Why Every Medical Practice Should Make the Leap to the Cloud
By Jim Higgins
Jim Higgins is the CEO and founder of Solutionreach in Lehi, UT.
Just over a decade ago, the only cloud we knew about was that big, white, fluffy thing in the sky. Since around 2006, however, “the cloud” has changed life as we know it. We use the cloud to binge watch Netflix. To create a work report via Google Docs. It enables us to protect and save pictures through apps like Dropbox. We use the cloud to connect with loved ones on Facebook or Skype. And — without question — cloud computing has completely changed the face of business. It is estimated that by 2020, 60-70 percent of all software, services, and technology spending will be cloud-based.
While healthcare traditionally lags behind the rest of the business world, research shows that cloud computing is making its mark here as well.
- Ninety-two percent of healthcare providers see the value of cloud services.
- Sixty-seven percent of healthcare offices are currently using SaaS applications.
Moving to cloud-based applications has a number of advantages for medical practices. The top reason people in the industry like cloud computing is because it saves money. But beyond the financial advantages, there are many other reasons every practice should consider moving to the cloud:
1. Improved patient satisfaction. The cloud gives patients unprecedented access to their own medical information, keeping them informed and engaged in their own care. And they like it. In fact, the majority of today’s patients say that they would choose a doctor that uses the cloud over a doctor that does not.
Today’s patient platforms (powered by the cloud) make it possible for patients to “meet” with their doctor virtually. For those patients who live far from healthcare facilities, have a strong fear of the physician’s office, or don’t have readily available transportation, this option can be the difference between being seen or not. The growing desire for cloud-based virtual visits is backed up by research that shows three out of four patients (77 percent) say that they want access to virtual care and telehealth.
In addition, the cloud gives physicians unparalleled access to information about a patient’s potential condition, based on data from thousands of patients with similar symptoms — all accessed via the cloud. As doctors are able to more accurately diagnose disease in their patients, patient satisfaction rises.
2. Disaster protection. A few years ago, one of our clients experienced a devastating fire that destroyed their entire practice. Fortunately, they had all of their appointment information set up on the cloud. This meant that they were able to know which patients were scheduled to come in that day and easily shoot off a text letting them know about the disaster.
Using patient communication through the cloud keeps you in contact with patients no matter what your situation (even if the only problem is a power outage). In addition, when patient files are stored on the cloud, they are easily accessible if you move to a temporary facility while rebuilding. In the case of a large-scale disaster, where the patients have been impacted as well, the cloud gives patients access to their own medical information—making available everything from important prescriptions to a full health history.
3. Better collaboration. It is generally agreed upon that collaboration is one of the most important aspects of effective healthcare, indicated by the 96 percent of executives that say a lack of intra-office collaboration or poor communication leads to mistakes. Cloud computing is a great way to improve communication and cooperation between doctors, staff members, and office managers.
By allowing professionals to communicate instantly via the cloud, everyone in the office can have the information they need — wherever they may be at that moment. If something unexpected pops up during the course of a regular day, cloud-based applications make it possible for the entire team to handle the change without needing to hunt each other down.
4. Reduced burden on everyone. More than half of all practices say that using systems via the cloud reduces the burden on staff or allows them to function with fewer staff members. In addition, 68 percent of patients say they feel relief when their provider offers the ability to complete tasks through the cloud. The cloud moves some of the burden from staff to patients — giving them a feel of more control over their care at the same time.
By moving many administrative tasks to the cloud, practices also leave the window open to growth. Administrative tasks that once took up a large part of a practice’s day can now be taken care of without any work required by staff. A majority of patients say they have paid their bill over the cloud via a patient portal. And 77 percent of patients say the ability to schedule appointments online is important to them. The cloud allows practices to be flexible and scalable when it comes to adding new patients.
Simply put, cloud computing is no longer just a nice-to-have option for healthcare practices. It is critical to the future growth and competitiveness of every office. By moving to the cloud, you can maximize your resources all while making patients happier. It’s become a no-brainer.
More news: HIStalk.