Cloud-computing has made the delivery of healthcare services more cost-effective, readily accessible, interoperable, and secure. According to HIMSS Analytics, nearly two-thirds of hospitals, industry leaders, and other healthcare organizations use the cloud or cloud services for hosting clinical applications and data, backups, recovery, and hosting of other operational applications. More and more practices are looking to replace their current EHR system in the near future.
There are two basic categories of EHR systems: client-server and cloud-based. Medical practices can choose to store their data on-site by configuring a server with the necessary hardware and software and install it inside of their office. This traditional setup is called a client-server system. Alternatively, offices can look to store their data on servers external to their office. To access their data, they will only need an Internet-connected computer in their office. This setup is called a cloud-based system. While there are many benefits to each, here are five advantages of a cloud-based EHR system:
1. Cost Efficient Data Management
The cost of implementation for traditional client-server systems can be an expensive undertaking. Practices have to pay for licensing fees, maintenance costs, and updates to the system, in addition to initial setup costs which can add up to $37,000 or more (1). Cloud-based EHR systems do not require on-site hardware installations or licensing fees and have fewer implementation costs. Medical offices will still have a monthly fee, however, the overall cost to the office will be minimal.
EHR systems on the cloud tend to have reduced redundancies or duplicates. For example, practices can quickly look up all the ICD and CPT codes for the diagnosis and treatment. This lookup not only speeds up the billing process but also ensures insurance claims are accurate. As such, cloud-based systems can help to reduce costs of data management.
Access to patient data is paramount for any medical practice, especially when there are multiple locations. Cloud-based EHRs provide real-time anywhere-anytime accessibility regardless of location and device platform. Healthcare workers can access patient data on their PCs, MACs, phones, and tablets. As a result, cloud-based systems allow practitioners to work from home effectively when necessary, including during unexpected times.
3. Reduced Need for IT Support
Cloud-based EHR system providers generally handle the installation process, all hardware and software updates, configurations, and testing involved during the migration of medical data to the cloud. Therefore, medical offices do not require extensive IT resources as much of the implementation process is handled by the SaaS provider.
Cloud-based systems grow with your business. They allow for quick and efficient additions of locations, doctors, users, and patients, reducing downtime and other inherited expenses. In addition, cloud-based EHRs are completely customizable to each office’s specialty or needs. Whether an office is a new single-provider office or an office with multiple locations, cloud-based EHRs can accommodate all needs.
5. Security and Privacy
Traditional on-site systems run the risk of failure caused by human or software errors. The inability to access patient data can lead to catastrophic consequences for a medical office. Most cloud-based EHRs not only offer 24/7 access to patient data, but they also ensure that the data is encrypted and stored in datacenters that are highly secure. Patient information stored on the cloud is considered electronic protected health information and is governed by regulations of the HIPAA act. (2)
As more and more healthcare providers and organizations migrate to cloud-based systems, they will have to consider if such systems fit their needs. There are many advantages to migrating to such systems such as savings on installation, maintenance, and support. Cloud-based systems not only keep practice’s up to date on coding requirements, but also meet HIPAA regulations. Finally, an EHR system can be taken virtually anywhere. All that is needed is an Internet-enabled device and offices will be ready to help those in need.