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Dropbox Healthcare IT Infrastructure Adoption on the Rise

Once exclusively a consumer service, Dropbox is gaining traction in the healthcare industry with HIPAA and HITECH compliance.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Dropbox is finding its way into healthcare IT infrastructure as adoption grows among provider organizations.

Dropbox becoming popular in healthcare organizations

Dropbox announced the growth of its use among healthcare organizations for clinicians to share files with other users in the network, carving out its place as a valuable enterprise tool.

Back in November of 2015, Dropbox revealed its efforts to to meet the health data security and privacy measures under HIPAA and HITECH, transforming the solution from a consumer-facing application to a solution enterprises could seriously consider for their user’s file sharing needs.

“Dropbox provides the industrial strength security, control, and compliance standards that IT departments demand, helping us drive momentum in regulated industries like healthcare. These companies are increasingly turning to Dropbox to modernize their workflows,” said Thomas Hansen, Global VP of Revenue at Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud-based, file-hosting service that makes a user’s files available on all devices by adding them to their personal user space. Dropbox also allows users to share files with others by inviting them to view any folder, or sharing links to specific files or folders.

Healthcare organizations are beginning to embrace Dropbox because of its ability to transfer large files and its easy accessibility from all devices clinicians may encounter throughout the day. Dropbox is able to handle the large volume of Image and research files.

The Gladstone Institute is one of several high-profile healthcare organizations currently using Dropbox as part of their health IT infrastructure to share research data.

Gladstone faced basic technological hurdles which made it difficult for chemists, biologists, engineers, and statisticians difficult to collaborate with one another.

“Collaboration is the only way we can make major scientific breakthroughs,” says Gladstone President R. Sanders Williams, MD.

The organization deals with massive images, 3D models, and videos as vital parts of researchers’ work to analyze cell and tissue types. Dropbox has allowed researchers to share these massive files with collaborators around the world.

Dropbox also assists Gladstone in writing and submitting research grants because the necessary files can be quickly shared and accessed across many different lab locations.

“Scientific grants may be written by five or six people across different labs,” says Megan McDevitt, VP of Communications at Gladstone. “It’s a lot easier to iterate on these documents through Dropbox than exchanging versions over email.”

Because of Dropbox’s success with consumers, many researchers were more inclined to embrace Dropbox because of its simplicity.

“They were already familiar with Dropbox, so the business product made sense for our organization. We want to provide tools that facilitate collaboration among our scientists,” said Gladstone CIO Scott Pegg, PhD.

Dropbox’s support for HITECH-related and HIPAA-covered entities back in 2015 came at a time when shadow IT was a threat to healthcare organizations. Because Dropbox was a popular application for consumers before it was introduced to enterprise infrastructure. Employees were familiar with Dropbox and prefered it over other more dated file sharing solutions because of its simplicity and speed.

While the unauthorized use of Dropbox in an enterprise environment was allowing users to share files more efficiently, Dropbox was not part of the IT infrastructure so IT administrators did not have control over the security protocols.Healthcare organizations in particular were at risk becuase Dropbox may have been being used by staff, but was not HIPAA compliant.

Instead of implementing a traditional enterprise file sharing solutions, organizations sought out Dropbox because it was the solution many users preferred.

Dropbox currently makes business associate agreements (BAAs) available for healthcare organizations and other organizations working with and sharing files containing protected health information (PHI) within the healthcare industry.

Dropbox also offers services to assist healthcare organizations integrating Dropbox into their compliance and health IT infrastructures, to ensure the solution is available across the network.

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