosted in a secured environment within the existing hardware infrastructure of the cloud.
Service contracts are not based on the number of servers or size of processors. Cloud based services are contracted on the number of users or the amount of expected capacity. And this number is not set in stone, but can fluctuate from week to week or month to month and scales with the actual amount of usage you are able to process in a given time frame.
This extremely flexible scalability sets the cloud apart as a new cutting edge technology and not just another marketing ploy. Whether you have a small business that doubles or triples in size of the course of the year, or a medium sized business that sees massive upswings in usage only a couple of times throughout the year, the cloud can seamlessly handle your unique usage loads without buying more servers or having to constantly re-negotiate contract terms.
One of the major risks many health care providers are concerned with when going to the cloud is security. With increased government regulation such as HIPAA, many companies are reticent to move toward the cloud because they fear moving their data out of their company and relying on another company to take care of it constitutes too much of a risk. While this is a legitimate concern, one needs to consider all of the factors involved in securing the patient’s personally identifiable information (PII). While each health care provider is ultimately responsible for its patient’s PII data, whether it is in the cloud or hosted internally, the costs of securing that data in local IT departments is very expensive.
Ensuring that all compliance standards are up to date, hardware and software patches are applied appropriately and whole environments are security stress tested are all the responsibility of the SaaS cloud vendor. Not having to deal with these complexities yourself can help any data security officer sleep better at night.
Author Bio: Jason Phillips is a cloud computing aficionado and online content writer, who regularly contributes to various information technology and
ADS medical practice management software. Among his interests, cloud apps, mobility and all the latest business software solutions.
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