When launching your new independent practice, the choice of appropriate technology for patient records and communication is critical. There are basically two different kinds of electronic medical records software: cloud-based and server-based. Determining which makes the most sense for your practice depends on a number of factors.
Your choice of electronic medical records software should benefit your patients and your practice, by providing an efficient method of documenting data as well as accessing it easily and sharing it securely. Considerations should also include whether you prefer to host your own and employ the staff to be able to maintain it, or whether you prefer to have it hosted virtually.
Server-based electronic medical records software is housed on-site within your practice. You and your staff maintain the equipment and the software involved, including ensuring that software is updated on a regular basis. While the server-based option appears to give you more control over the technology, it can also come with some challenges.
You will either need to have a technology expert on staff or have a consultant on call who can respond immediately if the equipment breaks down. Software updates must also be maintained and installed by someone with knowledge of when and how to do so. The security and integrity of the information being kept by the electronic medical records software will also require an expert who can ensure that all records and transactions adhere to HIPAA requirements.
Cloud-based electronic medical records software, on the other hand, is maintained, updated, and secured by the Software as a Service (SaaS) provider. Especially important for a new independent practice, the burden and cost of the server, hardware, and software upkeep is shifted to the electronic health record (EHR) provider, rather than becoming another required aspect of practice management for the independent physician.
Learn more about the benefits of Elation’s cloud-based EHR for independent practices.
A cloud-based EHR stores patient data in servers at an off-site location and enables users to access the technology via the internet. SaaS deployment can be leveraged for EHRs and for health information exchange (HIE). The benefits of cloud-based electronic medical records software include:
- Lower costs that are more predictable for your new independent practice: SaaS technology solutions are often lower cost solutions, as you can avoid the costs of purchasing expensive hardware (e.g., servers) and/or software. The costs of SaaS deployment are also more predictable than on-site technology. SaaS deployment typically requires the independent physician to pay a fixed monthly subscription cost, while on-site deployment typically requires the practice to pay for ongoing costs to support and manage on-site data servers.
- Safety and security: SaaS technology deployment “reduces individual maintenance responsibilities and allows even small organizations to benefit, [as] responsibility for maintaining security is shifted from the small health care organization to the cloud-based service provider.”
- Easier updates and upgrades: SaaS technology solutions enable the EHR vendor to make upgrades and fixes to the software without requiring end-user involvement. Upgrades and updates to SaaS technology are often less expensive and easier.
- Improved accessibility by patients and practice team members: SaaS deployment allows providers, staff members, and patients to access information from remote locations.
- Improved data exchange: SaaS technology solutions also enable better data exchange, as “data from many organizations are stored and processed in a more uniform way.” As a new independent physician, you can easily use the cloud-based technology to share information with other providers, health care organizations, and your patients.