According to a recent Black Book Rankings report, 17% of physician practices are considering switching EHR vendors by January 2014. So, it should come as no surprise that many are looking for health IT vendors with a fresh approach to fulfilling physician software needs.
More and more physicians are trending towards cloud-based health IT solutions that work under the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) payment model to handle the operational and administrative aspects of practicing medicine.
While some think the cloud is just techy jargon for the Internet, it actually refers to a method of computing whereby applications are hosted remotely and accessed by the user via the Internet. For decades, physicians have been accustomed to hosting software applications on physical servers in their offices — the backbone of health IT almost for 20 years.
Cloud computing represents a paradigm shift in healthcare administration. The cloud makes it possible for practices to grow and expand rapidly by generating efficiencies and cost savings.
IT vendors following the SaaS model are offering a number of advantages to physician practices, including lower operation costs, better customer service and the ability to innovate faster.
Lower Operating Costs
There are virtually no start-up costs associated with cloud-based software solutions. Because you access the system through a secure web browser, every task can be performed from the computers you already own. With cloud-based software, the only equipment your practice needs are working computers and a decent Internet connection.
On the other hand, traditional client-server solutions require the customer to purchase costly hardware like servers and VPN routers just to get started.
Also, under the SaaS model, practices only sign up for the services they need at a set monthly subscription rate. Implementation fees are generally lower than with client-server because there is no hardware to install on site.
Personalized Implementations and Customer Support
In almost any industry, it’s usually the newest companies who are willing to go above and beyond in order to build a loyal customer base. The same also holds true in health IT.
The youngest software companies are often the ones offering the most personalized implementations processes, many times assigning practices their own personal representative or implementations team to facilitate a smooth transition to the new system.
When shopping for a new technology solution, practices have to ensure potential vendors value the implementation process. It’s usually the newer companies – those looking to succeed in an extremely competitive market -that will be willing to go the extra mile to plan a successful implementation for your practice.
According to a study published in Journal Health Affairs, doctors who received more technical assistance when integrating their EHR were more likely to understand the system better than physicians who did not receive any technical assistance at all.
Almost as important as proper implementations is customer support. The same study found that implementation alone was not enough to guarantee EHR success in a medical practice. It’s important to find a health IT vendor that offers real-time, live customer support to help get you through any rough patches.
The financial benefits also extend beyond set-up and customer service. Cloud-based EHRs reduce IT staffing requirements because maintenance and support is taken care of remotely, oftentimes within minutes.
This isn’t possible for client server solutions. Actually, it can take up to two days to arrive at a practice for server repairs. The delay could potentially cost you thousands of dollars in missed encounters and upset patients.
When a large company opts to make a change or upgrade their software, the decision has to make its way through several layers of bureaucracy before final approval.
But younger, less corporate-minded health IT companies can innovate faster because of their smaller scale and streamlined corporate structures. And because newer companies also tend to program the software in more modern, adaptable programming language, improvements are easier to make.
So if you’re looking to purchase medical software that is ready to evolve alongside the ever-changing healthcare landscape, a cloud-based solution developed in the last five years may be the way to go.
It seems that cloud-based IT solutions have cemented their place in healthcare, and the younger health IT companies are proving themselves worthy competitors against the industry titans. Only time will tell which of the up-and-comers will take the reigns of an industry in much need of a steady leader.
Register for CareCloud’s October 30 webinar to see for yourself a modern practice management software that will streamline workflow, simplify daily tasks and generate additional revenue.