Despite the high-in-the-sky image conjured by the phrase “cloud computing,” documents in the cloud are not floating in a mystical ether. Instead, they’re being saved inside vaults of servers connected with snaking cables and blinking lights. If a business rents a portion of a server that’s shared with others, it’s a public cloud; if a business rents the entire server, that’s a private cloud. Businesses who are just starting to consider cloud-based IT services might be overwhelmed by all their options, including whether to go with a public or private cloud service.

Here are three key differences to help simplify the private cloud vs public cloud decision:

1. Public cloud solutions are generally more cost-effective than private cloud

Just like taking a public bus is generally a more cost-effective way to get from one place to another than hiring a limousine, the public cloud option is more affordable for most businesses and still gets the job done. Tech Target describes public cloud storage services as cost-effective because “organizations pay only for the resources they use.”

2. Private cloud solutions are generally more secure than public cloud

Although cloud security continues to evolve rapidly, there is less risk storing data on hardware that only your organization can access, compared to hardware shared with numerous organizations. Businesses considering using a public cloud should ask the vendor about data encryption, access controls, and other methods the vendor uses to ensure data security.

3. Private cloud solutions are better for large businesses with varied computing needs

A small business that’s looking for cloud solutions primarily to back up data won’t need the massive resources of a private cloud. However, large corporations with computing needs that are difficult to predict may prefer a private cloud for maximum flexibility.

Interested in learning more? Please contact us.

HIPAA compliance is critical to success in any healthcare field, regardless of the nature of the health condition being treated. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with physical problems or psychiatric medicine; compliance applies to workers in all divisions, whether it be in Cardiology, Neurology, Oncology, Occupational Therapy or Mental Health.

Any time the nature of your job involves working with patients who are receiving professional treatment, you must respect their inherent right to privacy and protection of their personal information that you hold. You have access to knowledge about the person that not everyone generally knows; this gives you power, and power should never be misused.

Compliance means respecting the rules and maintaining the confidentiality of every person whose protected health information (PHI) you have the privilege to know.

PHI includes:

  1. Names
  2. Addresses or other geographical identifiers
  3. Birthdays and other dates directly related to the client
  4. Phone and fax numbers
  5. Social security numbers
  6. Email addresses
  7. Diagnoses
  8. Prescribed medications
  9. Types of treatment received

Other identifying information that should be avoided includes account numbers, health plan numbers, certificate or license numbers, license plate numbers, student or employee ID numbers, medical records, videos and photographs.

If it’s something you wouldn’t want others to have access to or know about you, you shouldn’t release it without the permission of others, either. Consent is key. You must never release PHI without getting verbal or written consent from the person the information pertains to (or, in some cases, legally belongs to).

There are some exceptions to the rule.   In certain cases, it is okay to break confidentiality and release a person’s protected health information without their consent. However, you must ensure that you are doing it only in these specified circumstances:

  • If you suspect child abuse or neglect
  • If you suspect the abuse of an at-risk adult or elder
  • If you suspect domestic violence
  • If a person is at risk or harming themselves or is a danger to themselves or others
  • You are being subpoenaed by a court of law

Always make sure that you stay up to date with HIPAA regulations and the ways that you can comply. Making one small mistake could cost your job. It’s never a bad idea to educate yourself and remind yourself of what you need to do to make sure that a costly mistake like that doesn’t happen.

These days, businesses that haven’t moved to the cloud are increasingly rare. Moving to the cloud is no longer about gaining an advantage over competitors; instead, it’s about keeping up with them. Analysts at Cisco predict that yearly global cloud IP traffic in 2020 will reach 14.1 zettabytes (ZB), a more than three-fold increase from the 3.9 ZB traffic in 2015.

For reference, one zettabyte is a trillion terabytes, and even just one terabyte can hold 40 days’ worth of movies. But some businesses are still reluctant to move forward with cloud-based solutions, held back by myths and misinformation.  Here are 3 common cloud computing myths, debunked:

1. Data in the cloud is vulnerable to hackers

Gaurav Pal of the SearchCloudComputing Advisory board cites security concerns as the top reason that businesses who have not yet migrated to the cloud are reluctant to do so.

In reality, all data is somewhat vulnerable to hackers, just like going to public places makes a person vulnerable to germs. However, most people don’t let fear of catching a cold turn them into agoraphobic shut-ins; instead, they take reasonable precautions and practice good hygiene. Similarly, security fears should not hold businesses back when it comes to taking advantage of the cloud.

2. Data in the cloud is not as readily available as on-site data

In today’s hyper-connected world, data stored in the cloud can be securely accessed from anywhere. Businesses need to be smart about evaluating their own access needs and carefully consider whether they are letting tradition and unfounded fears guide their thinking.

3. Cloud services are much more expensive than in-house IT

It is difficult to compare the cost savings of using on-demand cloud services compared to on-premises IT solutions because the traditional model is very different from the more elastic model of cloud computing.

In addition, costs such as facilities and power costs are easy to overlook. However, most companies will actually save money by migrating to the cloud.

Ready to learn more about how cloud computing can help your business thrive?  Please contact us.

According to a recent article from Health IT Security, the 2016 shooting at an Orlando nightclub prompted Office for Civil Rights to release a clarification on aspects of the Patient Health Information disclosure as it relates to a patient’s loved ones. The office cited Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriages and stated that the provisions are not limited by the sex and gender identity of a person when it comes to the determination of who is, by law, considered a family member.

The PHI disclosure in the HIPAA privacy rule allows a patient’s health status to be shared by covered entities with an individual’s family member, other relative, or close personal friend as it relates to that person’s ability to act on behalf of the patient in making decisions regarding healthcare, if that person is directly involved in the patient’s care or payment of that care. The clarification states that it left to the covered entity’s professional judgement to decide if the disclosure is proper or not, and recommends that — whenever possible — the covered entity should attempt to get verbal direction from the patient regarding PHI disclosure.

As you well know, HIPAA compliance is about more than who one can disclose patient information to. It is also about safeguarding the information about your patients or clients that you store within your data and data centers. Our Senior Solutions Consultants are ready to work with you on developing a solution that includes firewalls, encryption tools, and processes to help you prevent security risks. For more information, contact us.

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