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FCW : July 15, 2015
on track with her health goals. Patients today also demand more transparency and accessibility to their information and records, and many healthcare organizations are implementing cloud-based patient portals to satisfy those needs. After securely logging in, these portals let patients access their personal health records, send secure text messages to providers, request appointments, request medication refills, pay bills and request medical records. The cloud also facilitates secure information-sharing and collaboration between healthcare organizations, between doctors, and between researchers. Federal agencies that handle health information, such as Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, NIH, FDA and health exchanges, are working to establish a medical community of interest. The cloud is an important enabler for the endeavor. It will not only allow for interagency and intra-agency collaboration, but with the right security controls, public-private healthcare collaboration. Making the right choices While many applications and workloads are excellent candidates for the cloud, others aren’t as well suited, either because they are legacy applications that can’t be moved to the cloud without expensive restructuring, or because the business case doesn’t make sense. For federal health-related information, the decision whether to move an application or workload to the cloud depends on an additional set of factors, including how the data is classified, the characteristics of the application, and how the application is used. For example, in the Defense Department, applications or data sets with high impact levels have different security baselines than those with lower impact levels. The higher impact level might require that the data must be delivered through a private cloud or in some cases, can’t be delivered through the cloud at all. Determining which applications and workloads are good candidates for the cloud requires a working knowledge of technology, security and privacy issues, and the vendor landscape. One of the best ways to ensure that the path for each application and workload makes sense is by undergoing a full assessment. An assessment can help identify, for example, which workloads include PHI data, and then identify whether those workloads can be moved to the cloud based on specific requirements. An assessment also will analyze the IT resources an organization has on premise today whether those resources can support a move to the cloud. Once a decision has been made to move applications or workloads to the cloud, the next step is making sure to choose a qualified, secure cloud provider. A trusted advisor—ideally, the same advisor that performed the assessment—can ensure that any cloud partners under consideration are operationally, technically, physically and procedurally ready to house PHI, are fully HIPAA-compliant, and have passed audits in the past. A trusted advisor also will ensure that expectations about Service Level Agreements, availability and performance are a good match between the cloud provider and the healthcare organization. Making the right decision is important; what might be best for one organization may be the wrong choice for another, based on requirements or expectations. A trusted advisor also can ensure that the organization is paying a fair price for the cloud services. CDW-G provides a full spectrum of services to healthcare organizations, from comprehensive assessments to a best-in-breed HIPAA compliant cloud portfolio. CDW also offers dedicated Cloud Client Executives and resources that can help articulate and provide guidance around cloud and hosted solutions and tailor a cloud solution to meet organizational, technology and financial objectives. For both commercial and government healthcare organizations, ensuring security and privacy of personal health information is clearly a top concern. In many ways, simply moving healthcare information to the cloud can increase security because it is no longer accessible on premise. In addition, qualified cloud services are fully HIPAA-compliant and routinely employ methods such as securing data through encryption and tokenization of data at rest and in transit. The best way to ensure ironclad security in the cloud is by working only with HIPAA- compliant providers and those that have completed an independent audit against the latest Office of Civil Rights HIPAA audit protocol. Commercial healthcare organizations should also look for cloud providers that will execute a Business Associate Agreement, which protects personal health information in accordance with HIPAA guidelines. Federal healthcare organizations also require HIPAA-compliance clouds, but also require that the cloud comply with the DoD Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide, released in January. Security and Privacy in the cloud For more information, please visit: www.cdwg.com/it-solutions/ cloud/overview.aspx
June 30, 2015
July 30, 2015