Cloud computing has become one of the more important and central assets for health care providers, as this flexible approach to IT allows the firms to more fluidly navigate the challenging and ever-changing landscape they operate within. From constantly evolving regulatory compliance and data security threats to the need for seamless deployment of novel technologies like mobility and big data, medical organizations would likely struggle to keep up without cloud services.

At the same time, privacy and security concerns remain as the biggest and most common obstacles standing in the way of cloud adoption, especially in a sector as heavily regulated as health care, which makes matters a bit more difficult for the C-suite. This is one of the many reasons why managed service providers have become so popular in this particular field, as more entities begin to specialize in health care-targeted secure cloud solutions that help to reduce the strain of compliance and privacy responsibilities.

Medical firms simply cannot afford to miss a beat in upholding regulatory compliance with core federal laws including the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. When they do, the risk of fines and penalties will be inherently higher, while vulnerabilities can begin to surface within operations that might lead to a major data breach.

On the other hand, speedy technology deployments and continuous adherence to federal statutes can be a bit more feasible when tapping the resources of a trustworthy MSP, especially one that specializes in health care compliance matters. Additionally, researching trends in cloud utilization and success stories with respect to security can go a long way toward informing the plans in place to capitalize on the technology while maintaining compliance.

Zen's place in health care IT
Healthcare IT News recently reported that few medical firms take an IT-centric approach to operational management, and this is likely holding the sector back from broader improvements in patient care. Considering the fact that physicians tend to be the ones pushing their hospitals toward allowing personal mobile device use or the inclusion of telemedicine assets, it should be clear that health care organizations need to find a way to get new technologies into play without hindering privacy and security efforts.

According to the news provider, balance is the key to the successful pursuit of new technology deployments. The source recommended that leaders work to incorporate IT plans into the actual mission of the firm itself. When these matters are handled in a disparate fashion, chances are the organization will miss the boat when working to optimize its processes and operations, as technology plays such a vital role in modern health care.

In many instances, it will be best to get a range of employees involved in the discussion to ensure that all practitioners and other staff members are behind the IT strategy and are supported in their daily responsibilities as a result of the relevant deployments. The source went on to affirm that meticulous analysis and evaluation of processes and identifying opportunities to leverage new solutions for core needs can help to achieve a strong balance between speed and security in IT deployments.

Managing assets
Another aspect of data security in cloud computing initiatives involves the matter of asset management, and HealthData Management recently argued that this is in fact one of the more consistent aspects that tells the story of a provider's success or failure in the defense category. The news provider stated that the proper management of physical and digital assets can help to dramatically reduce the risk of fines following an investigation by regulatory entities.

For example, if a health care firm did not fully understand where its patient data was stored - be it in an internal data center or a cloud computing environment outside of the facility - it would be noncompliant with HIPAA. This particular legislation gives the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights the ability to fine covered organizations up to $1.5 million annually for penalties, and must be followed to a T at all times.

On the other hand, when the health care provider is in complete control of all its physical and digital assets, knowing exactly where each item is and how it is managed, it will be better-positioned to maintain compliance with HIPAA and HITECH. This is yet another reason why MSPs that provide health care-oriented secure cloud services can be such exceptional assets to medical organizations, as these types of accounting, reporting and monitoring processes come standard within service level agreements.

At the end of the day, any health care provider that has struggled to balance security and speed in IT strategies might benefit from the use of the right secure cloud services.