By Crystal Stanton
Electronic Health Records (EHR) are an important part of the health care industry today. Many times, organizations are faced with the choice of whether to subscribe to a cloud-based service or host its EHR software in-house. Each option comes with benefits and challenges.
So, how do you determine which is best for your organization? It is important review the specific characteristics of both cloud-based EHR and in-house EHR in order to make the best decision for your organization.
Cloud-based systems are hosted on a shared server and accessed via the internet remotely. Accessing software this way comes with several advantages, the first being ease of implementation. Since cloud-based software is hosted elsewhere and accessed through the internet, there is no hardware or software to install, making for a more efficient implementation and a faster return on investment. Another benefit of cloud-based software is the cost savings when it comes to cost of implementation. Because there is no need for hardware or software installation, implementing cloud-based software requires a small start-up cost and the regular subscription fee which is typically more affordable than the up-front implementation costs for in-house software.
When accessing your EHR through the cloud, your IT requirements are reduced because the vendor handles maintenance and security on their end. This also helps reduce the organization’s need for an in-house IT team to install, configure, and update hardware and software. Increased flexibility is another advantage of cloud-based software. Because the EHR is accessed through the internet, providers are not limited in the locations where they can access their system. Smartphones and tablets are both fair game, even away from the office, which helps providers work on the go as needed. Adding another user with cloud-based software is also as easy as adding log-in credentials.
In-house software is hosted locally within your facility on your own private network. Many organizations prefer in-house software to the cloud because it allows for more control. When dealing with in-house software, organizations will have its own IT maintain security and keep everything functioning. Organizations can control how and where the data is stored, including infrastructure configurations, allowing an organization to customize this setup to its specific needs.
Another benefit is that an organization can access its system even if the internet goes down. These types of situations should be rare, but for organizations located in areas where they have trouble with the internet, they will likely prefer to keep their software hosted in-house. There is also a difference in cost between cloud-based and in-house software. The greatest difference here is not so much in amount, but rather in timing. In-house software requires a greater up-front investment, which some organizations may dislike, but over time the cost is less. Cloud-based systems require a monthly fee over the lifetime of the software’s use, meaning an ongoing expense that some organizations may want to avoid.