Optimizing Cloud Applications for Healthcare Providers
The cloud offers any business the opportunity to access advanced technology and leverage it to improve reliability and performance of applications, but to migrate from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud is a huge undertaking and requires the right knowledge. For healthcare administrators, it can be a challenge to understand what should be sent to the cloud, what should stay on-premise, and the compliance requirements surrounding cloud services and data security.
Risks Associated with the Cloud and Healthcare Data
As you research the benefits of cloud infrastructure, you’ll see that there are several risks, but these risks mainly stem from improperly configured security controls. The cloud itself is secure, but the administrators who manage cloud infrastructure often don’t understand the consequences of specific configurations. Administrators also don’t take advantage of efficient logging and monitoring most providers offer to ensure that compromises are detected and mitigated early.
In a recent DivvyCloud report, 33 billion records were exposed in 2018 and 2019 due to cloud security misconfigurations. More concerning is that the report highlights 99% of public cloud misconfigurations go unreported. A 2020 report from Bitdefender showed that security misconfigurations are a top concern for CISOs, and endpoint misconfigurations are one of the most common categories for data breaches. Reports of misconfigurations and data breaches cause apprehension among healthcare providers who support and store highly sensitive patient data and HIPAA violation fines are hefty should this data be disclosed to attackers.
Benefits of the Cloud for Healthcare Providers
The security complications of misconfigurations can be mitigated with the right support, and putting them aside the cloud has several benefits for healthcare providers. With the right planning and migration support, healthcare providers can have the best of both worlds — configurations that secure data and infrastructure that supports reliability, performance, scalability and availability. This doesn’t mean every application will fit in the cloud, but a majority of infrastructure can be offloaded to a cloud provider, which saves money and time for the healthcare organization.
Despite the security risks, cloud computing has transformed healthcare infrastructure. Healthcare is one industry that’s slow to transform to the cloud, and it’s caused performance and scalability issues. Resource sharing and data analysis enhance public health and diagnosis, and the cloud has provided ways to further advancements in medicine. For example, an organization that keeps all data on-premise isn’t leveraging the ability to use a diagnosis or patient symptoms to generate potential second or third analysis based on shared cloud application features.
Scalability is also a major issue for healthcare providers. Even a small doctor’s office can see an Electronic Health Records (EHR) application data storage increase exponentially. This means that storage capacity must increase. Storage costs are expensive, because the organization needs capacity to store data and then the capacity to perform backups. With the cloud, the healthcare organization can scale storage as needed including the space needed to back up data.
Finally, the cloud offers reliability, performance and availability to all organizations, but healthcare can leverage this benefit more than any others. Healthcare and public health needs never stop no matter what time of the day. Healthcare organizations that use cloud infrastructure can ensure that applications run 24/7 and that performance is at its highest even during peak business hours.
How the Cloud Can Transform Healthcare Applications
Every digital transformation needs a plan, but to create a plan the organization needs to lay out goals and identify the cloud benefits that will be leveraged. Your goals could be simply to increase performance of web applications. It could be to reduce costs on expensive infrastructure, or it could be to leverage everything the public cloud has to offer. Here are just a few use cases for cloud transformation in healthcare:
- Run applications with better performance: EHR applications run faster, pharmacies can leverage faster script and medication management, and physicians can get help with diagnosis and analysis using technology that’s normally expensive to run in a small office.
- Billing and payments: Several billing and payment applications are available in the cloud to ease the transition of basic cash and insurance payments to a complete system that will allow the physician to take credit card payments and automate insurance claims.
- Logging and monitoring: Cybersecurity systems are expensive, but every major cloud provider offers logging and monitoring across infrastructure, which is also a HIPAA requirement for compliance.
Collaboration: More easily share data across multiple systems. For instance, patient records can be shared with billing systems in the cloud.
- Diagnosis analysis: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are also transforming healthcare. Doctors and hospitals can make more informed decisions based on intelligent analysis and treat patients faster.
- Lower costs: Technology is expensive, but the cloud offers access to complex technology at a fraction of the cost to house it on-premise.
- Improved security: Although the main issue with cloud resources is security, misconfigurations can be avoided by working with the right provider who will help organizations transfer data from on-premise systems to the cloud. The cloud itself is secure, but the wrong configurations can lead to major data disclosure. Kanda Software can help any healthcare provider transform their on-premise infrastructure to the cloud and secure it from attackers.
Legacy Applications Run in the Cloud Too
Healthcare is an industry that’s been around for decades, so legacy applications usually exist in the environment, especially hospitals. It’s not uncommon to think that cloud computing is only for new applications, but big cloud providers have services that run legacy applications. For instance, Google Cloud Platform offers APIs and serverless technology that runs legacy applications. Modernization Platform As a Service (ModPaaS) will run applications in COBOL, PL/I, Assembler, JCL and many more languages.
Migrating to the cloud to optimize legacy healthcare applications also requires a strategy in the same way modern applications require a migration plan. The plan that you choose determines if you will run some of the application in-house and the other part in the cloud. Data must be synchronized between the two platforms, but this can be done safely to secure data and keep both platforms available to customers.
By migrating legacy applications to the cloud, healthcare providers can retire older hardware and save money on costs. Migrating entirely to the cloud is considered rehosting, and there can often be some refactoring and reconfiguring necessary for the application to run. Kanda Software helps customers create a plan and migrate legacy healthcare applications to the cloud using a strategy to carefully test the environment first, and then perform a cutover only when stakeholders confirm that data and applications run as intended.
The healthcare industry is notoriously slow for migrating applications to the cloud. Compliance issues, security, and legacy applications are a few reasons healthcare providers fear moving to the cloud. If done correctly, migration to the cloud can be beneficial for hospitals, doctors offices, insurance companies, labs, and any other business that works with patient data. Your applications perform better, you have access to advanced security controls, and your system will scale as the business grows.