Cloud

NHS: Hospitals can now store sensitive patient data in public cloud, here's how

NHS Digital highlights the benefits of using the cloud for health records, including cost savings and comprehensive backup and system recovery.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • The UK's National Health Service offered guidance for hospitals and social care organizations to move healthcare data to the cloud.
  • Cloud storage for medical records offers several benefits, including cost savings and comprehensive backup abilities.

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has given the green light for hospitals and social care agencies to move healthcare data to the public cloud. A report issued by NHS Digital offers guidance on how to safely move sensitive information to the cloud, and assess the risks involved.

Allowing data from the NHS to be stored in the cloud is a major vote of confidence in the technology from one of the world's largest organizations, as our sister site ZDNet noted.

"NHS and social care organisations can safely put health and care data, including non-personal data and confidential patient information, into the public cloud," the report stated. "Many NHS organisations and government departments have already made this decision based on risk management assessments and having put appropriate safeguards in place."

SEE: Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)

The report highlights the benefits of cloud storage for medical records, including the cost savings on hardware and software, and the comprehensive backup and fast system recovery time. "Together these features cut the risk of health information not being available due to local hardware failure," the report noted.

However, NHS Digital also noted the downsides that may come with cloud storage, including reliance on internet access, budgeting changes, and the need to bring in outside experts to help with implementation.

The UK government implemented a "cloud first" policy for public sector IT back in 2013, the guidance said. Services such as NHS Choices and NHS England's Code4Health project are already successfully using the cloud, ZDNet noted.

NHS Digital said that NHS and social care organizations can host data within the UK, EEA, or the US.

The move to the cloud and availability of backups may help better protect the NHS from incidents such as WannaCry, the ransomware attack that brought down health systems across the country last year.

"It is for individual organisations to decide if they wish to use cloud and data offshoring but there are a huge range of benefits in doing so, such as greater data security protection and reduced running costs when implemented effectively," Rob Shaw, deputy chief executive at NHS Digital, said in a press release. "The guidance being published today will give greater clarity about how these technologies can be used and how data, including confidential patient information, can be securely managed."

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Image: iStockphoto/BackyardProduction

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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