There are several Cloud Based Hospital Management/EMR applications available in the market catering to the Healthcare Provider segment. This article is an attempt to arrive at a check-list of points to watch out for, which will eventually help you zero in on an App to suit your organizational needs.
1. The cost-effectiveness quotient: alone is the most compelling reason to consider using a cloud based EMR/Hospital Management Solution. The IT resource requirements are minimal, since no in-house IT experts or Hardware is required to be set up, such as networking, installing, configuring, testing, running or updating the software and managing the servers. Practices for which every penny counts can prevent a chunk of cash outflow by opting to go on the SaaS model. The overall TCO savings are compelling enough to choose the cloud application – considering only the economic sense.
2. Web-Based: applications have a significant advantage over the traditional client-server based applications. The cloud applications need not require any prior installation, can be accessed remotely and users can have secure log-ins. This would mean that the clinicians can also access the data from their homes. Software upgrades, updates or patch releases can be pushed over the internet which means all users of the application can use the latest version of the application.
3. Scalability: Gone are the days when if a consultant wanted to set up a branch to his existing clinic that he would need to double his IT Infrastructure. With the cloud based applications, you can set up even multiples of a 100 clinics with a marginal increase in costs for the server space on the cloud.
4. Data Accessibility and better control: With the web-based applications, data can be controlled and managed centrally. Better Inventory Management, centralized control on rates for the services offered, revenue cycle management, plugging of revenue leakages, centralized appointments scheduling, better resource management and utilization, can be achieved with the cloud model. Adding a new service, doctor or department can be done centrally. In addition the feature of audit trails – ensure that there is a history log of changes done to any of the data.
5. Configurability and Usability: When it comes to healthcare, the workflow of various processes and variations in the policies and procedures is what makes this domain complex for IT Implementation across Healthcare Organizations. The configurability of the application is vital to meeting key operational, clinical and financial needs of an Organization. The fragmentation of the healthcare providers add to the complexity. Is the application compatible to manage the information specific to clinical needs of the patient such as a geriatric demented patient if your organization is into providing home healthcare services. The end users should achieve quick turn-around in productivity after use of the application. In fact if there are more than 2-3 screens for each role-user to be trained the application may be not be considered to be user-friendly.
6. Security and Backup: The web based applications are as safe as your GMAIL account. In fact if people are comfortable enough to do a money transaction over the Internet then why worry about your healthcare records being hosted on the cloud server. Nevertheless, data can be stored in the encrypted form and digital certificate based secure entry provided to the user to securely access the server over the cloud. In fact, data backups over the cloud are doubly backed up, as the data is stored across multiple regions in case of a major disaster where an entire region goes down. Cloud based data is safer than having paper records or saving data in your hard disk or server.
On the flip side are some of the points which do not favor the cloud model.
- An internet outage would have a crippling effect on Organizational functions and data cannot be accessed. Slow connections could cause data latency or lag time, so investing in a leased line may need to be considered as additional costs to the TCO.
- Is it more expensive over the longer run? It could be considering you use the application for the next 5- 10 years.
- How good is the support that I get from the vendor as against the licensed model?
- The vendor controls your data and you are dependent on the vendor for data backup.
- If the vendor goes out of business; do you lose all your data?