Cloud computing is a billion-dollar industry in almost every field. It’s worth $226 billion alone. Its value in the healthcare industry is around $10 billion in 2020. The cloud has a variety of benefits for this industry, mostly for record-keeping and patient record analysis.
A Datica survey of hospital chief information officers found that more than half of its respondents consider cloud hosting a top 10 priority for their facility. Over 45% of those surveyed said that they were already developing cloud applications. About 15% said that over a quarter or half of their IT operations are cloud-based.
If your organization has not taken advantage of cloud computing and its benefits to your private practice, here’s what you need to know.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing involves storing, accessing, and processing data over the internet instead of your hard drive or on-premise servers. You rent your storage and processing power from external providers. There are three models of cloud computing:
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – This is a barebones model. The provider gives you every component that a usual data center has like storage and virtualization. The operating system and application development are entirely up to your information officers.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – Like IaaS, the provider offers you all the hardware capabilities through the cloud. They also add a platform for you to develop your applications.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – If you don’t have a dedicated IT officer in your practice, this is what you’d choose. The provider gives you a complete package of cloud applications suited to your needs. Notable examples of SaaS include Google Docs and Zoho.
Benefits of Cloud Computing to Your Practice
Cloud computing allows you to do most, if not all, of your digital processes over the internet. But what are its specific advantages?
Efficient and Cost-Effective Storage
Even if you’re running a small practice, you still have to go through hundreds of electronic patient records. They’re sure to fill up your hard drive, leading you to sacrifice office space for bulky server equipment to get the storage capabilities you need. Plus, you have to deal with maintaining and repairing those servers to prevent losing your patients’ important data.
With a cloud storage provider, you don’t have to deal with these issues. You get to store your data on the servers that they host and maintain themselves. If you need a storage space upgrade, they can grant it in a matter of minutes so you can upload as much data as you need. You can’t find scalability as easy and as convenient as this in a physical server.
Fast and Convenient Access
Because you store your data on the internet, you may access it no matter where you are, on any device. Just make sure you have the authentication methods to do it. This is ideal for last-minute changes to your work when you get home or during in-home consultations. You can share select records with your patients’ devices, so they can keep track of their conditions.
If your patient is transferred to another care facility, you can easily send over their electronic health records in just a few clicks or taps. Even your revenue cycle management app can be accessed from the internet if it’s cloud-based.
Collaboration is a breeze, too. Cloud computing allows for a single document for each patient record that you and your staff can edit. Cloud applications like Google Docs allow you to see which people are editing the document in real-time. It also lets you see the file’s edit history, complete with who touched the document last and when they did it.
Secure and Compliant
A fire or any other disaster that affects your practice can damage your servers permanently, causing you to lose valuable patient data and records. You don’t have to worry about this problem with a cloud service provider. They store your data in multiple locations to make sure that you always have access to it, even if they encounter problems in one site.
When reviewing your options for a cloud service provider, look for ones that specialize in healthcare and have robust security measures in place. They should offer data encryption, 24/7 access to data, access level capabilities, and regular security audits in all their applications. This way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your electronic health records are secure from hackers. Plus, you won’t have problems adhering to regulations like the HIPAA.
These security measures not only keep your practice on the right side of the law, but they also show your patients that they can trust you in handling their sensitive data.
When it comes to data management, cloud computing is undoubtedly the future. Various industries, including healthcare, are implementing it. These benefits show how the cloud can vastly improve the collaboration, compliance, and cost of handling and storing electronic health records. The question is not if but when your practice will adopt this technology.