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Why Software-as-a-Service is taking off in healthcare

With SaaS, vendors are charged with monitoring and maintaining the application, which helps healthcare organizations stay more secure because they don’t need to depend on end users to upgrade their tools.

Jeff Rowe | Nov 01, 2017 12:26 pm

Healthcare Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are becoming increasingly common as organizations turn to them as a more affordable way of deploying cloud-based EHRs.

That’s according to writer Elizbeth O’Dowd, who noted in a recent piece at HITInfrastructure that “the main difference between SaaS and other cloud-based models is the amount of control the organization has over the applications. SaaS requires less development and hands on maintenance because it is not up to the organization to invest in staff or hardware.”

Still, she cautioned, organizations need to realize the benefits and drawbacks of SaaS-based options and decide if SaaS is the best fit for their cloud goals.

The most basic form of cloud computing, with centrally stored data accessed by users through a web browser, SaaS solutions work well for organizations with smaller IT departments because most of the maintenance and upkeep of the solution is performed by the vendor.

“SaaS tools allow software to be run on the endpoint device without any data actually being stored on the device,” O’Dowd explained. “The data is stored off-site and users access it using the internet. SaaS deployment can be leveraged for several health IT functions, EHRs, medical practice management systems, and health information exchange (HIE).”

She added that one of the advantages of SaaS is that the cost is more predictable than other cloud-based deployment models, and “organizations can save on staff because entities don’t need dedicated on-site developers managing SaaS applications.”

Entities also do not need to purchase hardware such as servers or the software required to build and support the applications. Most SaaS-based tools have a monthly subscription fee, so the costs are based on what resources are being used and can be adjusted as needed.

O’Dowd also noted the federal ONC supports SaaS for better data exchange because data from many different organizations can be stored and processed in a more uniform way, potentially helping with interoperability issues.