Health-care providers are starting to embrace the fast-growing area of technology known as cloud services, the model of shared computing in which data is stored on remote servers that hospitals can access via desktop, tablet or smartphone. Instead of big capital investments in their own storage, they are looking for service providers that handle all their data storage needs.
About 20% of health-care systems in the U.S. are using cloud-based storage for images and medical records. That number is increasing rapidly each year. More than half of the country’s health systems will use cloud storage for medical imaging in the next three years.
Hospitals generally are required by law to keep images for seven years, but many keep them longer in patient files for future comparison. They also retain backup copies as part of the disaster-recovery planning and to comply with the federal healthcare privacy law. As a result, image archive storage is increasing by as much as 45% annually.
When considering moving storage to the cloud, there are some key considerations and associated benefits to weigh.
- Cost – Backing up your data isn’t always cheap, especially when you factor in the cost of any equipment needed to do so – think external hard drives or backup tapes. Additionally, there is the cost of the time it takes to manually complete routine backups. Online storage services reduce much of the cost associated with traditional backup methods, providing ample storage space in the cloud for a low monthly fee.
- Invisibility – For all intents and purposes, cloud storage is invisible; with no physical presence, it doesn’t take up valuable space at home or in the office.
- Security – Storing confidential or sensitive information in the cloud is often more secure than storing it locally, especially for businesses. With online storage services, data is encrypted both during transmission and while at rest, ensuring no unauthorized users can access the files.
- Automation – The biggest issue most consumers and businesses have with backing up is follow through; it simply just doesn’t get done. Online storage services make the tedious process of backing up easy to accomplish through automation. You simply select what and when you want to back up, and the service does the rest.
- Accessibility – From tablets to smartphones, netbooks to desktops, we’re using more devices on a daily basis than ever before, and toggling files between each of these devices can be cumbersome and complex. Not so with online storage services. You can access your account from any internet connection, whether you’re on a mobile browser or your work computer.
- Syncing –Syncing ensures your files are automatically updated across all of your devices. This way, the latest version of a file you saved on your desktop is available on your smartphone.
- Sharing – Whether you want to share a single photo or an entire folder with hundreds of documents, online storage services allow you to easily share files with just a few clicks.
- Collaboration – Online storage services are also ideal for collaboration purposes. They allow multiple people to edit and collaborate on a single file or document. You don’t have to worry about tracking the latest version while permission-based access keeps data safe and trackable.
- Protection – Cloud storage serves as an added layer of data protection for your precious and irreplaceable files. Backups are kept in a secure location that is physically removed from the originals.
- Recovery – In the event of catastrophic data loss, you’ll have backups of all your original files so you can restore them with zero downtime.