Each year, US-based Henry Ford Health System produces thousands of digital images, of which 25,000 of them are heart images alone. Recently, when its archiving system was running low on storage space, the cardiology department found a viable answer to the problem. Instead of making a whopping$200,000 investment for upgradation, the hospital opted for a far less expensive cloud-based storage solution for better and more secure storage.
Not only did this move resolve the hospital’s storage capacity issues, but also improved its care efficiency levels. Earlier, locating an archived heart image would take up to a day. Now, the new cloud service securely stores images on a remote server and enables immediate access to them via desktops, tablets and smartphones.
An increasing number of healthcare organizations are turning to cloud providers since their aging storage infrastructures, architectures and systems are no longer equipped to manage the unstructured data. According to a research firm, the overall cloud computing market in health care will grow to $5.4 billion by 2017.
Today, healthcare providers need to manage more data than ever before. Due to the ever-expanding accumulation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and medical imaging data, the industry is expecting tremendous growth in data—from 500 petabytes (PBs) in 2013 to 25,000 PBs by 2020. Since the sheer amount of health data continues to grow rapidly, data storage capabilities must increase with it too. While this growth has its advantages, there are also various challenges which healthcare providers must overcome to fully utilize the digitization of medical data.
Predominantly, care providers need to make an effort to have secure networks and services to protect the data being shared remotely. Patient privacy and the security of health records are increasingly becoming a concern for healthcare CIOs. As more healthcare organizations begin to rely on Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) deployments, mobile devices are often found responsible for most data breaches.
If any data gets stolen or exposed, the affected people are at a risk of becoming victims of identity theft or fraud. As a result, the organization in possession of this information could face financial penalties from regulatory bodies. In addition, healthcare organizations that fail to integrate their data efficiently find it difficult to survive in a cut-throat competitive environment.
To surmount these challenges, organizations are increasingly turning to cloud-based platforms, which have proven to serve as highly scalable models that can act as a single destination for all their data needs.
Moreover, hospitals are now under severe pressure to reduce costs, making cloud storage a preferred choice. While traditional storage systems such as Storage Area Network (SAN) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) require up front capital investment, cloud-based storage requires them to pay a modest upfront charge and monthly usage fee.
If cloud providers continue to assure that their services can comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines and provide high-performance solutions, more customers are likely to move their data to the cloud. Do you think cloud storage will emerge as the preferred solution for securing healthcare data?