Is Cloud Computing safe enough to be used by the Medical Industry?
Hackers give no mercy to cheating spouses on Ashley Madison, or to shoppers’ credit card information on sites like Target, but they probably give your doctor’s office a break, right? Think again! If your Doctor isn’t careful these days your medical info could be stolen as well. Imagine all the info your doctor has on you; your social security number, your date of birth, your credit card information, everything bit of your personal information. With the said, you deserve to know that your data is safe.
Medical systems vary across offices, but one thing’s for sure, doctors are keeping their heads in the digital cloud. According to Dell Global Technology Adoption Index, 96 percent of healthcare organizations are using or considering using the cloud. And while doctors are using the cloud more, rather than asking if they should switch to it, they can put more attention on understanding it completely.
“It’s not the infrastructure getting hacked, it’s the people. In other words, most of these breaches are caused by human error or illegal activities. If there would be better training and stronger safeguards, there would be a lot less of these breaches.”
Now’s the time to shape up, because the 2015 Data Breach Industry Forecast predicts a higher risk of data breaches than ever recorded in history, and the healthcare industry requires the most worry.
Three NYC medical facilities are hacker ready with their cloud-based systems, and they owe it to understanding the advantages of the cloud, as well how to troubleshoot the setbacks of the cloud:
These medical offices, along with IT Expert Aaron Ross, give their input on the pros and cons of cloud computing in the medical industry:
- The cloud is remotely accessible.
According to Dr. Sean Lager of Gotham City Orthopedics, the cloud is now a big factor and a BIG help in his facility.
Dr. Lager says,
“The cloud is ideal for 24/7 facilities such as Gotham City Orthopedics. We are constantly needing to access patients’ charts, and to be able to do this at any place and time is a huge benefit.”
- The cloud serves as a backup.
Dr. Lager also loves that, “The cloud unendingly updates and saves information. If the Internet breaks down or if computer glitches occur, the cloud always has your back.”
- The cloud keeps medical facilities up-to-par with the technology-heavy field.
Because of technology, medical feats such as same-day x-rays and digital therapy games are available to patients. The cloud, being the most advanced and available computing system, best follows the path of furthering and supporting technology in the medical field.
According to IT Security Expert Aaron Ross, “medical organizations are starting to switch prescriptions, medical records, even drug check interactions to the cloud, and medical offices of all kinds will be behind if they don’t switch as well.” Ross’ company www.itisprepared.com has been helping all types of small and medium medical companies in the USA.
Along with utilizing the cloud, Physical Therapist Karena Wu of ActiveCare Physical Therapy says, “I stay up-to-date with technology by keeping ActiveCare’s internal network HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant.”
- The cloud makes sharing medical images and documents simple.
Ross says, “Doctors and medical leaders, if desired, can share folders with patients that allow for instant visuals of images and documents for each patient. This means less trips to the doctor’s office.”
- Internet access is needed at all times.
Medical offices using the cloud agree – needing Internet access is the biggest con of using the cloud. While information will be saved in an Internet downfall with the cloud, absolutely no information can be used until the internet is up and running again.
Physical Therapist Karena Wu likes to have a back-up plan in these kinds of situations. Wu says:
“I always have new patients fill out their information on paper, and we have consolidated, tangible documents of each of their visits as well. That way, if the Internet goes down, we can still access patient information and continue to work efficiently. We consider ourselves ‘paper light,’ but not ‘paperless’.”
- More computer savviness needed.
While staying educated on the cloud is important to Dr. Chattoo of Hudson River Gastroenterology, he still expresses that it’s not an easy task.
“There’s a lot more computer savviness that you have to be familiar with. There’s so many levels of technology with the system that you can feel bogged down sometimes. It’s exploring the system further every day that keeps me at ease with being breached,” Dr. Chattoo said.
- Insurance companies and policies limit technological advancements.
According to Dr. Chattoo, technology is stunted because of the politics and cross containment in the medical industry.
“Even cloud computing programs can improve, but we’re handcuffed by insurance companies and policies, so if we had more of an open handbook, our technology would be much more advanced,” he explained.
- Tech support can become a nightmare if cloud computing companies outsource their help desk.
IT Security Expert Aaron Ross said that many cloud computing companies outsource their help desk, causing longer waits for companies in quick need. His cloud computing company, Ross Backup, uses a company-specific help desk for more efficient and effective customer service.
- Medical information is desirable to hackers, no matter what.
According to Aaron Ross, medical identify theft can be worse than plain identity theft. There are many reasons that hackers target medical information. Ross explains two of the common reasons:
- They can actually use your medical information to receive illegal drugs or medical care – and it won’t necessarily put up a red flag until it’s too late.
- They can find conditions that few people know about, and call relatives saying “I’m from the hospital and your relative was diagnosed with…” The relatives will gladly help out since they know that the information is private.
Ross’ final thoughts:
Let’s be careful with all of our private information. If you receive a letter from your health insurance that sounds suspect – don’t be afraid to call and verify that everything is OK. Check your credit frequently, and stay alert.
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