When buying an electronic health record system, the first product differentiator many consider is whether to go with a local server or cloud-based model. Many electronic health record solutions now offer both options to their customers. Occasionally a local server may be required for unique reasons, in general, the healthcare industry continues shifting towards the trend of cloud technology for many good reasons.
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. The name comes from the idea that, like traditional business services, payment is made as usage progresses, and that many of the responsibilities of ownership are handled by the vendor instead of the customer. Responsibilities such as back-up and security of data, updating underlying software dependencies and maintenance of expensive hardware.
As a reminder, there are several benefits to this option:
- Lower Costs Setting up client-server EHRs can be very expensive, as it involves costs for implementation, licensing, maintenance, updates, etc. With cloud-based systems, there are no installation or licensing fees. Instead, a monthly charge allows you to access the data you need without dealing with the hassle of hardware maintenance.
- Easier Maintenance Cloud-based systems require very little maintenance, and the SaaS provider can take care of updates and patches. Server-based models require IT personnel to manually install and update the system.
- Better Security Data security is a major consideration when dealing with confidential patient data. Cloud-based EHRs offer better encryption methods and data protection in order to remain HIPAA compliant. Providers don’t need to store sensitive information on their own servers and they can choose to authorize only certain medical personnel to view such records.
- Browser-based Access Through desktop or laptop browsers and mobile “app” technologies, physicians are no longer reliant on their location in order to work. Devices such as tablets and smartphones allow access anytime, anywhere there is Internet connectivity.
- Growth Opportunities Cloud systems allow practices to easily add or change users of the EHR, making it easy to grow the practice as they wish
- Cloud-based Server Power means all data computing is done on the remote server, thereby reducing the minimum computer hardware requirements on the clients/workstations. All that’s required is a supported web browser.
The latest client-server models offer the “best of both worlds”, with both the speed of a local system and accessibility from a remote location.
Where traditional client/server products have required practices to use MS Terminal Services or Citrix technology to access their data from remote locations, these newer systems can be accessed from any Internet browser. Client/Server also boasts the benefits of a practice having the control over their data. However with this control comes responsibility; you are in charge of securing your data, as you are now open to the risk of theft, fire, hard-drive failure and data corruption.
Many IT futurists consider SaaS systems to be “the future.” However, some offices find they don’t have the need for remote access and don’t want to put their data in the hands of another company, making client-server systems still a viable option. Speak with your IT consultant and the software vendor to get all the facts you need to make an educated decision.
PrognoCIS EHR offers both client-server and cloud-based models, depending on which choice you decide is best for your practice.