Data Explosion: The Rising Threat for Healthcare IT

Guest post by Komal Papneja, IT research and marketing expert, Calance.

It’s time for healthcare organization to conduct a routine checkup on their data management and storage capabilities. Wondering why? To put this into perspective, Kaiser Permanente, nation’s largest health plan based out of California alone manages 26 to 44 petabytes of data from its electronic health records only. And if you are wondering how much is that, it would take around 223,000 DVDs (4.7 GB each) to just hold 1 petabyte of data, according to a Delloitte study. Now couple this issue of data explosion with the HIPAA/HITECH compliance regulations and you see healthcare industry struggling to keep pace with the emerging technologies. Gone are the days when you could manage data with pen and paper…or even in onsite data centers.

Data explosion has become a generic problem with US healthcare organizations, says Gaurav Garg, vice president – healthcare solutions at Calance Corporation. While working with a large US Healthcare provider, team Calance observed that their data was growing at the rate of 50TB per month and also that their onsite data centers will soon run out of capacity. Healthcare organizations in general need a secure, future-proof, and compliant solution that can help eliminate data explosion while remaining cost-effective. This is where hybrid cloud solution comes in.

Why hybrid? Because hybrid cloud model allows for tighter security than traditional public cloud while offering more flexibility than a private cloud. Here is a detailed overview of how a hybrid cloud solution can help healthcare industry overcome the biggest IT challenge which is – data explosion.

Get Storage Space Scaled for You

Critical patient data, confidential communications, and medical records, everything is stored digitally. There is always a need for more storage space. And hybrid cloud gives you that storage space without having to spend IT dollars on in-house data center expansion or to pay for under-utilized capacity. This enables maximum elasticity and efficiency. You only pay for the space you use! But that’s with every cloud model, whether private, public, or hybrid. What makes hybrid more suitable for healthcare industry then? Keep reading as we unfold a few reasons.

Keep Your Critical Data Confidential

The biggest hurdle in moving to public cloud is the privacy and confidentiality of patient records which is why compliance requirements prompt healthcare providers to use private cloud. But healthcare organizations will continue to interact with third parties such as specialists, pharmacies, and patients which means, there is a constant need of public cloud. And unfortunately that comes with threat of security breach. At the same time, having private infrastructure on-premises can be a costlier preposition too, especially when it remains underutilized. Thus, organizations operating under strict guidelines of HIPAA and HITECH need hybrid cloud strategy which ensures data security. It gives the ability to have private infrastructure on-site ensuring confidentiality while retaining the ability to leverage public cloud when needed so that you don’t need to expand onsite infrastructure unnecessarily.

Make Data Available without Risking Security

The biggest key to patient satisfaction and best results in healthcare is the availability of patient data anytime anywhere. This has led to increased use of mobile devices in healthcare which increases risk to security as organizations do not have much control over individual devices. Hybrid cloud technologies facilitate a centralized location for all data in a secure environment. This enables organizations to have a controlled IT environment, the control that they do not have on individual devices. For example, applications installed on mobile devices are used to share medical records and patient data among doctors, lab assistants, patients, and practitioners ensuring real-time diagnosis and treatment. These apps are stored on hybrid cloud structures enabling unlimited storage and easy sharing of data between third parties which is not possible with private cloud. Choose a trusted CSP and you can avoid the security and confidentiality issues as well.

Go Hybrid, Avoid Downtime

Just like every industry, healthcare industry cannot afford downtime. Looking for a secondary site, maintaining and testing existing infrastructure is tedious for IT resources. Hybrid solution comes with disaster recovery functionality, which allows you to outsource the secondary site while the operation of the system can be managed at the same time. This facilitates better recovery time. You do not need to shut down legacy systems and applications while they are operational. Hybrid cloud model allows you to integrate existing infrastructure with outsourced cloud capabilities allowing flexibility.

According to 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey, 80 percent healthcare organizations in US are using cloud in some way or the other. And in near future, only 6 percent of organizations will not adopt cloud. Are you ready to move to hybrid cloud solution or still be one of the 6 percent?

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