Doctor’s offices are under tremendous cost and efficiency pressure. It can be tough to provide the health care services patients require quickly and cost effectively, especially given all the paperwork required. Automation can help, but privacy and security requirements are onerous, and most independent physician practices don’t have the budgets for massive technological investments – especially given the fast rate of innovation.
The solution to this problem lies in the cloud. Cloud-based collaboration and record-keeping tools make it easy for administrative staff to work seamlessly with nurses, doctors, and other care providers to improve the quality of care while keeping costs under control. A recent Black Book rankings study found that 70% of SMB medical practices now use cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) systems.
Here are five ways cloud-based tools can help the mid-sized physician’s office:
1. Secure access to patient information while enforcing HIPAA compliance
To achieve secure access, you’ll need a certified and secure business-class file-sharing solution like Egnyte™. This type of technology will allow authorized members of the administrative and clinical staffs to send, receive, and access sensitive patient data from any desktop or mobile device, which will make your office much more productive while protecting patient and other confidential data.
2. Save time and make employees more productive
Clinical, as well as administrative and patient financial and insurance data, need to be kept up-to-date and accessible by everyone who needs it – and the cloud is the perfect solution. Online office suites like Microsoft® Office 365 create centralized places for shared documents to be stored, where they can be easily shared and updated. As an integrated set of productivity tools, these suites are simple and easy to use, without forcing your staff to learn multiple technology interfaces.
3. Enable mobile healthcare
Your clinical staff doesn’t just stay in the office –nurses, doctors and therapists can serve in multiple clinics, hospitals, or even at patients’ homes. Cloud-based file sharing and office productivity applications make mobility easier by offering secure real-time access to patient records; charts, files, lab reports, and prescriptions from wherever clinicians happen to be working. For physicians who are venturing into telemedicine, videoconferencing services can forge virtual connections with patients who can’t leave their homes or get away from their offices. The number of patients using remote videoconferencing health services will rise to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013.
4. Ensure scalability as you expand
If you are growing, the cloud helps ensure your technology investments grow with you. When growing your business, on-premise technology solutions require hefty up-front investments in infrastructure and overstaffing computing and communications capabilities. With the cloud, you can quickly expand as much as needed. In terms of cost, you only pay for what you are using at any given time. If you have seasonal fluctuations – during flu season, for example, or at the beginning of the school year – you can bump up capacity to match it. When new employees join your organization, having all your apps in the cloud allows you to get them up and running easily. You simply add new employees from your administrator portal without any delay in waiting for your IT infrastructure to catch up. With the cloud, your small physician’s office is good to grow.
5. Building your network in the cloud
If you are an IT administrator or CIO within a network of healthcare providers and partners, access to public cloud-hosted applications can generate enormous compliance risks. You are challenged to balance demand within the organization to provide internally consumed applications that are available anytime on any device. But it doesn’t end there. You now have to react to patient pressure for on-demand results and self-monitoring devices driven by popular health retail devices. SD-WAN networks provide a solution that allows for secure cloud connectivity combined with traffic-shaping policy. An intuitive software-based management interface combines application performance visibility with network control. If confidential information contained in an application is compromised, you can react immediately by rerouting that information to a secure environment like a Security Operations Center or secure network. You can set security policies at the application level and automate them. Plus, you can pool bandwidth across networks to ensure application performance is maintained at business-critical levels.
It’s clear the field of medicine is changing. Technology is rapidly advancing. Not long ago, healthcare providers kept paper medical records. Now, digital records are the norm, and the advancements in medical tech are more focused on changing the treatment of patients. By moving the paperwork and administrative aspects of patients’ medical care to the cloud, mid-sized physicians’ offices can be much more productive while reducing costs.