5 Questions to Ask When Deciding between Hosted or On-Premises Data Archiving

There are many benefits of switching to cloud-based patient data archiving. The question is whether cloud is a good fit for your healthcare organization.

Some hospitals and medical practices use their own onsite servers and equipment for data storage. Others contract with a trusted partner to provide off-site hosting in a secure environment. It is important to weigh the options and determine which archive deployment solution best meets your needs.

Here are 5 questions to answer when evaluating off-site hosted vs. on-premises EMR archiving:

  1. Do we currently have the technology infrastructure required for an on-premises data archive? If you elect an on-premises archive deployment, you must provide the equipment, redundant power, cooling, threat protection, vulnerability scanning and physically-secured location for data storage in your facility. If you already own high-availability, high-compute, load-balancing server equipment and have the technical expertise on staff to support it, then an on-premises archive deployment may be the best choice for you. Based on the type and amount of data you’ll be archiving, check with your health data system consulting partner to determine the recommended equipment sizing and performance needed for scalable and optimized on-premises archive hosting.
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  3. What is our current internet bandwidth and network stability? Access to remotely hosted archives requires appropriate internet bandwidth and processing speeds for users to easily access records in a timely manner. It is also important to consider, monitor and manage the number of users who will access and query the archive at any one time. For smaller provider practices utilizing a lower bandwidth DSL connection for daily business needs, there may be slowness accessing archived data depending on the total number of simultaneous users. A cloud-hosted archive may prove to be the best solution in that scenario so that response times when searching for archived patient data are quick. Larger facilities with high-availability network topology may be suited to handle the demands of on-premises hosting. If you are considering an archive solution and have bandwidth concerns, look for providers that render the data on their cloud which will limit the bandwidth usage to only presenting the completed inquiry.
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  5. Does my IT staff have the expertise and time to set up and maintain the archive? If you use a remote hosting service for archive deployment, then your staff is not responsible for setting up servers, troubleshooting performance issues, performing application maintenance, or managing and responding to threat detection. For on-premises hosting, your IT staff must ensure that the technical infrastructure is maintained and monitored for the archive, that all users have access, that hi-speed network connectivity is available and that computing power is scaled to support demand as user counts and archive projects increase over time. It is also essential that your facility has a failover backup and recovery strategy in place in case a restore is ever required. If considering a hosting service, ask questions regarding their redundancy, security, and backup procedures. Medical practices and facilities with experienced IT staff may find that an on-premises archive solution makes the most sense while health organizations with leaner staffing may find that a hosted archive is their best option for secure and scalable archive deployment and management.
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  7. How secure are other software solutions at our organization that are hosted or on-premises? It is common to follow your facility’s current position regarding hosting vs on-premises software solutions. If you are already using hosting services for other software and data platforms that manage PHI, then a hosting service may naturally be the right fit for your health data archive. If your organization is not using cloud-hosted solutions, find out why. With industry-standard privacy and security frameworks such as HIPAA and HITRUST available as a part of the hosting package to protect PHI, remote hosting with the right partner often offers more security than a local environment. Find out whether your local environment offers next generation firewalls, antivirus protection with advanced threat analysis, whitelisting, intrusion management detection, micro segmentation, and industry-standard encryption of data at rest and in transit.
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  9. What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for both options? Cost is an important consideration and should be weighed carefully. With on-premises hosting, facilities will likely have more upfront costs in regard to equipment and technology while those using a remote hosting service will ultimately take on higher – yet predictable – recurring service fees. In some situations, the cost breakdown is roughly equal regardless of the path chosen while in others there is a significant difference. Compare all costs associated with both options over the length of your required record retention requirements to determine if one route makes more financial sense than the other. Be sure to consider labor costs for patch management and downtime for application upgrades as a part of the cost calculations.

Ready to talk hosting?
Our team at Harmony Healthcare IT, ranked #1 in the category of data archiving by KLAS Research, helps healthcare providers consolidate data stores by decommissioning legacy EMR, HR and other administrative systems and securely retain patient, employee and business records across the healthcare enterprise. HealthData Archiver®, our long-term data storage solution, delivers a single point of access to maintain retention and compliance in a secure and searchable format.

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Note: Content has been updated from a blog that originally posted Jan. 15, 2015.

Nov 05 2020

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