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In the digital age, both medicine and healthcare have become information-rich enterprises. Leveraging smartphones, tablets and web-enabled devices, healthcare professionals can now instantly access critical information thanks to the introduction and adoption of Electronic Health Record Systems. With EHRs, information is available whenever and where it needs to be. Proponents argue that EHR integration allows for a more seamless flow of information within the digital healthcare infrastructure.
Typically, EHR systems are either client-server or cloud-based. In a client-server system, the more common of the two, systems store the data in-house. This requires a server, hardware and software to be installed along with an in-house IT team for maintenance and implementation. In a cloud-based system, data are stored on external servers and require only a computer with an Internet connection to access data. Cloud-based EHR advocates identify a key advantages over client-server systems along with a few drawbacks. We break them down for you below.
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Advantages of Cloud-based EHR
Save Space and Reduce On-Site IT Investment
To run a successful business, it’s important to find opportunities to cut costs. One way to do this is by reducing IT requirements, which can be accomplished within the healthcare industry by adopting a cloud-based EHR solution. Unlike a client-server system, cloud-based servers are maintained off-site, instantly reducing IT costs associated with maintaining an EHR database. Cloud-based EHR systems typically require a subscription with some up-front costs. However, it saves you time and money down line because all files and software reside in the cloud and any installation, migration or updates are included with your subscription. With a cloud-based EHR system, you can easily add new doctors, locations or users to your system and avoid the challenge and hassle of building an in-house IT team to perform tasks for you.
With a client-server EHR system, there is a much higher risk of downtime caused by human error, glitches or other software challenges. Health systems running on client-server run into system failure more often than those that rely on cloud-based systems. This puts individuals, hospitals and entire healthcare systems at risk because critical patient data can’t be accessed. An HIT Consultant article notes, “Most cloud-based EHRs encrypt the data so thieves can’t use the data even if they gain access to it–which isn’t as easy since the data is stored off-site in data centers with bank-level security.”
Along with improved security, cloud-based systems provide substantially more privacy for doctor, patient and healthcare system data. While traditional health records are typically held to very high privacy standards, cloud-based EHRs are even more secure in many ways. The reason for this is that, by using a cloud-based EHR, practices can avoid storing confidential patient data on their own servers. Instead, they can “rely on a vendor’s expertise to protect data on a centralized server,” according to HIT Consultant. Moreover, physicians can actually pick and choose who has access to sensitive information and who does not. The ability to authorize or prohibit access allows physicians to better ensure records are transferred and updated securely.
Significantly Reduce Costs
While there are some up-front subscription costs associated with cloud-based EHR system adoption, the initial costs of client-server EHR implementation can be substantial. Client-server systems necessitate the installation of “specific hardware and software throughout the medical office, some client-server systems can costs $40,000 or more just to set up. That, in addition to licensing fees, maintenance costs and updates that occur throughout the life of the system, can be hard to swallow,” according to HIT Consultant.
Cloud-based EHR systems, on the other hand, don’t require any hardware installation or licensing fees and implementation costs are significantly less. The drawback is that practices must pay a monthly subscription fee, however, the overall costs pale in comparison to implementing a client-server system.
Shifting to the Cloud is Preparing for the Future
As time goes on, EHR systems will inevitably need to evolve, and the trend so far has been towards cloud-based solutions. Practices can ensure that they are future-proof by becoming early adopters of cloud-based EHR systems. With a cloud-based system, you can easily expand as your practice grows and technology advances and avoid unnecessary overhead, rather than deal with the challenges that go along with trying to combine a number of complex systems together.
A cloud-based EHR system can more easily grow with your practice, and you do not have to worry about garnering a lot of expense or downtime to improve the system. As transitioning from paper to EHRs was intimidating for numerous healthcare organizations, so to is making the jump from a client-server system to a cloud-based EHR system. If the initial costs and work associated with making the shift to cloud-based EHR intimidate you, try to keep in mind how much time, effort and space you’ll save down the line. While cloud-based systems are arguably not as easy to setup and use effectively right out of the box, overhead is virtually eliminated in terms of both out-of-pocket expenses and creating an IT department to monitor and maintain the system.
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Building an Effective EHR System Requires the right Team
Hiring the right Healthcare IT professionals for your practice is important, regardless of which system your organization decides to go with. There would likely be less need for a robust healthcare IT team with a cloud-based EHR system, however, the implementation process can be complex and requires considerable expertise to navigate successfully. In a client-server model, hiring a top-level IT team is critical when it comes to ensuring the successful, effective and efficient operation of the system. If your organization finds itself in need of new Healthcare IT professionals, contact us at Healthcare Recruiters International today and we’ll put you in contact with one of our seasoned Healthcare IT recruiting experts. If you’re in need of a different type of new hire, we also recruit for Pharmacy, Medical Research, Healthcare Executives and more.
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