- HIPAA compliant managed hosting solution provider Connectria Hosting announced the ability for customers to run HIPAA compliant environments in Microsoft Azure on Monday.
Connectria Hosting has a history of hosting HIPAA compliant environments for healthcare organizations and is continuing to provide organizations of all sizes HIPAA compliant environments for electronic health records (EHRs) and protected health information (PHI).
Connectria Hosting allows organizations to choose the cloud hosting environment and technology stack that works best for their IT infrastructure. The company then provides HIPAA/HITECH managed services including a suite of security and support features designed to specifically address HIPAA and HITECH standards, including the appropriate methods of encryption within each cloud environment.
"Connectria has supported customers in Azure for the past two years," said Rich Waidmann, Connectria President and CEO of Connectria Hosting. "We're excited to now enable customers to host HIPAA Compliant environments in Microsoft Azure. Our extensive background in HIPAA Compliance, combined with our close partnership with Microsoft, will help ensure that healthcare providers and healthcare software companies can meet their HIPAA requirements when they store electronic PHI in Microsoft's Azure Cloud."
According to a recent survey conducted by SADA Systems, Microsoft Azure is the most popular cloud service provider (CSP) among healthcare organizations. Microsoft Azure offers healthcare organizations:
- Close integration with other Microsoft tools: Azure seamlessly integrates with the widely used Microsoft tools such as SharePoint, Office 365 and Outlook. Organizations can also use the same virtual machines in Azure that they use on-premises, like Windows and Linux, which simplifies things.
- IaaS and PaaS: Azure includes both IaaS (managed) and PaaS (unmanaged) services. IaaS allows companies to outsource their cloud computing infrastructure and pay for only for what they use. PaaS allows companies to develop their own applications without having to invest in the IT infrastructure. As a result, organizations may customize their cloud environments to their detailed requirements.
Organizations already using Microsoft solutions in their IT infrastructure may want to stay with Microsoft for their cloud deployment as well, and storing their cloud data using Microsoft Azure in a HIPAA compliant hosting site can give Microsoft users access to the many enterprise tools they offer.
Recent studies and surveys have shown that health IT decision-makers are no longer faced with the choice of whether to implement cloud technology, but are faced with how to best utilize cloud computing to meet the unique needs of their organization.
A recent Gartner study indicates that cloud is all but necessary for healthcare IT and is poised to be one of the main components of IT infrastructure in healthcare. A recent HIMSS study made a similar point, insisting that cloud computing has become mission-critical to healthcare organizations.
HIPAA compliance is always a top concern for health IT departments and as more vendors are making to effort to get third-party audits and are willing to sign business associate agreements, healthcare organizations can trust them more protect sensitive information.
“Audits have been around for a long time and there are some customized ones for healthcare, Jeff Thomas, CTO of Forward Health Group, told HITInfrastructure.com. “Ensuring that you have the proper contract but also the third party assurance like a SOC 2 audit, provides a third party opinion that the vendor you're choosing to outsource to has adequate security controls that meet your needs. You can get an actual report and to make sure it aligns with what your needs and risk profile is.”
Companies such as Connectria making it known that they are HIPAA compliant and offer many different cloud environments, makes it easier for healthcare organizations to narrow down their choices when selecting a hosting service or any other cloud service.