HEALTHCARE IN THE CLOUD

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1 HEALTHCARE IN THE CLOUD

2 SPI Innovations offers cloud computing services to healthcare providers in hopes of providing a breadth of solutions, including increased security, accessibility and productivity. There s no denying the benefits of incorporating the latest technology in just about every industry. Whether it s portable credit card swipers for merchants on the go or 3D printers for aerospace engineers, just about every industry has been affected by the tech revolution of recent years. Technological advancements in the medical field are particularly important, as they have a direct effect on the number of lives saved each day. Contrary to what many may think, technological advancements in the medical world aren t all focused on equipment. While incredible progress has been made in life-saving medical instruments, office tools have been of utmost importance in streamlining hospitals and doctors offices across the country. Technology that enables the sharing of vital information has been particularly beneficial because of how much it speeds up everyday processes. Before the advent of electronic medical records (EMRs), for example, an emergency room nurse might have to waste precious minutes digging for an unconscious patient s medical history to check for allergies. With the current trajectory of technological developments, healthcare professionals across the world will soon be able to access patient information with a few simple clicks. Although all forms of EMRs are useful, cloud computing is particularly

3 advantageous for healthcare providers. Cloud computing stores data in an encrypted online database, so rather than tying data down to a hard drive, records can be accessed anywhere by those with permission. In fact electronic health records (EHRs) have proven so beneficial to the industry that the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was established in 2009, stipulating that all healthcare entities must begin transferring all records to EHR systems. Currently, incentives are given to practices that choose to move towards cloud computing, but in the coming years, there will be actual penalties for practitioners who are slow to make the digital switch. According to the new guidelines, physicians who do not adopt certified EHR systems will receive reduced Medicare reimbursements. While practices have until 2015 to make the switch, the reduction percentage will increase in the subsequent years for practices that continually refuse. Healthcare professionals can breathe easy knowing they re in compliance with HIPAA and that their patients private information is safe and secure. Government compliance is not the only advantage, however. SPI Innovations offers cloud computing services to healthcare providers in hopes of providing a breadth of solutions, including increased security, accessibility and productivity. No matter the discipline of medicine performed, every practice can reap these benefits by transitioning into a cloud-based system. Security Security is obviously key when it comes HITECH Know-How Penalties for willful neglect can extend up to $250,000. Eligible providers can receive up to $44,000 through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. Eligible or providers can receive up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Physicians who do not adopt certified EHR systems will eventually receive reduced Medicare reimbursements. Physicians have until 2015 to switch to EHR. to storing sensitive information such as medical records, and it s an issue that s stirred a fair amount of debate over the years. With the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996, compliance requirements were altered to restrict access to medical records, protecting patients privacy. The HIPAA Privacy Rule set limits and conditions for the use of individually identifiable health information, dictating that such data must be protected, as it is property of the patient. SPI Innovations makes it easy for practices to comply, taking complete responsibility for the safeguarding of clients data. SPI

4 No matter the situation, cloud services allow medical professionals to access data % of the time. Innovations cloud services are HIPAAcompliant, meaning they follow each and every regulation set down in the Privacy Rule. Healthcare professionals can breathe easy knowing they re in compliance with HIPAA and that their patients private information is safe and secure. Cloud computing fits the HIPAA regulations by establishing a variety of security measures to safeguard the information. Practices cloud-based storage spaces are encrypted, meaning that only authorized users can access the coded information. Another security measure is simply the location of the data. With all records in one place managed by one professional IT company, as opposed to several healthcare employees there s less risk of leaking or losing important information. One way in which SPI Innovations ensures security is through a high-power firewall, which is a security system that regulates network traffic. While most smaller healthcare practices rely on inexpensive firewalls to protect their data, SPI uses a military-grade double firewall to ensure protection. Another protection measure SPI Innovations takes is backing up information in an additional data center. Besides the main data center, SPI Innovations has a hot spare, a fail-safe mechanism located miles away that can be accessed in case the primary facility is damaged for any reason. The hot spare replicates the primary data throughout the day to ensure proper back-up. SPI uses a privately owned fiber network that is wholly located in Michigan for all cloud services. Clients benefit from private cloud systems, as opposed to public clouds, like Amazon EC2 or Rackspace Cloud. A private cloud ensures that a user s data is completely isolated from other users. Because public clouds can

5 allow for sharing, they are not HIPAAcompliant. Data Accessibility When individuals take advantage of cloud services for personal use, most are aiming for accessibility. In today s hightech environment, most citizens of the developed world are perpetually linked to one another and their data, always connecting and sharing. This non-stop connectivity is highly beneficial for a number of reasons, but believe it or not, there are even more impactful boons than continuous access to your vacation photos. For physicians, cloud service means convenient access to patient records from just about anywhere. A busy doctor may wish to look over records in the comfort of her own home after a long day, or perhaps she has a breakthrough idea concerning a possible diagnosis and needs to check patient records on the go. No matter the situation, cloud services allow medical professionals to access data percent of the time. Users can access the cloud securely on a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets, making it perfect for emergency situations like natural disasters and power outages. Rather than waiting out a downed server, for example, medical practices can rely on safe data storage at SPI Innovations $10 million data center. Efficiency Taking your records online increases efficiency by speeding up processes and eliminating wasted time. Searching electronically is obviously a great deal faster than wading through a sea of physical documents, but cloud systems also free up a great deal of time when it comes to administrative work. Compared to offices that keep EMRs on an

6 in-office server, cloud users save time and money that would otherwise go to server maintenance, including upgrades. Practices enrolled in cloud services always have the option to upgrade to the current operating system version, and SPI takes care of the upgrade. Practices are then always using the latest software without the hassle and cost of having to update. This is especially helpful for smaller practices that don t employ in-house IT departments. Implementing cloud services thus takes the burden off of the practice s administrators, not only saving time but also alleviating stress. These efficiency benefits translate directly to the bottom line. Increasing productivity and security prevents unnecessary spending. Purchasing hardware and software for in-house or on premises computing can be expensive upfront and outdated rapidly. With constant software updates from operating system developers, such as Microsoft, it is nearly impossible to stay up to date without considerable costs. Once a medical practice is enrolled in cloud services, SPI hosts, maintains and upgrades the data center on its own, making the expenditure for your business an operating expense rather than a capital expense. The practice is then solely responsible for purchasing a client computer with which employees can access the cloud. Because the only necessary tool is one that almost all offices already have, cloud computing is the most cost-effective and secure solution available. Making the Switch With the U.S. government leading the push toward cloud-based EHR storage, it s only a matter of time before all American medical practices embrace the cloud. Finding the right IT company to provide cloud services is vital to successful storage. Due to the sensitive nature of the information being stored, healthcare practitioners must make sure their vendor is HIPAA-compliant before making any commitments. Vendors should also take considerable measures to ensure security of data, protecting it from outside users as well as from corruption and destruction. Since 1991, SPI has provided Michigan companies with comprehensive IT solutions that bring value to their organizations. With SPI s state-of-the-art secure data center, medical practices can expect safe, reliable and responsive service. Please call SPI Innovations at (989) or visit to schedule a private tour of their data center. Sources: 1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HITECH Act. The HIPAA Survival Guide Electronic Medical Records Deadline : Will I Be Assessed Penalties For Not Using An EMR System? MedicalRecords.com U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Summary of The HIPAA Privacy Rule EHR Incentive Programs. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Serviceshttp://www.cms. gov/regulations-and-guidance/legislation/ehrincentiveprograms/index.html?redirect=/ ehrincentiveprograms/

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