Healthcare specialties find efficiencies and more in the cloud

Among other benefits, cloud services eliminate the downtime that might be caused by on-premise server failure, and the resulting tech support costs and potential patient dissatisfaction due to delayed or rescheduled appointments.

Jeff Rowe | Apr 10, 2018 12:00 am

Just a few years ago, cloud services were primarily seen as a convenient way to store files and share data. Now medical practices are considering cloud services for everything from revenue cycle management to patient engagement tools.

That’s the view from the dermatology sector, anyway, and laid out in a recent article at Dermatology Times about how rapidly and comprehensively the cloud is transforming healthcare.

To lay the foundation, the writer cites some telling statistics from HIMSS Analytics.  To wit, a recent survey found that the number of healthcare provider organizations planning to use the cloud for back-office functions like Office 365 and email jumped from 22.1 percent in 2014 to 46.7 percent in 2016, and it also showed big leaps in the number of organizations planning to use the cloud for health information exchange, human resources and financial applications and BCDR business continuity/disaster recovery.

While the numbers are impressive enough when looking at healthcare as a whole, they’re perhaps even more impressive when specific sectors are examined.

For example, according to Jason Tammaro, vice president of sales at Nextech, a provider of electronic medical record (EMR) and practice management software for dermatology, plastic surgery, and other medical specialties, “We have been in business for over 20 years, and historically we were server-based.  (But) over the past two years, we’ve seen a huge shift to the cloud, where I would say about 90-95 percent of our net new business is going to the subscription-based model.”

One big reason, Tammaro notes, is that unlike buying software, which must be manually upgraded, dermatologists who opt for the cloud product pay a monthly subscription fee to access applications hosted on Nextech’s servers.

“All of our updates are done at once live. It’s a much more streamlined process from the server model where historically we worked with each client individually to come in and update their systems. Now, we click a button and everybody on the cloud gets that update at once,” Tammaro said.

Proponents say cloud-based technology can reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs in dermatology practices, while some practice management systems allow for better integration of EMR, practice management applications, and imaging software to improve the efficiency of a practice, and potentially the bottom line.

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