The storage of healthcare data in the cloud has been a hot topic in our conversation with customers and industry partners recently, and up until last week there seemed to be a lot of disagreement on the subject. Even though European as well as local legislation provides insights into what is and what is not allowed, the general idea in people’s minds is that healthcare data should be stored in the country it originates from and should under no circumstances be transferred outside its borders. As a result, many organisations are only looking at local cloud-hosted solutions, which limits them from reaping the true benefits of what the cloud has to offer.
Last week, NHS Digital published some guidance describing how NHS organisations should handle offshoring of data and cloud computing for health and social care. One of the main conclusions of this guidance was that data off-shoring is allowed as long as cloud service providers are based in the European Economic Area (EEA), or in countries deemed adequate by the EU, or in the US where it is covered by the Privacy Shield. The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has contributed to this subject by providing very specific guidelines for organisations within the countries it covers when it comes to storing privacy-sensitive data. More information on the Privacy Shield and the GDPR can be found via the links below.
Being able to choose cloud service providers outside their country of origin (for example the UK) has several advantages for organisations, as it widens the selection pool which in turn provides more choice when comparing costs, availability, resilience and service levels. It also allows organisations to include large-scale cloud service providers like Google, Microsoft or AWS, which can be a great advantage in terms of cost reduction, high availability, multi-region deployment, and most of all extensive experience in hosting cloud solutions in general.
When we started to implement our SpeechReport platform as a cloud service, we conducted extensive research and determined that the Microsoft Azure Cloud was the best fit. It is currently hosted in Ireland due to the central location and availability of the Azure resources we required to build our cloud platform. In view of the GDPR as well as the recommendations published by NHS Digital, our cloud-hosted SpeechReport platform is a perfect fit for all organisations, whether they are NHS Trusts, private healthcare providers, law firms or government organisations.
We have a good reputation to uphold, which means we take great care when it comes to our customers and the software solutions we provide them with. If you are interested to learn more about our cloud offering, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we will make sure to provide you with the information you require.
This article is written by our Product Manager, Mark Godthelp.