When hospitals and medical practices across the country started using electronic medical records in the early ’90s, everyone used a client-server model. The internet, of course, changed things a bit, so now when prospective clients do their research before adopting an EHR, they must decide if they want a client-server or cloud (hosted) model.
Most EHR vendors today offer both solutions, but competition among cloud-based models is gaining momentum as more providers choose a cloud EHR model over a client-server model.
There are pros and cons to each solution, but here’s a quick overview of what each option entails:
- Higher up-front costs. Doctors have to pay for their EHR in full before implementing the software. In addition, they may also have to purchase new hardware so the software will work properly, which also means the practice will need an IT guy or two to make sure the systems are always up and running.
- An internet connection is not required to access EHR data. Most practices in rural areas choose a client-server EHR primarily for this reason.
- A doctor must be connected to the server in order to access the EHR, however. This limits mobility somewhat.
- The doctor owns the data. Data is stored at the clinic and is not managed in any part by the EHR vendor.
- Data is more at risk in the event of a natural disaster like a fire or flood.
- Lower up-front costs. Rather than paying a chunk of money at the beginning, providers pay a manageable monthly fee. This could end up being more costly in the long run, but practices will save in other areas because they won’t have to install new hardware or employ an IT team.
- An internet connection is required to access the EHR.
- Doctors can access records using whatever device they want—computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone—as long as it connects to the internet. They can also access records wherever they want, again as long as an internet connection is available.
- The EHR vendor houses the data in a more secure and available environment.
- Data is stored offsite, meaning that data will still be accessible in the event that disaster strikes the clinic.
Most practices today are opting for a cloud-based EHR. The limited hardware requirements and significantly lower up-front cost are very attractive pros for those debating between the two solutions. The client-server solution is still a good option for many practices, but in the future most, if not all, doctors will be using their EHR in the cloud.