Cloud storage offers lots of cost-effective ways to store, share and archive your organization’s most important medical records. Although it’s an easy way to get the flexibility and scalability you need, many are wondering if the Cloud is safe enough for the healthcare industry.

With privacy and security concerns at an all-time high, there’s every reason to want to get all the facts before moving forward, especially if you have to meet HIPAA compliance rules. Before you decide on a cloud provider, consider this. Your organization can save time and money by working with a good cloud provider. Your staff can get more done in less time each day, and that’s a win for everyone.

To help you get started, we’ve outlined 5 important points to think about before taking the plunge into the Cloud.

  1. Data Backups – Data backups are essential. They must be performed at least daily, and they must be tested to ensure they’ll work if needed. Make sure your cloud provider offers the level of redundancy that your practice needs. Even the well-known cloud providers have had issues in the past, so it might be helpful to consider an on-site storage option for additional protection.
  2. Encryption –Your HIPAA Compliance responsibilities make this a “must have” not a “nice to have” action when storing data in the Cloud. Even if cyber thieves steal your data, they won’t be able to decipher it without the encryption keys. This adds a strong layer of data protection and reduces the likelihood that your organization will be a victim of cybercrime.
  3. Access Monitoring – All cloud providers have stepped up their game with access monitoring and other tools to keep the bad guys out of your network. It’s important to have intrusion detection systems, along with robust firewalls. Your cloud provider should send regular reports that show that your system is working properly and indicate any problems that may have arisen and how they were handled.
  4. Contracts & Agreements – Service level agreements are now required by most cloud providers. These outline what your service provider will do, as well as what their responsibilities are when it comes to service disruptions. You need clear wording in your SLA that describes how they will handle confidential records as well. Make sure you understand exactly what your cloud provider is responsible for.
  5. Security Audits – Before you entrust your data to any cloud provider, make sure that they are willing to provide a copy of their latest facility security audit that confirms their data storage center is secure according to established industry security standards.

One final note: Avoid working with service providers who are unclear about exactly what services they provide and the cost for this. Any reputable managed IT services company should be able to answer all your questions to your satisfaction. This can prevent you from getting involved with a company that may not offer the high level of services that healthcare organizations require.

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