When you think of files in healthcare, you may think of illegible doctor notes, clipboards with unpronounceable drugs, or a hastily printed summary of your visit. The healthcare industry generates a lot of paperwork that makes its way into many hands, so how can healthcare organizations keep it flowing to the right places – and do so securely?
Many healthcare organizations are still relying on outdated software systems. However, the move to more modern solutions, including the cloud, is underway throughout the industry. Discover how the cloud is helping healthcare providers today.
Cloud Adoption in Healthcare
Healthcare organizations have been moving to cloud-based technology for years, and recent events have accelerated that movement; COVID-19 emphasized the need for online healthcare alternatives and sped up many physicians' transitions to virtual options like telehealth. This digital need extends to all types of file exchanges.
IT modernization in healthcare has been a slow process, but new technologies have the potential to improve healthcare file sharing: how providers receive, work on, and send patient data to other providers and patients themselves.
Related Reading: IT Pros in Healthcare: How to Choose a Secure File Transfer Solution
The constraints, however, include working with sensitive, highly regulated patient data; an always-on business model, where system downtime or lagging could make the difference in a life or death situation. However, most cloud technology can work around those – and often improve on the methods currently in place.
File Sharing in Healthcare
File sharing requirements in healthcare focus on secure sending and storage and aim to limit the number of people who have access to data to the bare minimum necessary. Strong security is a must when transferring electronic patient health information (PHI), and user access controls and audit reporting are essential.
Requirements in the U.S. and EU
There are two major U.S. and one European compliance requirement that outline appropriate file sharing practices in healthcare: HIPAA and HITECH. These complimentary acts are less than 30 years old, and both provide guidelines for how to securely share data.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was initially implemented in 1996 to create uniform standards protecting patient health information, especially from being disclosed without a patient’s consent or knowledge. Data breaches in which patient data is exposed are considered HIPAA violations, since patients certainly don’t want their personal information shared with people not directly involved in their healthcare.
HITECH, a 2009 law also known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, builds up enforcement around appropriate methods of electronic file transfer and storage. It is also meant to promote “the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology,” per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Get the Datasheet: HIPAA & HITECH Require High Security for Healthcare Records (opens in new window)
Why Healthcare Organizations Move to the Cloud
Today, cloud tech is being used to collect and use more patient data while giving users access to larger databases of information for better patient care. There are many types of tools available to achieve the following:
- Cost savings. The cloud is a cost-effective way to develop complex infrastructure needed to support a variety of organizational activities. By reducing the need for on-premises storage, organizations can save money on the massive amounts of data storage they require.
- Flexibility. The cloud makes it easy to access and share data, including to patients, who benefit from better access to their own health records. Plus, it’s easy to change processes on a dime and make the solution work for you quickly.
- Scalability. As with cost savings benefits, cloud technology makes it easy to only pay for what you use, and easily scale up use as needed. This can make data storage simpler and cheaper.
- Collaboration. Physicians need to share data among themselves, with other healthcare providers, and with their patients. Cloud tools with collaboration functionality and user access roles give organizations the ability to share data both internally and to external.
- Data integration. Cloud-based tools can function as iPaaS solutions and bring disparate tools under one roof, helping consolidate data flow through a central product.
Related Reading: How GoAnywhere MFT Helps the Healthcare Industry Thrive
Cloud-based healthcare data transfer solutions can improve data flow throughout the organization, all while reducing costs.
Data Sharing Challenges in Healthcare
HIPAA, HITECH, and the GDPR all outline data sharing requirements and impose minimum security standards that must be met. While no solution can be “HIPAA-Certified,” the right solution can help you achieve or maintain HIPAA compliant file sharing processes.
Software solutions cannot guarantee to make your organization compliant, but they can help you take steps and safeguards towards meeting essential compliance and security requirements.
Related Reading: 10 Tips to Protect Your Company’s Data in 2021
HITECH is meant to support the usage of effective, helpful tools in healthcare, but implementing these is often easier said than done. Some tech needs to be front facing, for providers and patients to use, while other options are implemented for the IT team.
Besides complying with HIPAA, HITECH, and any other applicable data requirements, healthcare providers must contend with the many roles that need to view, share, and collaborate on patient data. This list can include staff members, insurance groups, clinics, and external specialists.
Healthcare has traditionally been one of the industries most impacted by data breaches and hacks. Thankfully, most healthcare organizations have moved away from FTP, which helps put them on the path towards better data security, but there are still many dangers to avoid.
Security. Data security should always be at the forefront of any organization’s cybersecurity stance. Luckily, cloud providers today take this into account in their offerings, and include security, risk management, and monitoring services to protect their users.
Secure Healthcare Data Transfer Solutions
Healthcare is a huge industry that necessitates quick, efficient work. Using tools built to improve processes – whether cloud-based or on-premises – helps support busy healthcare workers and patients while keeping data security at the forefront.
The cloud has the ability to transform how healthcare providers receive and work with data, but using the right tool still applies. Discover how managed file transfer (MFT) can help with HIPAA-compliance sharing – and centralize, streamline, and secure your data transfers.