The EMR of yesterday was a client-server model. The EMR of today is on the cloud. That’s not to say that doctors are no longer using on-premise EMR models—that is far from the case—but most new EMR purchases in the small-practice market are cloud models.
Cost is the main reason small practices (1–4 providers) adopt a cloud model at a higher rate than large practices (5+ providers) and hospitals. Paying a small monthly fee instead of the entire cost up front changes the game for practices that are already struggling to make ends meet. Many practices wouldn’t be using an EMR today if they didn’t have the price flexibility afforded by cloud technology.
But the benefits of the cloud extend far beyond cost. The world has exploded with mobile devices over the past several years, and a lot of doctors want to use their smartphone and/or tablet to access and edit patient records. For doctors especially, whose line between work and home life is by necessity thinner, the ability to access important documents away from the office is extremely important. Typically, doctors would much rather answer time-sensitive questions from where they’re at rather than having to stop what they’re doing to run into the clinic to double-check things.
The cloud also has much greater potential to protect patient records from unexpected disasters. In the event of a flood, earthquake, fire, or other natural disaster, neither paper nor hardware is safe from the damage inflicted on the practice. However, when data is backed up to a secure data center on the cloud, crucial health information will still be available to doctors, even if the power is out or if they have to temporarily practice somewhere else. Doctors in the ire of Hurricane Sandy experienced this first hand and were able to continue to give patients the care they needed despite the turmoil around them.
And finally, time-saving features doctors have loved using in a client-server environment now work just as well in the cloud, including voice recognition, which is highly popular among specialists.
Most doctors still have the choice of whether to use a client-server model or the cloud, and it’s likely that both options will continue to be offered. The benefits of cloud EMRs are particularly striking, however, and they have improved the EMR experience for thousands of doctors throughout the country.