Despite some of the recent scares with security, the health-care industry is having a data explosion that is continuing to grow. With the future expectation of access to health data on demand, the storage and retrieval will continue to push both data centers and online security providers. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health act (HITECH) offers incentives the use of electronic health records and partly as a simulus package. This meant creating and storing digital records but also using the records in a meaningful way such as coordination of care.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was introduced to allow people to keep their health insurance as they transferred jobs regardless of pre-existing conditions. Also included was the idea of Protected Health Information (PHI): information related to health status, payment and other sensitive data. For data centers and their managers, this is digital information that needed to be protected in the appropriate way as more records went online. This became even more important when in 2015 medical facilities were penalized through Medicare for not providing electronic records.
To support the new needs data center operations began ramping up to support health-care providers in four key ways: storage; access; encryption; and backup and recovery. Along with each are periodic testing to ensure that there are no gaps in service so that data is not lost or fall into the wrong hands.
As the digital records grow, this can provide a great value to the individual when coupled with other means of tracking one’s health, such as with wearable devices and other medical tracking to provide trending and other clear signals. Ths may seem cumbersome as both the individual and the health-care provider need the storage. But when coupled with smart technology and algorithms to reduce complications and errors the advantages can be life changing. Big data analytics and research can be used more readily to push out information to the relevant audience as well as provide sources for more reliable data.
For data centers, growth may be hard to predict as regulations and trends in data privacy change. At worst the growth may plateau; at best it may surge forward faster than anticipated and leaving individuals and providers with a lack of a secure means to save and retrieve their data.