Cloud computing….What is it?
by Steven J. Kraus, D.C., D.I.B.C.N., C.C.S.P., F.A.S.A., F.I.C.C.
At the present time, there are primarily two models for clinic management. The first is a web-based program which is entirely internet based and its benefits include simplicity, minimal investment in hardware and ease of accessibility, however, they are slower and not as graphically rich in content. The second model is the server based program in which the software and data are stored within the four walls of your clinic…otherwise known as the client-server model. Client-server is faster than web-based and can be graphics-heavy, but it requires a significant investment in hardware and infrastructure and generally requires an IT specialist to keep it running smoothly with the proper configuration. The client server model has been the popular choice for most in the profession.
Cloud computing will be the best of both worlds! Cloud computing happens when the internet itself becomes the connecting method where the data is stored and managed. It is an internet accessible database of your clinic’s patient charts and your practice management systems data. With the cloud, most of the software is stored on your local PCs which means you have the benefit of the graphics and interface, however, you will be using the internet to access the cloud servers for your database….making the process fast and simple and server-free!
Cloud computing happens when the Internet itself becomes the connecting method where the data is stored and managed…
How will it benefit my practice?
Cloud computing is going to change the way data moves and is stored, and will impact your practice in three ways.
1) Data back-up is going to be less costly and easier to maintain, making the overall cost of documentation lower;
2) Data is going to be more secure, which will make records safer and more permanent;
3) Data is going to be more accessible to you and your patients, which means faster response times for information requests and better patient care.
Low cost…low maintenance
With Internet-based data you need less “stuff” to make the software work. All you really need is local high speed internet and a couple PCs. In addition to hardware savings is the fact that data storage is getting less costly over time. As technology advances, we are able to save more and more data in smaller and smaller spaces. Combined with the fact that HIPAA-compliant paper-file storage units, file folders, and all the other accessories that make paper records work, will not be necessary and will further reduce cost.
We are apt to think that paper records are safer than digital records, but on the contrary, paper can be destroyed by common natural elements, such as flood, fire, earthquake or tornado. On the cloud, when you write a SOAP note for an electronic health record, you get the original note and probably a second or third back up on different servers located in secured nuclear bunkers. Your whole practice could be stored in a micrometer’s worth of space and be backed up to exist forever.
Cloud computing will allow faster sharing of record data in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary settings. In the paper model, we might fax or mail a narrative report. In the traditional electronic health record model, we would electronically fax or email the document. Coming soon, there will be a state-operated Health Information Exchanges that will allow all providers to connect locally with hospitals and the rest of the health care community. Patient information, such as, radiology results, lab results, medication lists and any other health information the patient has authorized can be accessed by multiple providers.
Advancement of the chiropractic profession
The opportunity for chiropractors to participate in a Health Information Exchange will assist in the advancement of the profession. In the near future of cloud computing, medical doctors will be logging in to the Health Information Exchange to view their patient’s health record and learn that chiropractic care has resulted in a successful treatment for that patient and in a cost-effective manner. Technology will become a great asset to the profession in the expansion of access to new and existing patients to observe the benefits of chiropractic care. Along with the benefits of reduced cost, secure data, and faster access, data on the cloud is part of a brighter future for all chiropractors!
Dr. Steven J. Kraus is Founder and Chairman of Future Health―the nation’s #1 provider of chiropractic-specific EHR/practice management software. He has more than 22 years’ experience in practice management and is an acknowledged expert in Heath IT, including EHR and the up-to-$44,000 ARRA government incentive. Dr. Kraus serves on numerous committees and frequently travels to Washington, D.C., to represent chiropractic physicians in healthcare discussions and policymaking. To learn more about Future Health’s cloud-based eConnect EHR & practice management software, visit www.FHeConnect.com/1023 or call Toll Free 1-888-434-7347.