Kal Patel, COO at Meditab breaks down six benefits of using a cloud-based EHR system to lower toal cost of ownership (TCO), accelerate implementation timelines, improve accessibility and reduce hardware requirements for physician practices.
EHR systems typically fall into two categories: cloud-based or client-server. Cloud-based systems store the data on external servers where they can be accessed via the web, requiring only a computer with Internet connection in order to access the data. Alternatively, client-server systems store the data in house, requiring a server, hardware and software to be installed. While in-house servers traditionally have been the norm, more and more practices are switching to the cloud for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at six benefits for cloud-based systems:
When an EHR is server-based, it is susceptible to downtime caused by human error or glitches in the software. Practices that rely on client-server systems run the risk of system failure, which can place individual providers, hospitals and entire healthcare systems at risk of having no access to critical patient data for the length of time the server is down. Additionally, most cloud-based EHRs encrypt the data so thieves can’t use the data even if they gain access to it—which isn’t easy since the data is stored off-site in data centers with bank-level security.
Patient information stored and managed using cloud-based EHRs are subject to the same privacy regulations as traditional health records. And, in many ways, they’re more secure. By using a cloud-based EHR, practices no longer need to worry about storing confidential patient information on their own servers. Instead they rely on a vendor’s expertise to protect data on a centralized server. In addition to providing privacy, EHRs allow physicians and medical practitioners to control who has access to sensitive information. By monitoring who has access to certain information, physicians can securely transfer records only to the people who have the authorization to view them.
3. Cost Effectiveness
One of the largest detriments to a client-server system is the initial cost of EHR implementation. Since client-server systems require the installation of specific hardware and software throughout the medical office, some client-server systems can cost $40,000 or more just to set up. That, in addition to the licensing fees, maintenance costs and updates that occur throughout the life of the system, can be hard to swallow. Since cloud-based EHR systems require no hardware installation or licensing fees, implementation is a fraction of the cost. Though practices pay a monthly fee, similar to a utility fee, the overall costs associated with cloud-based servers are minimal in comparison.
Another benefit to cloud computing is the idea that real-time patient data is accessible from multiple locations. For medical practices with multiple offices, this is invaluable. Patient data stored on cloud-based systems can be accessed from tablets, PCs or Macs, and is not dependent on a specific location or server. For patients who visit a lot of specialists as a part of their healthcare, the accessibility of their information from a variety of locations can prove to be beneficial. Cloud-based servers provide medical practitioners with the option to work from home or any other location outside of the office.
5. Reduced IT Requirements
Since cloud-based servers are maintained off-site, there are instant reductions in IT costs associated with maintaining the EHR database. In addition, all files and software reside in the cloud and any installation, migration or updates are included as part of your subscription. A cloud-based server makes it easy to add new users, doctors or locations without having to go through the hassle of contacting an in-house IT team to perform the tasks for you. With cloud-based EHR systems, practices benefit from economy of scale – since many providers use the same system, and redundant costs are minimized, if not eliminated.
6. Grows With You
With a cloud-based EHR solution, you can expand the EHR solution as the practice grows – without the usual overhead and system complexity that can come when trying to mesh a handful of systems together. The flexibility of a cloud-based system allows for new doctors, patients, users and locations to be added quickly and efficiently – without garnering a lot of expense or downtime. Whether the practice is a small, family practice or one with multiple offices, with a cloud-based EHR you’ll be prepared for growth and expansion.
Transitioning from a traditional client-server system to a cloud-based system can be intimidating. But, once the transition is complete, there are countless benefits that can help a practice save time and money. Doctors and their staff members are finding that cloud-based EHRs are not only easier to set up and start using out of the box, but overhead is virtually eliminated: both out-of-pocket expense and the cost of establishing an IT support department.
Cloud-based systems can be customized to meet the specific needs of each hospital or practice in which they will be used. Most cloud-based EHRs provide a dedicated and experience project manager who will answer any questions and collaborate with you to meet your practice’s unique objectives. When looking for a highly effective, fully customizable approach to managing health records electronically, a cloud-based system may be ideal.
About the Author
Kal Patel, Meditab Software COO, graduated from pharmacy school at the age of 21 and quickly jumped into a position as a pharmacy manager. This was followed by a position as a pharmacy director for an FQHC clinic. Mr. Patel joined Meditab in 2001 and has worked to improve the internal operations of the company, as well as establish Meditab’s five office locations.