March 8, 2017

3 Considerations for Selecting a HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Hosting Partner


Hostway Team

You're working in the healthcare space, and you want to enjoy the benefits of cloud hosting, but you have concerns about how to do so while adhering to strict compliance standards.

At the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference held recently in Orlando, the Hostway team visited with numerous IT leaders from organizations of all shapes and sizes - ranging from large SaaS providers and hospital networks to small privately run hospitals and healthcare solutions providers.
Reflecting back on this year’s event, three things became very clear:

  • Cloud hosting can improve healthcare organizations' operational efficiency, and it is a competitive necessity.
  • Compliance requirements are driving a measured approach to cloud adoption.
  • Many IT leaders currently running legacy infrastructure are unsure about the best way to migrate to the cloud.

The good news is that it's possible to “have your cake and eat it, too.” It’s just a matter of selecting the right cloud hosting partner.

HIPAA Compliance Expertise

Designing a fully compliant cloud hosting solution that effectively mitigates migration risks can be complicated. Compounding the challenge, many healthcare organizations don’t have the internal resources or expertise to design, deploy and manage a HIPAA-compliant solution.
A cloud hosting provider with deep expertise in HIPAA compliance will:

  • Guide you through the entire set of applicable HIPAA requirements, providing direction on which requirements are the responsibility of the provider and which are the responsibility of the covered entity.
  • Sign a direct business associate agreement (BAA) that mitigates risk for the covered entity. A BAA is also a HIPAA requirement when receiving, transmitting or maintaining electronic protected health information (ePHI) via a cloud hosting provider.
  • Deliver the infrastructure and documented processes necessary to design and operate a solution that meets strict HIPAA requirements.


Managed Services Portfolio

Many IT leaders we spoke with at HIMSS were apprehensive about carrying out a complex migration from legacy infrastructure to the cloud. It may be an apprehension you have, as well.
Fortunately, a number of experienced cloud hosting providers offer cloud migration services designed to walk you through the entire process – from initial planning and application audits, all the way to completing the actual migration. This service is especially helpful for organizations with limited in-house IT resources and compliance expertise.
Once your solution is up and running, it’s important to be able to identify and resolve issues quickly. Partnering with a managed service provider will give you 24x7 access to a team of support specialists who can quickly fix any issues that occur. Proactive monitoring services provide additional peace of mind by identifying and remediating issues before they escalate.
Note that while hyperscale public cloud providers (Amazon, Google and Microsoft) offer numerous features and near-infinite scalability, they all rely on service providers like Hostway to provide managed support.

Infrastructure Options

When designing a HIPAA-compliant solution, it’s important to consider the requirements of the individual applications, as well as those put forth by HIPAA.
For example, applications that must support highly variable, spikey loads are often best suited for a public cloud platform. Public clouds also tend to work well for extremely automated, infrastructure-aware applications and Dev Ops processes.
On the other hand, high IOPS databases and applications requiring the highest levels of security are typically best suited for a dedicated server or private cloud (single-tenant resources). Applications that support predictable loads or require a very specific configuration are also great candidates for a dedicated environment.
In order to meet HIPAA requirements, the solution will also likely include a number of security and compliance features (firewall, web application firewall (WAF), log management, DDos prevention, etc).
The good news is that it’s possible to build a HIPAA-compliant solution using either public or private/dedicated resources. Working with an experienced managed services provider, such as Hostway, with a broad portfolio of cloud-based resources, will allow you to build the best solution for your unique requirements.

Ready to Choose?

Hostway is a HIPAA-compliant service provider. We offer a broad range of HIPAA-compliant solutions, powered by our highly secure hybrid cloud infrastructure. Unlike some managed service providers that defer to a public cloud partner to sign the BAA, all of our HIPAA-compliant solutions are backed by a BAA signed by Hostway.

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