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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Apr 15 2012   10:40PM GMT

Should health organizations consider cloud based storage?



Posted by: RedaChouffani
cloud, nas, san, storage

Every year technology trends continue to impact our decisions concerning the emerging solutions and technologies that we will explore. But the more health organizations that officially start their journeys toward electronic health information, the more their storage needs are significantly, immediately increased.  Data associated with digital imaging, structure documents, unstructured documents, lab results, and several other data sets have required many to continuously reexamine their storage strategy and expand their capacity.

In recent months, a natural disaster in Asia  caused significant downtime for some of the country’s leading storage and drive manufacturers, sending storage costs up. While this subtle change has not decreased the demand, many are beginning to plan for alternatives and potentials for future models that will provide a more cost effective way to store information.

Cloud-based storage is seen as the next destination for home and enterprise users when it comes to storing their data without the need of physical drives or servers locally. Similar to what DropBox, Dell, iCloud and now the new Google cloud-based storage platform, many have recognized the clear advantages to this new data destination.

Centralized Storage:

Most cloud-based services provide a single destination for all data needs. With this model, information can be accessed from any Internet enabled device ranging from smartphones to traditional desktops.  This has been one of the biggest drivers in the consumers market. With the high rates of usage of devices such as tablets and smartphones, which offer limited storage capabilities, many have pursued centralized storage solution to help maintain all their private data stored in one place.

Protected Data:

In healthcare, the majority of data must be secured and protected against any unauthorized accessed. Organizations must be HIPAA compliant to ensure that they have actively adopted and taking the appropriate steps to secure and protect health information. Cloud-based solutions provide the extra layer of security, as the information is not physically stored in local storage devices inside the facilities.

Scalability:

Similar to cloud computing, cloud-based storage is very scalable. An organization may start with very small storage needs, and as soon as a health organization merges or acquires additional entities the storage needs can easily double or even triple over a short period of time. With Cloud based storage, increasing the capacity is a quick and easy step for the Health IT engineers.

Cost:

Traditionally storage devices, such as SAN and NAS, require up front capital investment. And as features are added to these devices and capacity is increased, the cost follows. With cloud-based storage, an organization is able to pay for what it is using, only. This provides a way to reduce the up front costs and an effective way to pay for only the used space.

Cloud-computing:

There are several vendors in the marketplace that go beyond offering just simple cloud-based services. For example, Dell and Amazon are able to add cloud-computing capabilities to their cloud storage solutions. This makes the data accessible for cloud computing. This can be a valuable bundle of services especially when a hospital or health system is seeking to warehouse large data sets and perform analysis on it.

Whether an organization is seeking to eliminate the need for internal data management and eliminate the need for complex backups and disaster recovery procedures and processes, or simply looking for predictable costs and limitless scalability, cloud-based storage is ultimately here to stay. And as adoption increases, so will the concerns surrounding the security of the data and speed. The fun never ends.

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