Post — 10 Min Read

WARNING: AI & Cloud Storage Can Be Bad For Your Healthcare

By 2020, healthcare data collection is projected to double every 73 days. The International Data Corporation predicts a healthcare data compound annual growth rate of 36 % up to 2025.

Improvements in the handling of data for public and private institutions and businesses are moving at an exponential rate while paper records, internal servers and siloed storage facilities are becoming a relic of the past.

What could possibly go wrong?

The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) is a regulation set out in EU law on data protection and privacy for all EU & EEA citizens. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside of the EU & EEA. This regulation sets in stone the standard of security protection required from businesses, institutions, governments etc. when managing data belonging to service users, customers, and citizens.

The healthcare sector is falling behind Fintech, Government and Pharma and other sectors when it comes to moving data storage into the 21st century.

In healthcare, information transfer and speedy delivery of data can be life-changing and lifesaving. Time-sensitive decision making can be the difference between a successful treatment outcome or continued ill-health for an individual. The current standard of healthcare data management is a combination of online and offline hard storage, including paper records which still exist in storage facilities. Where electronic medical records already exist, there remains problems in transferring these safely and securely between healthcare providers.

A 2017 Reuters Health study found less than one in three hospitals in the United States capable of finding, sending and receiving electronic medical records for patients who have moved from a different healthcare provider.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom is even further behind the United States healthcare system for online/computerised record keeping. The NHS was set a target by the UK parliament to have electronic medical records across the United Kingdom by 2020. Prior attempts over the decade beginning in 2002 were unsuccessful and eventually abandoned in 2011 as costs far exceeded intended budgets and long delays were caused by a lack of cohesion between healthcare institutions across the UK.

One of the main barriers to the transfer of healthcare records and data to a cloud-based storage system is trust (or lack thereof) by individuals and medical professionals in the companies and products that provide IT security, cloud storage and Artificial Intelligent (AI) systems. These systems are fundamental to improve patient treatment and the overall experience. GDPR aims to increase transparency to step up the levels of trust for individuals and institutions around personal data privacy and AI profiling.


GDPR provides for greater control and clarity of data collected but how will it be used and what it is for? 

GDPR delivers rights to individuals to control how their personal data is used, including the right to have their data deleted or transferred.  

Where AI profiling in healthcare (the practice of automatic processing of data to evaluate, analyse and predict an individual’s health ) is permitted GDPR requires it to be properly explained in all privacy notifications, including the rationale for its utilisation. This allows individuals and healthcare professionals more control and a better understanding of the significance of AI in a healthcare setting.  

Profiling under GDPR is not permitted without clear consent from individual subjects. Organisations and healthcare professionals must also ensure that AI profiling will not be allowed to make healthcare decisions alone, instead ensuring it is used to support human consideration to ensure full compliance with laws and regulations.

What is the Solution?

Shifting all data to a single cloud facility is not necessarily the definitive answer that healthcare services require. Indeed, a hybrid multi-layered model is most likely to be the best solution, with a mix of private and public cloud systems depending on the level of data retention or interaction required. This multi-layered approach offers the greatest flexibility going forward and eliminates fragmented migration to one single cloud, slowing down a healthcare system entirely during the crossover.  

The downside to this approach is the potential difficulty in determining where the information a healthcare provider is looking for is stored. In order to avoid this, healthcare systems such as the NHS in the UK or the HSE in Ireland will require intensive training for their staff and reliable, intelligent data retention guidelines to ensure data is saved correctly and securely. 

This is why skilled personnel with a robust set of migration protocols must be in place ahead of any migration.

Looking to the Future

Healthcare Providers cannot afford to delay the integration of Cloud Storage and AI any longer. The world population is soaring at an exponential rate, life expectancy averages are rising and health care systems around the world are coming under increasing pressure due to the sheer volume of data that they are required to store. Investment in AI and the cloud will allow hospitals and healthcare providers to treat their patients with the highest level of care as long as it is implemented in the correct manner, and with a unified approach across the entire health care system.