EHRs Are Moving to the Cloud: Who’s Securing Them?
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are one of the most important aspects of modern healthcare delivery. They allow healthcare providers to keep track of patient data, medical histories, and treatment plans in a secure and centralized location. However, the traditional on-prem approach to managing EHRs has often been cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive. As cloud computing becomes the norm – rather than the exception – in healthcare, EHRs are finally moving to the cloud, making it easier for healthcare providers to access, manage, and share patient data securely.
Moving EHRs to the cloud offers several benefits for healthcare providers, including greater scalability, improved efficiency, and increased accessibility. Indeed, cloud based EHRs can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, allowing healthcare providers to provide timely care to patients from their own home, if need be. Additionally, cloud based EHRs can be easily scaled up or down as the needs of the healthcare organization evolve. By leveraging cloud-based solutions, healthcare providers can reduce the costs and complexities associated with maintaining on-premises data centers.
Managing Risk While Optimizing Cloud EHR Storage
However, as with any data management system and technological innovation, there are risks associated with transitioning EHRs to the cloud and securely managing them. Healthcare providers must take care to secure and protect sensitive patient data from unauthorized access.
The responsibility for protecting patient data and maintaining cybersecurity in a cloud-based EHR system rests with the healthcare provider, their partners that interact with the data to treat patients, and the vendors that engage with cloud-based EHRs. Ultimately, all of them must take proactive steps to reduce security risks and comply with regulatory requirements.
To protect patient data and maintain cybersecurity in a cloud based EHR system, healthcare providers ought to implement a range of security measures:
Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Healthcare providers should incorporate the industry standard of unique user IDs and passwords, two-factor authentication, and role-based access controls.
Verifying the identity of a user or device is essential for ensuring that only authorized users can access patient data. Common examples of authentication in healthcare include the use of passwords, biometric authentication (such as fingerprint or facial recognition), and smart cards.
Systems Integration and Interoperability
This is the ability of different systems to communicate and exchange data with each other, which is essential for ensuring that patient data can be shared between different providers and systems. Examples of systems integration and interoperability in healthcare include the use of HL7 and FHIR standards, as well as API integration.
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically. FHIR compatibility refers to the ability of a system to communicate and exchange data using the FHIR standard. In healthcare, it’s critical for ensuring that different systems can exchange patient data using a common standard.
The use of secure and trusted networks and protocols for exchanging data is critical in healthcare since patient care is driven by several highly interoperable systems. Examples include the use of secure VPNs and other secure networking protocols.
Security Risk Assessments (SRAs)
Conducting regular security risk assessments is not only an effective way to check up on an organization’s cyber security, but also a powerful tool to proactively defend against evolving cyber threats with a fresh perspective.
Additionally, healthcare providers must ensure that all third-party vendors and service providers who have access to patient data are vetted and comply with relevant data protection regulations. Business associate agreements (BAA) can be lengthy processes to craft and negotiate, but they’re a critical tool to indemnify partners and create a secure foundation for the partnership.
Leveraging the Power of Cloud-Based EHRs
As we look to the future technologies that will innovate digital healthcare, cloud-based EHRs offer many benefits to healthcare providers, including improved efficiency, scalability, and accessibility. However, the responsibility for protecting patient data and maintaining cybersecurity in a cloud-based EHR system lies with the healthcare provider, their healthcare partners, and their vendors.
To reduce risks and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, healthcare providers must implement a range of security measures to safeguard sensitive patient data. By doing so, healthcare providers can provide quality care to patients while ensuring that their personal health information is private and secure.