This blog was originally published in March 2018, and was updated in May 2023.
Electronic health records (EHR) systems make it easier for healthcare providers to share accurate patient information without violating HIPAA regulations. Cloud-based EHRs offer even more benefits because physicians and authorized viewers can access the cloud-based medical records remotely. With this technology, you can manage everything from prescriptions to test results via any internet-ready device.
What is Cloud-Based EHR?
Cloud-based EHR (Electronic Health Record) is a software system that stores and manages patients' electronic medical records on a remote server. Instead of being stored on local servers within a healthcare facility, the EHR data is stored in the "cloud," which refers to a network of remote servers hosted on the internet.
Types of EHR Systems
Two types of EHR systems stand out as the most popular options among healthcare organizations and independent practitioners, cloud-based EHR and on-premises EHR.
This type of EHR system stores data on a remote server that can be accessed through the Internet. Cloud-based EHR systems are maintained by the vendor and offer benefits such as easier access to patient records from multiple locations and devices, reduced IT costs, automatic software updates, and enhanced data security.
See How Elation Health’s Clinical-First, Cloud-Based EHR Software provides an exceptional physician and patient clinical experience
This type of EHR system is installed on local servers within a healthcare facility, and the facility is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the hardware and software. The data is stored within the facility and can only be accessed by authorized personnel.
The Benefits of Cloud-Based EHR
The benefits of cloud-based EHR have evolved over the last several years. Today’s technology offers the following benefits for independent physicians, direct primary care groups, and new practices.
Better Storage Capabilities
Cloud-based data storage has grown tremendously over the last few years. As recently as 2016, the world’s entire data center storage capacity was less than 900 exabytes. By 2021, the amount of data stored in the cloud nearly reached 2,500 exabytes. Now, vendors are able to adjust the amount of storage you have based on your current needs.
Improved Safety and Security
Cloud-based EHRs use advanced cybersecurity measures like multi-factor authentication, encryption, and firewalls, and store data in multiple locations to reduce the risk of data loss. Access control features allow providers to control who can access data, and disaster recovery capabilities ensure continuity of care.
To ensure compliance with HIPAA, cloud service providers that offer EHR software have implemented a range of security measures, including administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect ePHI. They also sign business associate agreements (BAAs) with healthcare providers, outlining their responsibilities and obligations under HIPAA.
Automatic Updates and Upgrades
Since cloud-based systems are operated by external software-as-a-service (SAAS) providers, independent physicians utilizing these systems can be assured that they are continuously operating on up-to-date servers. This is because automatic updates exist within cloud-based EHR systems. Users then are likely always to be utilizing the most current version of the system allowing for the ease and capability of staying in compliance with federal security guidelines.
Cloud-based EHR technology makes it possible for any authorized user to access patient documents as long as they have an internet connection and a compatible device. This is an essential feature of the cloud. For example, physicians can easily give access to specialists who work in different healthcare facilities. Additionally, cloud-based EHRs assist healthcare groups with multiple locations. The technology even helps improve health outcomes for practitioners that need to visit patients at home.
Most internet-ready devices are compatible with cloud-based EHRs. Whether someone uses an iOS, Android, Windows, or other operating system, they should have access to the files they need.
Cloud-based EHR systems are built on cloud computing infrastructure, which allows healthcare providers to quickly and easily scale up or down their EHR system as needed. This means that healthcare providers can easily adjust their storage, computing power, and bandwidth to accommodate changes in their patient load or business needs, without needing to purchase new hardware or hire additional IT staff.
Additionally, cloud service providers offer pay-as-you-go pricing models, which allow healthcare providers to only pay for the resources they need and use. This makes cloud-based EHR systems more cost-effective and flexible, as healthcare providers can easily adjust their usage and costs based on their needs.
Choosing the Right Cloud-Based EHR Software
Current cloud-based EHRs provide savings on installation and maintenance both for the system and the IT department, automatic updates that allow for security compliance, seamless features that make it easy for practices to expand, and wide access for all users. Download our Free EHR Buyers Guide to understand what features you should consider in a cloud-based EHR.
See a Sample Chart in Elation Health's Clinical-First, Cloud-Based EHR
Elation Health’s powerful EHR lets physicians focus on delivering phenomenal patient care. Take a look at a sample patient chart to see Elation’s clinical-first, cloud-based EHR in action.
What's the Difference Between EMR and EHR?
EMR and EHR are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. EMR is a digital version of a patient's medical chart and contains information collected and used by individual healthcare providers. EHR, on the other hand, provides a more comprehensive view of a patient's health information across multiple healthcare providers and organizations. EHRs include a patient's medical history, medications, allergies, lab results, imaging reports, and other health-related data collected over time from different sources.
What are the Advantages of Cloud-Based EHR Systems?
Many healthcare organizations prefer cloud-based EHRs because the technology offers:
- Easy access to essential patient information, which improves patient outcomes.
- Scalability that changes with the organization’s needs.
- Heightened security managed by a service provider’s experts.
- Comprehensive histories of each patient’s health concerns, lab results, etc.
What's the Difference Between an On-Premises EHR and a Cloud-Based EHR?
Cloud-based EHR systems store data on a remote server that can be accessed through the Internet. On-premises EHR systems are installed on local servers within a healthcare facility, and can only be accessed by authorized personnel in the facility.