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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

5 things healthcare organizations must know before moving to the cloud

5 things healthcare organizations must know before moving to the cloud

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imageIs your healthcare organization interested in moving strategic applications and patient data to the cloud?  Constrained by decreasing budgets and increasing demands, many healthcare organizations are moving applications, or making decisions about moving applications, to the cloud. If you are one of those healthcare providers, my Microsoft colleague, Dr. Dennis Schmuland, who serves as our U.S. chief health strategy officer, provides some important areas to explore and questions to ask of any cloud solution provider you are entrusting with your data.

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Clearly, adopting the cloud in health is not so much a question of “if” as it is a question of “when”, but how do you align your decision around what matters most to your healthcare organization? With productivity, clinical safety and security in mind, below are five key considerations any health organization should demand from their cloud solutions provider.

1. Security compliance and HIPAA/HITECH readiness

  • Will the cloud productivity solution provider sign a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) to ensure a covered entity’s electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) is managed as required by Federal law?
  • Does the cloud productivity solution provider’s BAA meet the healthcare industry’s requirements?
  • Are encryption services offered?
  • Does the cloud provider give me a way to manage mobile devices like laptops, tablets, and phones that access patient information?

2. Privacy control over your own data

  • How easy is it to control permissions to ensure only those who need to view ePHI can do so?
  • How easy is it to terminate the service and delete my data from the cloud?
  • Will my data be used for advertising or other commercial purposes without
  • my consent?

3. Cloud on your terms

  • Does the vendor offer a cloud or nothing ultimatum rather than giving you the choices of a cloud solution, an on -premise solution, or a hybrid combination, on your terms?
  • Do I have to go to multiple cloud providers to have a complete cloud strategy?

4. Enterprise-ready

  • Does the cloud productivity solution provider have a history of enterprise experience in healthcare?
  • Do they offer solutions for enterprise customers that are distinct from their consumer offerings?
  • Can I leverage my existing investments in software and training?
  • Will mission-critical data and services be available and supported 24/7?

5 Patient-centered care strategy

  • How does the cloud productivity solution support patient-centered care?

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Don’t make a move until you consider all of the above.  You can learn more about considerations for cloud computing in health and healthcare by visiting this site: Government Health IT

Bill Crounse, MD                               Senior Director, Worldwide Health                        Microsoft

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