Are you hearing a lot of this from your executive team? "Let's move to the cloud." "Are we in the cloud?" "Get in the cloud." Or maybe you're saying it yourself.

There's a lot of talk in healthcare these days about "the cloud," and many healthcare executives wonder if getting in the cloud is something that can make their websites safer and smarter. Far from the dreamy visuals fluffy white masses might generate, moving to the cloud is serious business for hospitals and healthcare organizations and can make big improvements to website functioning and performance.

Kristin Judge, director of government affairs at the National Cyber Security Alliance, says it helps to know what the cloud really is. “It just means you have the storage of your data somewhere other than on-site," Judge says. It is as simple and as complicated as that--because if your data isn't stored on site and managed by your trusted employees, how can that help your business?

Cloud hosting data holds great benefits, like ease of use as information can be accessed from virtually anywhere. Moving your information and locally served technology to a cloud hosting platform can also bring about great improvements in both your web presence and web performance. Cloud hosting vendors often have access to more capabilities and tools that can improve how data is used and manipulated on your website. Your web presence gets a boost from the more professional look and feel of your overall site, and the increased storage options in the cloud can increase the speed of your website, making it easier to use and upping the overall performance. Google even factors in performance speed to its algorithms. But finding the right provider to partner with your organization is essential, especially in healthcare when security and privacy are top concerns, so you have to do your homework if you want real results.

As your organization grows and gathers more patient and consumer data, serves more people, and implements new services and technologies, cloud hosting gives you flexibility while offering top-notch professional services to keep your information safe.

Here are five ways cloud hosting can help improve your hospital's website.

1. Providing Data Security

First and foremost, healthcare information must be protected, private, and under control. While health systems have their own information to keep secure, there is also the added layer of protecting the information of all the patients in the system. And because companies are responsible (not the service provider they choose) for the data entrusted to them, Judge says companies must have a lot of confidence and trust in any vendor.

“Cloud hosting is outsourcing your data security to the professionals," says Judge, “so it's important to use the right cloud provider." According to Judge, it's essential to choose a reliable and reputable cloud hosting service provider who is familiar with the industry and any specific security concerns. Healthcare organizations need a provider who is well versed in HIPPA regulations and security requirements.

Ask the provider specific and targeted questions about where and how the data is stored, how it's protected, and make sure any signed contract spells out all the details. Once the information is in the cloud, it's secure, but the vulnerable points continue to be when the data is moving, in use, or in storage. The best way to mitigate any of these concerns is to educate employees on safe access.

2. It Grows with Your Company

As your organization continues to grow and your technology needs updating, cloud hosting keeps pace without a big outlay of hours or budget. You are enlisting help from pros who are constantly working on data challenges or with new software and are doing the same thing for many companies. They are the experts, so you won't have to train (and retrain) your employees each time you want a new service or need an upgrade. With so much expertise at your disposal, the possibilities are expanded by your provider.

3. Access to Cutting-Edge Technology

When your information is hosted off-site, the company taking care of the information is hooked into the latest technology and advancements. Their business is cloud hosting, and that's all they do. That means their staff and time is dedicated to making their customers happy by improving performance. You might not have resources dedicated to investigating what's going to make your data more secure or how to implement new services, but they will. And you'll have the advantage of getting it right away.

4. Keeping Costs Under Control

As the industry grows, more cloud hosting services are working with companies and corporations to let them choose the services they need without adding on unnecessary extras. This menu style of choosing lets you spend money where you need it. In the end, the cost effectiveness of using cloud hosting services targeted for your healthcare organization's needs is essential to making your website work optimally.

5. Offering a Better User Experience

Cloud providers use different servers for different tasks because they have access to so much equipment. Since you don't have to rely on just one or two pieces of equipment, there's less delay when a lot is happening at once. If your customers are trying to fill out forms or you need to run a report, the process goes faster if your services are hosted in the cloud.

In the end, a better user experience builds up the trust that's so essential for healthcare organizations. Customers who don't get mired in waiting for pages to load or process and who are confident their information is secure are happier customers.

So while cloud hosting doesn't offer you the otherworldly experience the name implies, it can give your organization enhanced security and lead to much better web functionality and presence.

Want to learn more about implementing a cloud-based website and providing incredible digital experiences for your consumers? Download our white paper on Healthcare Digital Experience Management.