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Ensuring Disaster Recovery in Healthcare Cloud Data

Risks involved in losing healthcare cloud data in service interruptions or physical disasters makes DRaaS solutions necessary for healthcare IT infrastructure.

- Benefits of healthcare cloud technology are not limited to running applications on thin clients and easily sharing electronic health data. Disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) ensures the resilience of data in the event of network outages, malicious attacks, and even physical disasters. These automated solutions are key to ensuring patient records are protected and can’t be lost if the hardware accessing it is destroyed.

Backup healthcare data to the cloud.

A DRaaS solution protects data from being lost due to service disruptions while information is being accessed and updated by recovering that data in the cloud. After the initial deployment by IT, the process becomes automated and does not need to be monitored on a consistent basis.

Before implementing a DRaaS solution, coming up with a disaster recovery plan (DRP) will help determine what an institution needs from a recovery service. Analyzing the daily interaction of employees with data being accessed using the healthcare cloud solution and the rate which new data is entering the cloud are important things to consider when it comes to disaster protocol and backup automation.The Department of Health & Human Services states that a risk analysis needs to be conducted for a DRP based on:

  • Administrative, physical and technical safeguards
  • Policies and procedures
  • Organizational standards

According to Gartner, DRaaS has historically seen its heaviest adoption in regulated industries including healthcare because of “government regulatory pressures to protect data,” attributable to the fact that managing all aspects of a DRP is almost impossible without automation and dedicated solution. Gartner cites that a wider adoption of DRaaS can be largely attributed to the proven viability of cloud-based solutions.

Healthcare cloud technology continues to prove itself both usable and practical, but there’s an unfortunate drawback of a higher chance things can go wrong because it’s a more complex process than physical files or in-house server storage. This makes DRPs especially important for healthcare organizations because of the laws surrounding HIPAA-covered entities. Providers who transmit electronic protected health information (ePHI) are required to have a DRP so continuous availability of these files is not compromised.

While more events can derail a cloud service solution, DRaaS can directly combat those instances on an automated basis from single user recovery to recovery of the entire health IT infrastructure. Using a cloud solution (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) for general infrastructure service is a good place to start. They all include data backup as part of their functionality and some of them include components of disaster recovery as well, especially IaaS.

There are several models of DRaaS solutions available:

  • To-cloud DRaaS: Used by private data centers or on-premise servers to backup data from applications not stored in the cloud.This model copies data from a physical server onto the cloud for organizations that have not migrated over to cloud infrastructure, but use cloud backup.
  • In-cloud DRaaS: Used when the data is stored in the cloud and is recovered to a separate cloud.
  • From-cloud DRaaS: Used when the data being recovered off of the cloud and onto a physical server.

Selecting one of these models depends on whether a cloud service is already in place, future plans for adopting or scaling up cloud service and requirements based on data restrictions. Some industries are in need of a physical backup server or prefer to have one. Organizations are not limited to one model if both physical and cloud backup is wanted or required.

The concept of internal access to healthcare infrastructure is slowly turning outward due to the continued adoption of cloud services. It’s becoming more important to ensure that data and services are always accessible as organizations move to a digitized working environment.This notion has inspired disaster recovery to move to the cloud, where it was traditionally done on-premise with recovery resources running constantly. With cloud implementation rising rapidly across the healthcare industry, disaster recovery moving to the cloud is a natural process.

Simplifying the recovery process and understanding the cloud recovery puts doctors and patients at ease knowing that their records are protected. Other security concerns about the cloud are being patched and resolved everyday and DRaaS is expected to take the place of unessential physical backup servers.

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