Azure Virtual Desktop vs. Remote Desktop

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With the increasing demand for virtual desktop and remote access solutions, organizations often decide between Azure Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Services (RDS).

While Azure Virtual Desktop offers a cloud-based platform that combines Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), RDS relies on Windows Server OS and lacks support for multi-session Windows 10.

This article aims to objectively analyze both solutions’ key features, infrastructure management, compatibility, scalability, and performance optimization aspects to assist organizations in making informed decisions.

Key Features of Azure Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Services

The key features of Azure Virtual Desktop include:

  • Simplified virtual desktop management
  • Support for multi-user Windows 10 and Windows Server VMs as Session Hosts
  • Providing the full Windows 10 experience for each user

In terms of user experience, Azure Virtual Desktop offers:

  • A seamless and consistent desktop experience across multiple devices
  • Secure remote access to virtualized desktops and applications
  • Ensuring data privacy and confidentiality

Security features such as:

  • Identity management
  • Encryption
  • Network isolation

Are integrated into the platform to protect against unauthorized access or data breaches.

When it comes to cost comparison, Azure Virtual Desktop provides:

  • Flexible pricing options based on usage and consumption
  • The ability to optimize costs by scaling resources up or down according to needs

Additionally, Azure Virtual Desktop offers various deployment options, including hybrid scenarios that allow integration with existing on-premises infrastructure.

In summary, the key features of Azure Virtual Desktop encompass:

  • Simplified virtual desktop management
  • Support for multi-user environments
  • Enhanced user experience through full Windows 10 functionality
  • Robust security features for data protection
  • Flexible cost optimization through scalable pricing models
  • Diverse deployment options, including hybrid scenarios for seamless integration with existing infrastructure.

Infrastructure Management

Regarding responsibility allocation between Microsoft and the service provider, infrastructure management in Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS differs. Here are the key differences:

Responsibility Allocation

In Azure Virtual Desktop, Microsoft manages the entire infrastructure, including server maintenance, security updates, and backups.
On the other hand, in RDS, the service provider is responsible for managing the infrastructure.

Cost Comparison

Due to Microsoft’s management of infrastructure in Azure Virtual Desktop, additional costs may be associated with using this service compared to RDS, where the service provider manages the infrastructure.

Security Features

With Azure Virtual Desktop, users benefit from Microsoft’s robust security features, such as multi-factor authentication and built-in threat protection.
However, in RDS, security measures depend on the service provider’s implementation.

User Experience and Integration Options

Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS offer a seamless user experience for remotely accessing virtual desktops and applications.
Additionally, they provide integration options with other Microsoft services like Azure Active Directory for user authentication.

While Azure Virtual Desktop offers a fully managed solution by Microsoft with advanced security features and deployment flexibility, RDS allows organizations to leverage their existing infrastructure managed by a third-party service provider, offering potential cost savings but limited control over infrastructure management.

Compatibility and Operating Systems

Compatibility and operating system support vary between Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS. Azure Virtual Desktop offers multi-session Windows 10 capabilities, allowing users to leverage the full Windows 10 experience in a multi-user environment. This enables multiple users to share a single virtual machine (VM), making it cost-effective and efficient for organizations.

On the other hand, RDS requires a Windows Server OS, which limits its compatibility with Windows 10. There are also limitations when running M365 Apps with Azure Virtual Desktop on Windows Server 2016, 2019, and 2022.

Therefore, organizations must consider their requirements for compatibility, multi-session support, and M365 Apps when choosing between Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS for their virtual desktop infrastructure needs.

Scalability and Performance Optimization

Scalability and performance optimization can be achieved differently in Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS due to their contrasting virtualization and infrastructure management approaches.

Load balancing techniques

Azure Virtual Desktop offers scale and load balancing through breadth and depth modes, allowing for efficient distribution of user sessions across multiple session hosts.

RDS, on the other hand, relies on traditional load-balancing methods implemented by the service provider.

Cost saving strategies

Azure Virtual Desktop’s multi-session Windows 10 capability enables resource consolidation, reducing the number of VMs required and resulting in potential cost savings.

RDS requires separate VMs for each user session, which may lead to higher infrastructure costs.

User experience

Both platforms aim to provide a seamless user experience, but Azure Virtual Desktop’s integration with Microsoft technologies ensures a more consistent Windows 10 experience for each user than RDS.

Resource allocation

Azure Virtual Desktop allows finer control over resource allocation by leveraging virtual machine scaling options based on demand patterns and workload requirements.

RDS provides limited flexibility in resource allocation as the service provider manages it.

Performance benchmarks should determine the optimal choice based on specific workload characteristics, user requirements, and cost considerations between Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS.

Benefits and Limitations

One important consideration when comparing Azure Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is their benefits and limitations.

Regarding compatibility issues, Azure Virtual Desktop allows users to share a VM running Windows 10 Enterprise, while RDS requires the use of the Windows Server OS. This difference may impact deployment options for organizations with specific operating system requirements. Additionally, Windows Server versions 2016, 2019, and 2022 do not support M365 Apps with Azure Virtual Desktop, which could be a limitation for organizations relying heavily on these applications.

Regarding cost comparison, Azure Virtual Desktop offers scale and load balancing through breadth and depth modes, allowing for cost-saving measures and performance optimization. On the other hand, RDS needs to provide this level of flexibility regarding scaling resources.

In terms of user experience, both Azure Virtual Desktop and RDS offer remote access to desktops and applications. However, Azure Virtual Desktop provides users with the whole Windows 10 experience, while RDS does not support multi-session Windows 10.

Regarding security features, both solutions offer secure remote desktop access. However, since Microsoft manages the entire infrastructure in Azure Virtual Desktop while service providers manage RDS infrastructure, there may be differences in security implementations.

When choosing Azure Virtual Desktop or Remote Desktop Services, organizations should carefully evaluate their compatibility requirements concerning operating systems and software applications. Cost considerations and user experience factors, such as full Windows 10 support versus multi-session limitations, should also be considered. Additionally, security features offered by each solution should be assessed based on organizational needs for data protection during remote access scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Azure Virtual Desktop Be Used With Windows Server Operating Systems?

Azure Virtual Desktop can be used with Windows Server operating systems. Licensing requirements, user access control, hardware requirements, network connectivity, and security considerations should be considered when deploying Windows Server OS in Azure Virtual Desktop environments.

How Does the Management of Infrastructure Differ Between Azure Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Services?

The management of infrastructure differs between Azure Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Services. Microsoft manages Azure Virtual Desktop in the Azure cloud, while the service provider manages the infrastructure for Remote Desktop Services.

What Are the Compatibility Limitations of Windows Server Versions With Azure Virtual Desktop?

The compatibility limitations of Windows Server versions with Azure Virtual Desktop include the lack of support for M365 Apps. This imposes restrictions on users who rely on specific Windows Server versions for their virtual desktop infrastructure management and limits the integration possibilities with Microsoft 365 applications.

How Does Azure Virtual Desktop Support Scalability and Performance Optimization Compared to Remote Desktop Services?

Azure Virtual Desktop supports scalability and performance optimization through resource allocation strategies, network bandwidth considerations, and load balancing capabilities. It offers breadth and depth modes for scale and load balancing, enabling cost-saving and improved performance compared to Remote Desktop Services.

Are There Any Limitations in Using Microsoft 365 Apps With Azure Virtual Desktop?

Limitations exist when using Microsoft 365 apps with Azure Virtual Desktop. Windows Server 2016, 2019, and 2022 do not support M365 Apps with Azure Virtual Desktop. Licensing requirements and cost considerations should be accounted for in cloud-based integration decisions.

And the winner is?

Azure Virtual Desktop’s comprehensive management options and multi-user Windows 10 experience support stand out. On the other hand, RDS is limited to Windows Server OS and requires service providers to manage the infrastructure. Despite their differences, both solutions offer virtual desktop and remote access solutions tailored to different needs in a technical, analytical, and strategic manner. Speak with a WheelHouse IT specialist today to determine which solution is right for your business.

How to Smoothly Migrate to the Cloud

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Migrating to the cloud can be an incredible investment for companies looking to optimize performance, improve efficiencies, and provide better customer experiences. Cloud migration can be a daunting task, and a successful migration takes careful planning and preparation. Just up and moving data without a strategy can cause technical, financial, and productivity issues. You need to understand your current systems and how moving to the cloud changes your organization and business models. These tips and tricks are here to help you make the migration process easy and efficient. 

Select a Migration Strategy

Before you move to a cloud solution, you want to evaluate your current infrastructure to understand how migration impacts it. You want to determine how applications and data are stored and accessed and the system requirements. Determine the workloads and processes you want to be migrated to the cloud. 

Select a migration strategy based on your evaluation and the best approach for your business. The six Rs of cloud migration are:

  • Rehost – Also called a lift and shift, moves existing data and applications to the cloud as an exact copy. It’s the quickest and most cost-effective approach.
  • Replatform – This is a variation of the rehost or lift and shift where you don’t change the core structure of the applications but make minor cloud adjustments to optimize cloud infrastructure. 
  • Repurchase – With this approach, you move your applications and processes to a new Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. 
  • Refactoring – Reimagining applications with cloud-native capability to improve reliability and scalability for future use. 
  • Retire – With this approach, you would consider if the application is needed and leave it on the in-house server for more review before migration. 
  • Retain – Making the decision to delay the migration is a retaining strategy if the business needs to put the migration on hold.  

Choose KPIs Tailored to Your Business

A successful cloud implementation relies on key performance indicators or KPIs to provide valuable data on how effective the migration to the cloud is. There may be issues throughout the migration that you want to keep an eye on to ensure the cloud migration is minimizing negative impacts. Some important KPIs include:

  • Application Performance – Are the applications functioning as intended, or are there errors?
  • User Experience – Determine the user experience by evaluating page load times, lag, and crashes.
  • Infrastructure – How much CPU and memory is used and how the system performs. 

Choose metrics and KPIs based on the individual goals of your business. Measuring the impact of the cloud solution requires you to select these KPIs early in the planning stages and measure them throughout the migration process. You want to understand if the migration has improved or degraded the experience and determine if it was a cost-effective solution to continue investing in. 

Migrate and Monitor 

Once you’ve made all of your preparations, begin migrations during lower traffic hours to reduce productivity stalls and impacts on user experiences. Once the selected strategy has been completed, monitor the efforts to ensure the migration was successful. Confirm that all data and applications were migrated successfully and security systems are in place.

Ready to Start Migrating to the Cloud?

If your business is ready to move forward in cloud adoption, contact us at WheelHouse IT. We work closely with your team to ensure you receive the best ROI with a tailored migration strategy to fit your needs and get you the best ROI. Call us at 954.474.2204. 

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5 Advantages of Azure Virtual Desktop

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The current remote work trend has led to a spike in technology-driven innovations to ease work experience. More and more emphasis is being placed on the importance of cloud computing in modern-day reality. Azure Virtual Desktop is one of the cloud-computing technologies to make remote IT support easier.

Companies are embracing Virtual Desktop technology to promote the efficiency of their employees working remotely. To understand the advantages to business performance, it is pertinent to know what a Virtual Desktop is.

What is a Virtual Desktop?

A Virtual Desktop is a cloud computing software that allows the delivery of virtual desktops to users anywhere using the internet. Service providers manage this service for businesses that have a user subscription. The package usually covers updates, maintenance, data storage, and backup management, typically including maintenance, backup, updates, and data storage.

What are the advantages of a Virtual Desktop?

Compared to the regular desktop model, a Virtual Desktop has a lot of advantages for businesses and users. Below are five benefits of a Virtual Desktop to businesses.

Deployment is faster

Getting the functionalities of a Virtual Desktop across to end users doesn’t take as much time as setting up the traditional desktop. This is because the configuration is already complete and ready. All that needs to be done is establish a connection on a new device.

Reduced cost

Considering businesses that do not require extensive staffing, a Virtual Desktop is cheaper as it is only set up for the number of employees available at a time. It also does not require as much computing power as a regular desktop device, making it cheaper.

Less IT support Downtime.

Because Virtual Dekstop support is delivered remotely, Downtime is very minimal. The support team could quickly get across to employees’ systems over the internet.

Better security

Data in a Virtual Desktop is stored in a data center. Therefore, if a device is stolen, there is less likelihood of any data being accessed. This reduces security risk and data breaches. It is also easier to install security software and updates remotely on a Virtual Desktop.

More flexibility

Data can be accessed from any device, employees can work on their devices from the office and remotely, and businesses do not have to worry about supporting all the instruments, as this is now the duty of the remote cloud service provider.

Azure Virtual Desktop significantly saves businesses time and stress supporting remote workers and ensuring that everything is working fine. The service providers might not entirely scrap the need for an in-house IT support team, but they could reduce the overhead and money spent on data center maintenance.

Take your remote working experience to a whole new level by contacting the WheelHouse IT team on (877) 771-2384 or by visiting to install Azure Virtual Desktop cloud services.

We are dedicated to ensuring premium cybersecurity, higher productivity, and excellent data maintenance for all customers.

HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage

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HIPAA compliant cloud storage is more than just a buzzword for healthcare administrators. It’s an essential requirement in today’s digital world that businesses need to be aware of and prepared for if they’re going to succeed in the highly competitive industry. 

The implementation of this new technology has created a whole new set of issues with data security, privacy, and compliance. Cloud data storage providers are well-versed in these matters and take every precaution necessary to ensure their clients’ needs are met by adapting their services accordingly. 

HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage in 2021: What Is It?

A HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solution includes all of the necessary safeguards to protect ePHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The covered entity is responsible for developing policies and procedures governing the use of HIPAA-compliant secure cloud storage and cloud environment for this data.

If you’re looking for a HIPAA compliant cloud storage service, then you’ve come to the right place. At Wheelhouse IT, we are experts in HIPAA compliant cloud storage. We offer secure, reliable, and scalable solutions that are easy to use and manage. With our expertise in healthcare compliance, we can help your organization meet its regulatory requirements while reducing costs and improving productivity.

Our team of experts will work with you to design a solution that meets your needs – whether it’s storing patient data or just backing up files from your computer at home. Get started today by contacting us. Contact Wheelhouse IT today for more information on how we can help protect your data! In this article, we cover HIPAA-compliant storage and explain your responsibility in making your cloud storage compliant.

What is HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage in 2021?

Cloud computing solutions provide undeniable cloud benefits for storing and accessing electronic health records. File storage in the cloud is accessible anytime and anywhere from any device using a direct messaging protocol, which makes it easy to share critical medical information between healthcare professionals. But are the security measures of cloud storage and cloud computing services secure enough to store, access, and transfer sensitive personal and medical records?

For clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations, ensuring that patients’ medical information stays private isn’t just an ethical issue, it’s a legal one as well. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides clear rules about the storage, sharing of medical data, and making cloud data safe. Any organization that handles health records is required to be in compliance. Therefore, before moving health-related data to cloud storage, healthcare organizations need to make sure that the software they plan to use is HIPAA compliant.

The key provisions of HIPAA include:

  • HIPAA Privacy Rules — Regulate how an individual’s health information may be disclosed or used
  • HIPAA Security RulesSpecify standards for safeguarding and protecting electronically created, processed, accessed, or stored healthcare information
  • The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule — Requires organizations to notify individuals whose personal health information has been exposed and regulates the process of notification
  • The HIPAA Omnibus Rule — Clarifies definitions, procedures, and policies; provides a checklist for Business Associates; and implements the requirements of the Health Education Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
  • The HIPAA Enforcement Rule — Governs investigations following a data breach and states the penalties imposed on the responsible party

Types of Security Safeguards

The HIPAA Security Rule covers three types of safeguards for protected health information:

  • Physical safeguards — HIPAA requires developing policies for the use and positioning of workstations and procedures for use of mobile devices, as well as implementing facility access controls, if applicable.
  • Technical safeguards — HIPAA requires implementing activity logs and controls, as well as a means of access control. Compliance might require mechanisms for authenticating information and tools for encryption.
  • Administrative safeguards — HIPAA requires conducting risk assessments, implementing risk management policies, developing a contingency plan, and restricting third-party access to information.

HIPAA Compliance and Cloud Storage

No cloud server is HIPAA-compliant right out of the box, but there are ways that IT experts can step in and make the cloud compliant with the needs of covered entities.

Organizations should keep in mind that there is no official HIPAA or HITECH certification, and no government or industry certifies HIPAA compliance for cloud services. That means it’s up to the covered entity and the cloud service provider to ensure adherence to the law’s requirements. The cloud service must review HIPAA regulations and possibly update its products, policies, and procedures to support a covered entity’s HIPAA compliance goals.

How does HIPAA apply to cloud storage?

When a covered entity stores PHI in the cloud, the cloud storage service is considered by law to be a business associate of the covered entity. To be HIPAA compliant, therefore, a Business Associate Agreement has to be in place. That agreement needs to state that the cloud service provider shall:

  • Secure the data transmitted to the cloud
  • Store the data securely
  • Provide a system that allows careful control of data access
  • Record logs of all activity, including both successful and failed attempts at access

A HIPAA-compliant cloud storage incorporates all the required controls to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. The covered entity is responsible for developing policies and procedures covering the use of HIPAA secure cloud storage for this information.

Wheelhouse IT is an expert IT firm that can help you with everything HIPAA compliant cloud storage.

The Most Popular Cloud Storage Services that Support HIPAA and HITECH

Although not all of their versions will be compliant, several popular cloud storage services support HIPAA and the HITECH Act. They include:

G Suite and Google Drive

BAA is an addition to the regular G Suite Agreement offered by Google. Despite not being 100% HIPAA compliant, several helpful Google applications fall under HIPAA criteria concerning the storage and distribution of ePHI.

Your Google Drive files, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms, as well as Gmail and Calendar, may all be set up for HIPAA compliance. It should be noted, however, that Google Contacts, as well as non-core Google properties like YouTube and Blogger, are not HIPAA compliant and hence cannot be included in a BAA.

Microsoft OneDrive and E5

Microsoft’s Online Service Terms automatically provide a Business Associate Agreement. The agreement is available for OneDrive for Business, Azure, Azure Government, Cloud App Security, and Office 365, among others. Covered services include email, file storage, and calendars. Microsoft also provides data loss prevention tools. Microsoft’s Enterprise E5 License offers the most robust security features the company has available. The package also includes advanced security management for assessing risk.

Box Enterprise and Elite

Box Enterprise and Elite accounts include access monitoring, reporting, and audit trails for users and content. The service also provides granular permissions or authorizations. Box can securely share data through a direct messaging protocol and allows secure viewing of DICOM files, including X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds.

Dropbox Business

Dropbox Business offers a BAA for covered entities and can be configured to offer HIPAA-compliant cloud storage. The service provides a variety of administrative controls, including user access review and user activity reports. It also allows for the review and removal of linked devices and enables two-step authentication for additional security.

Essential Security Features for HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA requires a number of security features from services that work with covered entities. The cloud storage services mentioned all allow for a combination of the following security configurations:

  • A HIPAA-compliant cloud storage must offer two-step authentication or single sign-on and encryption of transferred ePHI.
  • All devices used to access or send ePHI must be able to encrypt messages to be sent outside the firewall and decrypt the messages received. All encryption must meet NIST standards.
  • Configuration of file sharing permissions allows covered entities to implement a permission-based system that limits unauthorized user access. The controls must be configured correctly to be effective, including two-step authentication, secure passwords, and secure file-sharing procedures to protect data from unauthorized access.
  • Account activity monitoring requires you to review access logs regularly to ensure you can spot improper activity promptly. Solutions like Netwrix Auditor help you gain visibility into business activities in the cloud. Netwrix Auditor reports on both access events and changes, including changes to content, security settings, and mailbox settings.
  • Data classification is essential for grouping and protecting information based on sensitivity level. Netwrix Data Classification provides predefined taxonomies that are easy to customize, classify data accurately, and automate critical workflows to improve data security.
  • A cloud drive cannot be made HIPAA compliant unless you properly configure security controls and monitor activity around data stored in the system. To ensure your organization’s cloud storage service stays compliant, be sure to regularly perform risk assessments and develop strict cybersecurity policies and procedures.

Which cloud services are not considered HIPAA-compliant?

Some cloud services cannot be made HIPAA-compliant for various reasons. Apple and iCloud, for example, cannot be HIPAA-compliant because they don’t offer a BAA for covered entities. Other services fail to provide essential integrated security capabilities, such as data classification, and, therefore, cannot be used to store ePHI.

Wheelhouse IT: Experts In HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage Provider

HIPAA compliant cloud storage is a must for healthcare providers. Wheelhouse IT can help you with your compliance needs. We offer the best in HIPAA compliant cloud storage, so you don’t have to worry about security or privacy issues. Our team of experts will make sure that all of your data is safe and secure.

You deserve peace of mind when it comes to storing sensitive information like patient records and health insurance information. And we know how important this is. Let us take care of your compliance needs so you can focus on what really matters – caring for patients and providing them with the best possible service.

Contact Wheelhouse IT today to learn more about how we can help protect your company from costly fines or, worse yet, lawsuits!

Is Google Drive HIPAA Compliant in 2021?

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In a nutshell, yes, Google Drive is HIPAA compliant; but, before it can be utilized in a HIPAA compliant way, additional controls must be applied.

Privacy and security are paramount in the medical profession, but many providers want to take advantage of the efficiency that comes with cloud storage platforms. That’s why so many people have been asking if Google Drive is safe for use by healthcare organizations and professionals.

Wheelhouse IT can help you with your Google Drive cloud storage compliance needs. We offer the best in HIPAA compliant cloud storage, so you don’t have to worry about security or privacy issues. Our team of experts will make sure that all of your data is safe and secure. In this article, we discuss the answer to the question: Is Google Drive HIPAA compliant?

 What is protected under HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs the privacy expectations and rights of patients when it comes to their personal and medical information. A care provider must follow all HIPAA regulations to make sure that this information is stored, shared, and used appropriately in line with the standard security practices.

Protected Health Information, or PHI, is the type of information that HIPAA protects. It can also be referred to as ePHI when talking about digital information, such as what is stored in Google Drive. PHI and ePHI can include:

  • Patient claims, such as type of claim or date of claim
  • Patient inquiries, including those that do not result in a claim
  • Referral authorization requests, such as from a primary care physician to a specialist
  • Patient’s past, present, or future medical condition, as well as any associated symptoms or diagnoses
  • Payment information, including credit card information and insurance information
  • Identifying patient information, such as name, date of birth, or address

If providers fail to follow HIPAA regulations, they can face serious fines, damaging their reputations and potentially losing their license.

But, the good news is that, with some additional user protocol in place, Google Drive can be HIPAA-compliant.

HIPAA and Google

HIPAA regulations require that all medical providers protect PHI and ePHI, including the information stored in the cloud on Google Drive. Most of Google Drive’s functionality is covered under the approved BAA, but not all services can be used with PHI.

Third-party add-on applications are almost never covered under the BAA with Google. This means that providers and staff can use programs offered by Google, such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Gmail, Calendar, and others, but they may not use add-on applications from other vendors.

How to Use HIPAA-Compliant Google Drive

The actual Google Drive platform is HIPAA-compliant, as the servers themselves are adequately secure and protected. The additional steps required to make the use of Google Drive HIPAA-compliant come in how the users themselves interact with the information stored on their Google Drive.

Before storing any PHI in Google Drive or using any of the services of the Google platform with any information that is protected under HIPAA, users must sign a Business Associate Amendment (BAA), sometimes called a Business Associate Addendum, with Google.

This is reviewed and accepted by the administrator for your Google Workspace license. The administrator can find the BAA under the main menu of their administrator console by clicking on Account Settings and going to the Legal and Compliance tab.

Under the Security and Privacy Additional Terms, look for the menu for Google Workspace/Cloud Identity HIPAA Business Associate Amendment. The administrator will then be able to review and accept the BAA by answering three questions and clicking OK.

How Can You Restrict Access to PHI in Google?

One of the best ways to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations when using Google Drive is to restrict who can access certain types of files or folders within your Drive or Workspace.

The administrator can restrict access to individual files or folders, as well as regulate the type of sharing permissions that the Workspace as a whole can provide. They can also monitor for unauthorized access and use.

A lot of the protocols for the organization or practice required to follow HIPAA regulations can be put in place by the account administrator.

Some of the best steps to take include:

  • Restricting sharing ability of files
  • Only allow sharing within the organization
  • Disable third-party apps
  • Disable offline storage
  • Perform periodic checks
  • Train employees about HIPAA regulations
  • Develop a file naming convention that does not include PHI in titles

Best Practices for Google Drive Security

Keeping your Google account secure is a great safeguard against unauthorized access to documents containing PHI.

Some steps can be set up by an administrator, such as requiring users to use two-factor authentication when logging into their account.

Other steps are in the control of the individual user, such as using a strong password and not writing their password down in a place easily seen by unauthorized users.

Another place to be mindful when using Google Workplace and its tools, including Google Drive, is to keep PHI out of document or event titles.

While you may have the document viewing or sharing permissions correct and in accordance with HIPAA if you include identifying information or other PHI in the title, unauthorized users can still view the title of the document.

HIPAA Compliance in the Cloud 

Many individuals may mistakenly believe that health care organizations can’t take advantage of cloud technology and capabilities because of their security limitations. This is not true. However, providers have to configure their chosen cloud in a way that protects patient data and follows privacy and security rules.

If you’re interested in learning how HIPAA compliant Google Drive cloud storage could work for your medical practice or office, Wheelhouse IT is here to help. We specialize in healthcare compliance and can show you how to use Google Drive cloud storage without compromising security. With the right partner, it’s easy to stay on top of compliance regulations while still enjoying all the benefits of cloud-based storage. Let us show you how we can help your business thrive with HIPAA compliant Google Drive.

Contact us today to learn more about our services.