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Philips and Amazon team up on cloud-based health record storage system

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
Philips and Amazon have teamed up to develop a HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solution for high-speed medical record access and recovery in the event of catastrophic events such as hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and equipment failure. The companies hope their solution will also mitigate in-house storage challenges relating to huge imaging data file size, cost, interoperability, and regulatory compliance.

And as last week's LA hospital hacker ransom illustrated, the threat of ransomware — when hackers hold health information hostage — can now be added to a growing list of hospital data threats that need to be addressed.

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“Data recovery and business continuity represent a formidable challenge for hospitals and health care systems,” Dale Wiggins, general manager of Philips HealthSuite (digital platform) told HCB News.

He contrasted the advantages of the cloud-based solution in development with traditional on-premise data recovery systems, which Wiggins said “place the burden of building and maintaining the solution on the customer and requires significant capital investment.”

Wiggins said their partnership with Amazon will offer a Cloud service that is “really fast.” The new Amazon Web Storage solution will offer bulk transfer repository time of up to hundreds of terabytes over a couple of days, which compares very favorably with common in-house back-ups, which may take hundreds of days to process the same quantity of data.

According to Wiggins, they are currently selecting customer hospitals to serve as beta sites. The service will use the Philip’s HealthSuite digital platform to provide the transfer to Amazon Web Services.

“Our rapid health data recovery service can manage any type of hospital data, ranging from imaging data to genomics, to electronic medical records, irrespective of source, type or format,” said Wiggins, calling it vendor-neutral in terms of the data.

He added that the service will be able to move large quantities of encrypted files using military grade transport devices. While the service itself does not protect a hospital enterprise from hackers, Wiggins stressed it will provide the opportunity to reinstall data very quickly after any disruptive event.

“Hospital data is often fragmented across the facility, making the transfer of data to remote back-up services - even via high-speed line broadband connection prohibitively time consuming and expensive,” explained Wiggins. “Because of these limitation, many health care organizations currently rely on local backup servers directly connected to their internal network that do not guarantee recoverability of the data.” This back-up design, he noted, can also be expensive.

In a statement, Bill Vass, vice president of Amazon Storage Solutions, said: “We’re excited to bring the value of the cloud to even more health care organizations in collaboration with Philips...[clients] will be able to securely and reliably back up their data...”.

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