As far as technological advances go the idea of the cloud is perhaps one of the most widely misunderstood. It becomes the subject of even more misconception when placed in a medical context where HIPAA guidelines and other confidentiality laws are ever prevalent. Not to mention the increasing concern of keeping patient data secure, which is even more scrutinized. With this blog post, we hope to debunk some of the more common misconceptions about the cloud, especially as it pertains to its use in the healthcare industry. For a trained perspective, we conducted an interview with subject matter experts Dean Hiner, Sr. Account Director of Involta and Chris Massey, Director of Marketing, also of Involta.
“The cloud-based EHR environment is not secure.”
This is FALSE. I know we’ve all heard the stories on the evening news, the ones where someone experienced a series financial loss due to their personal cloud storage being hacked, and all of their photos, videos, and private banking information stolen. However, according to our subject matter experts, this is not the majority of cases. In fact, information stored in the cloud is generally more secure than data sitting on your computer’s hard drive, in a stack of papers on your desk, or in a file cabinet – all of which leave you vulnerable to someone either picking it up as they walk by, or snapping a picture of it for reference later.
This is a direct result of the myriad of security measures that are employed by cloud-based storage software. The truth is that cloud-based storage solutions employ numerous security measures to guard against exactly this type of vulnerability.
Most cloud-based storage solutions – especially within the medical field – is protected and encrypted on a number of levels. Many practices that use cloud-based EHR systems choose to segment different portions of the storage. This is most common with patient portals, for example, and works such that each patient is only able to access the portion (or segment) of the cloud that contains their information. They cannot access or otherwise tamper with data pertaining to other patients.
“If the Internet goes down, I won’t be able to access EHR data stored in the cloud.”
This is PARTLY TRUE according to our experts. You do need some form of internet connection to access cloud-based storage. However, the stored data will not be located directly on the servers belonging to your specific internet service provider. So, in the event your internet connection is compromised, you can still access the data stored in your cloud using a different internet connection.
“If the Internet is down, and I can’t access EHR date in the cloud, I’ll have to stop seeing patients for the day.”
This is FALSE, but for optimal use of cloud-based EHR systems, you should have a backup internet connection in place. Our experts recommend that, as with anything technological, you have a backup source for the internet as well. It’s suggested that this be two separate routers, both with highly reliable internet providers in your area, so you can disconnect from the failing connection, and use the one that still works. This way you can continue operations as normal. However, if this is too costly for your practice, or if both connections happen to go down, then using a 4G hotspot is another option for emergency situations, although the speed of your connection might suffer as a result. Should you need to use a hotspot, our experts strongly advise that you limit it to emergencies and focus on restoring regular internet service as soon as possible.
It should also be noted that there will be no lag in the upload of any paper charts or other documents if minimum internet and bandwidth requirements are sufficiently met which will be based on the size of your practice. Large practices should be able to work efficiently on cloud-based EHR systems provided they’re using an internet speed of 100Mbps. Smaller practices can typically operate normally with even less.
We hope this blog answers any of your concerns regarding the use of cloud-based data storage for your medical practice. With so much misinformation on the web, it is imperative that you do your research before changing your health information technology or other front office tools. This topic is discussed in depth in our latest eBook, “Best Practices for Patient Engagement and Retention”, which includes information on other types of technology solutions that may be beneficial to the efficiency of your front office and practice as a whole.
Looking for a hosted cloud-based solution for your small medical practice? We can help. With 99% uptime, secure offsite data storage, and 24/7 secure access, monitoring, and maintenance, our cloud-based EHR software will eliminate the need for system backups and in-house server maintenance, and also reduce IT support expenses, with no in-office server required. Learn more about how our MicroMD Cloud EHR solution can help you get back to the business of healing, here.