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Why Aren't Health Organizations Embracing Cloud Storage?

As hospitals around the world move from paper-based records to electronic systems, they cited disaster recovery as one of their top priorities. While prepping for disaster is good business, shouldn't something else be a priority on the agenda of those embracing more health IT?
As hospitals around the world move from paper-based records to electronic systems, they cited disaster recovery as one of their top priorities. While prepping for disaster is good business, shouldn't something else be a priority on the agenda of those embracing more health IT?Where's the health care industry's focus on security? That was my initial thought when I reviewed the partially released survey [.pdf] results from storage provider BridgeHead Software. Their survey found that the top health IT spending priority for 2010, coming in at 44 percent, was disaster recovery. That led Picture and Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) with 38 percent and scanning paper documents at 35 percent.

No doubt the storage demands in health care are growing as rapidly - if not more so - than any other industry. In a previous survey, the same group found that more than 69 percent of health care companies foresee their data storage to increase because of more digitized imaging files, patient records, and other related documentation.

Surprisingly, only 15 percent of respondents listed cloud storage as a priority.

Let's hope it's not security concerns that's keeping health care organizations from adopting cloud-based storage. Why? Because it would be near impossible for a dedicated cloud provider to do any worse than most health care organizations at securing sensitive patient data.

Let's take a look at search results of medical related breaches from the Dataloss Database operated by the Open Security Foundation. A cursory overview of recent data breaches show stolen hard drives, stolen notebooks, stolen PCs, and lost removable media top the list of most common cause of data breaches at health care organizations.

Some of the more recent data security blunders include a stolen drive with an undetermined number of patient records that contained names, Social Security Numbers, and medical details. Another includes a stolen laptop with more than 64,000 patient records. And yet another incident involves a stolen portable drive with 180,111 billion service reports.

According to the Dataloss Database, as of now, there have been several thousand such health care related data breaches involving millions of patient records.

Perhaps, along with their disaster recovery efforts, health care organizations should take a thorough review of their storage and data security policies and enforcement efforts. Something has to be done to improve the abysmal state of health IT security.

And, actually, it looks as if the best way to do that is to do everything they can to get digitized patient data as far away from their own systems as possible.

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