Cloud computing has been around in the business world for some time, but few have used it within healthcare. Until now, as it’s beginning to generate more interest. Put simply, cloud computing is where computer hardware and software are delivered as a service over some kind of network, such as the Internet.
What this means for a medical practice is that you no longer have to buy the computer hardware and software. All you have to do is install one application that will allow you to access a service via the Web that contains all of the electronic health record software you will need. Servers at another location, owned by another company, would run all of your EMR software programs.
There is a front end to the system, what the client sees, and a back end, where the cloud platform is located – the computers, servers and data storage. A central server allows the computers to communicate with each other over the Internet.
There are a number of advantages to the cloud system. One is that if your practice is using a cloud, you can access your EMR applications and data from anywhere at any time. The data wouldn’t be restricted to one computer where it is stored.
This would reduce cost because users would not need to spend any money on computer hardware or software. With all of the processing power in the cloud, all the user needs is a basic computer with the software that allows the user to connect to the cloud hardware. All of your data would be stored in data storage hardware in the cloud.
With cloud computing, you pay a monthly fee, so initially it is obviously much cheaper to go with the Web-based platform. However, some argue that over a long period of time, it could end up costing you more than a conventional EMR platform.
You automatically stay up to date with the latest computing features as the administrator installs it on the cloud hardware. You also don’t have to worry about computer troubleshooting and repair, since all that, along with updates, is taken care of at the back end.
Using a cloud platform also has other advantages – it allows practices to keep their medical billing services software connected to their payer network more easily; it allows all of the vendors and services to integrate using this one Web-based platform; and it allows physicians to connect to outside vendors through software integration products.
There are downsides to cloud computing, such as limited ability to customize the software, a reliance on the vendor for backups and security, and bandwidth that is dependent on the Internet connection.
If your practice or hospital needs EMR IT professionals who specialize in consulting, assessments, implementations, migrations or upgrades, contact Morgan Hunter Healthcare!