Storing data in the cloud…yes or no for therapists?

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We’re often asked whether therapists should use cloud storage services such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
 
Now – if you haven’t a clue what we’re talking about, don’t worry. The cloud is relatively new, but has transformed computing. Essentially, it refers to a new way of handling traditional business processes, using the internet. Businesses are using it for all sorts of things, such as managing their accounts, running their diary and sharing large files.
There’s an article all about the ‘cloud’ on the Private Practice Hub.
Back to Google Drive and Dropbox. These are cloud-based services where you can store all your documents, including photos, videos, and so on. You can access and make changes to your documents from any computer and any mobile device, simply by logging in. You get 5GB of space free with Google Drive and 2GB of space free with Dropbox.
Sounds good? Or are you still unsure? Here’s how it could help…
Are you always emailing documents to yourself? Or do you regularly email documents to colleagues or employees? Do you find that you have several copies of the same file at any one time, and you’re not sure which one is the most recent?
Services such as these are great if you want to share your files with others without having to email them, so that only one copy exists. It’s also the perfect solution if you use different computers but want to access the same documents – for example if you work both at home and in an office, using a different computer in each.
But should therapists be using it?
As therapists, there are issues of data protection and client confidentiality to consider. Certainly at our own busy practice, when we first started looking into storing data in the cloud, we were wary. However, cloud based systems could actually improve the security of your data. Here’s why…
 

  • cloud based services use sophisticated encryption methods to protect against hacking
  • they eliminate the need to email files, which is an unsecure method of data sharing
  • there’s no longer the risk of data being compromised if your computer or back up drive is lost or stolen – as long as you don’t ask the service to ‘remember’ your password
  • files are no longer duplicated by being copied onto several different computers and devices
  • you can give other people permission to view the files (by sharing), but can revoke that permission at any time

What are your thoughts? Do you use cloud based services for storing your documents? Or do you have serious concerns? Let us know below.