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    Cloud Computing, Virtualization Can Tackle Healthcare Data Security Concerns

    Most companies have found that digitizing their networks has produced enormous benefits, particularly with regard to implementing cloud computing and mobile solutions. Healthcare organizations may be adopting these technologies at a slower pace, but those that have are enjoying similar advantages, according to a recent Level 3 Communications study.

    “The expansion of network infrastructure that we anticipate will allow healthcare organizations to store massive amounts of patient information securely,” said Karl Strohmeyer, Level 3 group vice president. “Providers can access digitized information from any location in real time, ultimately resulting in substantial efficiencies in patient care.”

    Healthcare agencies are required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to implement electronic health record (EHR) systems by 2015, a deadline that nearly 80 percent of organizations believe they won’t have trouble meeting. In addition, more than 60 percent of respondents feel as though EHR requirements are a good idea.

    Security issues need to be addressed
    Bring your own device (BYOD) may have been slower to catch on among healthcare firms, but recent reports have indicated that the industry is quickly catching up. However, because these organizations are responsible for protecting extremely sensitive information, health IT departments have some concerns about moving their infrastructures online.

    “Patient privacy and the security of health records are weighing on the minds of healthcare CIOs,” Strohmeyer said. “As more and more healthcare-related information is digitized and shared remotely, the need for secure networks and services to protect this data will continue to grow.”

    In a recent blog post for Health IT Security, Bill Kleyman, virtualization architect at MTM Technologies, suggested that virtual cloud computing can offer effective data security, particularly as employees continue to use personal laptops, tablets and smartphones to access the network. One of the keys to managing BYOD is providing a quality end-user experience, which, according to Kleyman, the virtual cloud can accomplish in a variety of ways:

    - User virtualization: This allows users to maintain identical settings across different devices and operating systems. As recent studies have found, the more familiar workers are with their devices, the less likely they will be to make mistakes.

    - Data accessibility: Because virtualization can accommodate multiple operating systems simultaneously, it usually provides employees access to data from anywhere and at anytime.

    - BYOD: The virtual cloud is ideal for companies that have to manage a variety of devices and operating systems, because it offers IT professionals complete control over their networks and data while barely affecting the end-user experience.