Technology has become a crucial component to healthcare documentation and management. Many benefits come from Electronic Record keeping including productivity increases, greater security measures as the burden of IT being lifted off of the shoulders of clinic staff. One of the most beneficial technology innovations in healthcare is the development of cloud-based technology.

With new “cloud” technology, comes a lot of questions and concerns. Is it proven?  Is it safe?  We see a lot of misinformation around the Cloud because it is still fairly new in the healthcare industry, even though this type of technology has really been around for a decade now.  Let’s look at a few of those uneasy misconceptions and see if they prove true.

1) Cloud based systems are less secure than traditional server based software making the cloud a much riskier choice for healthcare applications.

This is a common claim, but it’s entirely untrue. Before we begin to debunk this myth, let’s take a look at a recent study on healthcare data breaches. The Department of Health and Human Services recently released data on security breaches and the root cause of such breaches.

The top causes of violations in data breaches were:

  1. Physical theft.
  2. Physical loss.  

Both of these major security issues are simply alleviated with a cloud based EMR.  Where did hacking and spammer related activities fall?  Last on the list, accounting only for 6% of violations.

Cloud-based Systems have a stake in their own security. Using WebPT as an example, we take the burden of data protection off of the shoulders of our members. This added value to our product also comes with great responsibility. When is the last time that a private practice invested significant money and resources in an audit of their hardware or security?

2) What happens if my cloud vendor goes out of business?

This is a claim we see quite often and actually has some merit. Healthcare IT is a booming industry and many businesses are trying to get a piece of the action. Because of this, many companies spring up and then fail. Doing adequate research in your decision making process should make it clear who is here to stay and who is trying to make a quick buck.

We can only speak for ourselves on this one. WebPT is the leading PT cloud-based EMR in the industry. We support well over 1,300 clinics across the US and more than 6,500 users log in to our system every day, storing 5,000,000 documents in our cloud.  There are many questions you can ask your provider which we’ll address in another article.

3) Taking your business to the cloud means losing control over your valuable data.

Hosting your data / software in the cloud does reduce time and money, but it does not reduce data control.  Many SaaS providers give users rights to manage and control their own data. Recovery of data for any reason should be a request your cloud provider can easily accomplish. Make sure that you read the terms of your agreement and ask the right questions when choosing your provider.

4) Cost savings is the only reason anyone would move to the cloud.

The benefits of using the cloud go far beyond the price point. In the cloud, applications are easily scalable, flexible, and constantly updated. When your server-based system needs an upgrade, it can cost your clinic thousands of dollars and a weekend of time. Other reasons to look at the cloud are for:

  1. Predictable monthly budget
  2. Your provider is responsible for audits and security testing
  3. Your provider is responsible for ensuring hardware is refreshed and state of the art
  4. This is what your provider does for a living – manage servers and data centers.  This is his day job, not yours.
  5. Getting up in running in hours vs. weeks.  Just flip a switch and suddenly you’re using a cloud-based application.  If you want to install software on every PC in your building and set up a server in your closet, you may be in for some long days.
  6. Scalability is another huge factor.  For every person you hire and PC you purchase, you now have to standardize that computer and load the software on it.  With the cloud, you can simpy scale as needed from any device, anywhere. 

5) Cloud technology is new and unproven

Have you ever used Gmail or Yahoo?  How about iTunes or an app store?  Cloud services are tested as vigorously as any other software application. Microsoft runs their entire business “in the cloud” on a SharePoint application running on hundreds of servers that exist in several data centers.  There is not one server on-premise in the Microsoft offices.  In fact, according to CIO magazine, 90% of Fortune 500s rely on external hosting providers to house some portion of their data. 

Downtime is to be expected with any application you use. The benefit that the cloud has over traditional services is its ability to integrate the latest and greatest technology for redundancy and failover measures.  The cloud can be upgraded easily Most cloud providers are able to quote over 99% uptime for their applications. The cloud offers simplicity and security while unlocking powerful capabilities for small business without large budgets.

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