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Cloud Technology In Health Care System
Technology is one of the best things that have been introduced in healthcare. This innovation has made the acquisition of services easier and faster. Cloud technology is a type of innovation where servers are located online. This technology has improved the performance of the healthcare sector through enhancing access to medical services and the ability to store great amounts of data regarding a patient that can be accessed immediately to make a comprehensive diagnosis. With cloud technology, people who cannot access hospitals personally are now able to acquire consultation services from standby doctors. However, a few challenges face cloud services, for example, security issues, but it is evident that more and more hospitals embrace this technology.
Technology evolves continuously, and people become more and more dependent on it. Innovations are presented every day to make human work easier in every sector. Industries and businesses have utilized technology to maximize their profits and to serve their customers in an efficient way. In the healthcare industry, various machines and instruments have made the care process very efficient. In the same way, cloud technology has slowly moved into the healthcare sector, making patient care efficient, the storage of patient information easier while also promoting faster and easier access to standby doctors.
Network Technology that Supports the Cloud
Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network type that typically connects various LANs in a country or region. One example of a WAN is the internet (Revenga Betancourth, 2016). WAN makes it possible for the residents of a region or even an entire country to interact with each other. Its major characteristics are as follows. WAN ensures a connection to multiple computers as well as to devices that are far apart, unlike in the case of a LAN. Furthermore, it is typically a multiple interconnection of various LANs, and the communication links in a WAN are provided by telephone networks and satellites. The links in a WAN are of low capacity, and the network produces a bit error rate higher than that of LAN (Revenga Betancourth, 2016). Comparing WAN to LAN, one can see that the data transfer rates are low in WAN and the signal propagation rate delay is also higher than that of LAN.
A Local Area Network (LAN) presupposes a connection of several devices. They could include computers and printers. LAN has the following peculiarities. This network covers a limited geographical range, its speed is high in data transfer rates, and it provides full-time connections to the local services. Finally, it is more affordable than WAN is since it serves users at lower costs (Revenga Betancourth, 2016). At the same time, this network's primary transmission medium is cabling. Therefore, a comparison between WAN and LAN indicates that the latter has a higher speed and it can be more reliable only between devices that are within one geographical location.
Types of Hosting: Cloud vs. In-house
Many differences can be found between a cloud server and an in-house server. For instance, if a company decides to use a cloud server, there is no need for including expenses for hardware and infrastructure, whereas an in-house server requires capital investment in hardware and infrastructure. A cloud server is suitable for growing companies that cannot be accommodated by their existing infrastructure (Sears, 2014). Such servers are easily scalable. This means that they can be expanded anytime according to the needs of the organization. On the other hand, in-house servers are not scalable quickly if demand arises. Expanding them can take much time since it will be necessary to install other servers in an existing space manually.
Data can be backed onto the servers every few minutes in the case of cloud servers, which can minimize the chances of data losses if a disaster occurs. At the same time, in-house servers present a high risk of data loss in case something drastic happens. However, a threat can also arise when data is stored on online servers since they can be accessed by a third party (Sears, 2014). In-house servers keep any critical data in-house and in a hardware form, thus making it impossible for a third party to access it. Another disadvantage is that if the internet connection is down, individuals accessing cloud servers will be unable to view their data, whereas in-house servers do not require an internet connection in order to access data.
Institutions and organizations that depend on uptime can only make use of the cloud servers. In-house servers have no guaranteed uptime (Sears, 2014). At the same time, the users of cloud servers can connect and access data from anywhere unlike those using in-house ones. Cloud server costs can outweigh the benefits of an organization if the organization utilizing them is not uptime-dependent. Thus, they are recommended for use by those organizations that utilize the internet the most so that they could maximize their profits.
Cloud Technology in Healthcare
Cloud Electronic Health Records and Medical Records have been incorporated into use in the healthcare field. These systems involve safeguarding patients' information online. Thus, patients data, disease prognosis, medication regimens, and imaging data are stored in online cloud servers (Sultan, 2014). This data can be accessed by the authorized personnel, and patients can access treatment in more than one hospital since their information and prognosis can be accessed by doctors. Such remote access to patient data has facilitated care improvement in critical instances since all information is available instantaneously.
Incorporating cloud technology in healthcare has enabled a better reach to patients, especially in times of disaster. In the instances where disaster strikes, some patients cannot access healthcare facilities in advanced hospitals or in the hospitals they used to attend, which leaves them with the only choice of accessing the hospitals near them. With cloud technology, an on-site doctor can have access to real-time guidance and they will be able to perform surgery even if they have little experience (Sultan, 2014). Thus, the use of modern technologies has increased the number of lives saved during disasters.
Cloud technology has also provided an opportunity in healthcare for the storage of data at lower costs. This has enabled small hospitals to have access to the data they need to offer quality services (Sultan, 2014). This technology has also enabled doctors to use big data in the treatment of patients. Thus, healthcare workers can now use this information to analyze the facts and make an accurate assessment of the condition of the patient (Kuo, 2011). This technology has also facilitated remote care. New smartphone applications have been developed to monitor a patient's condition and update their healthcare provider about their progress (Doukas, Pliakas. & Maglogiannis, 2010). The technology has made it possible for those people who dislike visiting the hospitals to have consultation services from standby doctors.
Nevertheless, one disadvantage that has compromised cloud computing is the chance of breach in the technology. A patient's data is very sensitive, and handing it over to a third party can be a very big risk. With the current security breaches, it is possible for the information in cloud servers to be hacked (Kuo, 2011). However, this issue has been investigated, and experts have developed encryption ways to safeguard information in a way that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties. Thus, only hospitals that utilize encryption services benefit from it.
Internal Network (VPN) in Healthcare
A virtual private network (VPN) is a devised way for a person to access the internet servers while protecting their privacy and maintaining anonymity. Such networks have been used in many corporate organizations as a means to guard private information against intruders who seek to obtain their data illegally. In healthcare, VPN enables the users of the hospital network to browse freely without the risk of a security breach of the system's data (Zieger, 2016). Thus, it safeguards the identity of the user and helps protect the patient's files from being seen by unauthorized individuals. This enhanced security can be attributed to the fact that VPN creates an internal network instead of allowing to browse from the internet servers directly. This reduces the chances of a hacker gaining access to important information.
Another importance of VPN to healthcare is the reduction of online operational costs for hospitals, which gives hospital budgets a relief. Not only does VPN provide a safe network for browsing but it also supplies a cheaper means to keep the institution connected and secured from intrusion (Zieger, 2016). When comparing the costs to the scale of use of the network, one can say that VPN is definitely consumer-friendly. Thousands of people can connect to this network at the same time without interfering with the efficiency of its system. This feature has made data sharing easy and faster as groups of people can easily send files to each other even at critical moments with success.
However, the use of VPN is not without faults in the hospital setup. Challenges, which arise during the use of this network, might threaten to compromise the quality of care a patient receives. This kind of network involves the local network and the external network going through the same line, thus making it slow (Zieger, 2016). Therefore, it could take more than 6 minutes to log into such a crowded network, which will not provide the required aid in an emergency setup.
Risks Associated with Using Cloud and Its Future Trend
Cloud-based services pose an increased risk to the privacy and confidentiality of patients. This risk emerges because these services act as vendors for many more companies and aggregate great amounts of data, which makes these servers targets for intruders (Kuo, 2011). The value of every single business increases the value of the cloud, and this makes it a desirable target of very high value. Consequently, the server becomes more susceptible to malware and hackers, hence putting confidential patient information at risk of being accessed by unauthorized people.
Mistakes could happen in the chain of work during the aggregation of data by the workers of the cloud services that handle a hospital's records. In this chain, many variables emerge that the security measures of the hospital have no control over. An example of such a variable is the behavior of an employee working with these files (Kuo, 2011). This worker could decide to leak confidential records to other users without authorization and intentionally. This scenario puts at risk the records of the patients to the scrutiny from the public, thus causing a reduced trust in doctor-patient relations.
Cloud technology has high chances of being embraced into most sectors of any country's economy in the future. Despite all these shortcomings, cloud services have been able to provide relative safety for patient records. There is an increasing need for hospitals to turn towards using these services because of the massive amount of data that needs to be analyzed and stored by these hospitals (Sultan, 2014). Moreover, cloud-based service evolves into a global one for data confidentiality because of increased instances of intruders attempting to hack data in other various platforms. This type of service has made safeguarding information possible.
Cloud technology has facilitated numerous improvements in the healthcare sector. Thus, it has promoted better storage of patients' information, which has been utilized widely in the treatment of patients at any hospital. The technology has made it possible to access services without actually visiting the hospitals. However, cloud technology also has its shortcomings. Since information is stored on an online server, the risks of hacking and having access to patient information are increased. Experts have tried to resolve these problems through the use of encryption keys. This technology has also enhanced browsing anonymously within organizations, which has helped protect user information. Despite the few challenges, the future of cloud technology is bright in that more and more hospitals embrace it.
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