Security Trends in Cloud Computing Part 2: Addressing data challenges in healthcare

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at survey data from financial services organizations and discussed some potential benefits for those that adopt cloud computing. The data are derived from the Cloud Security Readiness Tool (CSRT), which helps organizations evaluate whether cloud adoption will meet their business needs.

In today’s post, I want to focus on cloud security trends in the healthcare industry.

Many people rely on healthcare providers, emergency workers, and hospitals to deliver aid in moments of critical need and to provide ongoing treatment that saves lives. In order to provide optimal service, doctors and other medical professionals need timely access to patient data.

Today’s digital technology plays an important role, enabling the storage and rapid retrieval of patient records and other important information. At the same time, patients expect their sensitive personal information to be handled properly, to ensure accuracy and confidentiality.

In our analysis of the survey responses from healthcare providers, data management practices stood out among areas for security improvements which could be facilitated by adopting cloud services.

Nearly half (49 percent) of healthcare respondents reported they do not have a tested, organization-wide, data backup solution in place.

Without a consistent backup schedule, a critical technical outage such as a server failure could make patient data unavailable when a health specialist requires it. This could result in delayed treatment, or misdiagnosis of complex illnesses that require medical history.

A qualified Cloud Service Provider (CSP) can help manage and safeguard that data, reducing the risk of interruptions in patient care and allowing healthcare providers to focus on delivering the best service to patients.

The survey also showed that 39 percent of healthcare organizations did not use standard data classification methods. This could result in improper handling of sensitive private data, which might end up in the hands of medical staff not authorized to process it, or not trained to use appropriate precautions.

Experienced CSPs typically maintain a data backup and recovery framework that defines objectives and assigns clear responsibilities to specific personnel, aligning to industry practices. In addition, many cloud providers employ comprehensive data classification programs to help keep sensitive information accessible only to authorized employees.

If you work in the healthcare services industry and are considering cloud adoption, I encourage you to download the full report, “Security Trends in the Healthcare Industry” to see how the cloud might bring value to your organization.

About the study
The results are based on aggregated and anonymized data, collected from more than 12,000 respondents who have used the Cloud Security Readiness Tool (CSRT) between 2012 and 2014. The CSRT includes a survey for organizations and provides a custom report to help them understand their current IT infrastructure, identify relevant industry regulations, and assess whether cloud adoption will meet their business needs.

About the Author
Adrienne Hall

General Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Adrienne Hall is a General Manager in the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing group, where she leads a team of information technology (IT) professionals who are focused on the security, privacy, reliability, and accessibility of devices and services built on Microsoft technology. Read more »