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Information Management May/June 2014 : Page 42

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC Balancing the Risks and Rewards of Cloud-Based Healthcare Information Rebecca N. Shwayri, J.D. W e are in the early stages of the electronic health re-cord (EHR) era. And while EHRs offer many benefits, their proliferation is presenting chal-lenges that some healthcare organi-zations are not equipped to handle. For example, storing, harvest-ing, and accessing EHRs on a regular basis require significant investments in technology and personnel. To mitigate these costs, many healthcare organizations use cloud vendors for these services, which has some inherent risks. Storing EHRs in the cloud is still a good option, though, if organiza-tions take the appropriate steps to mitigate these risks. Cloud Benefits and Risks The benefits and risks of out -sourcing EHRs to the cloud are both quantitative and qualitative. Benefits On the benefit side, using a cloud vendor can dramatically re-duce costs and enhance patient outcomes. First, by deploying a cloud solu-tion, the organization need not pay for hardware or the IT personnel that would be required to maintain EHRs onsite. In addition, a cloud option can be deployed to address an exponential increase in EHRs more quickly and cost-effectively than an onsite solution can be. Second, deploying a cloud solu -tion has the potential to enhance patient outcomes. When informa -42 MAY/JUNE 2014 INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

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