The use of cloud-based software applications has exploded in recent years.
A 2015 study showed that 90 percent of organizations use at least one such application. The same study estimated that 26 percent of IT budgets are now being allotted towards cloud efforts as well.
In healthcare, several new cloud-based applications are rapidly evolving and gaining popularity. Transcription and dictation services are two topping that list. In addition, Nuance has recently announced a cloud-based application, Dragon Medical One, to help small and mid-sized practices improve clinical documentation, providing a viable solution to an industry-wide problem (click here to be notified when it's released).
If your hospital or practice is going to invest in cloud-based software, here are the must-have features to keep in mind.
This feature deserves the number one spot, because if the software isn't HIPAA-compliant, then all other features might as well be moot. With the number of breaches steadily increasing, compliance isn't something to be disregarded or taken lightly.
Look for software that meets or exceeds HIPAA guidelines, especially in terms of encryption. At a minimum, select software that offers 256-bit encryption channels coupled with TLS protocols.
Physicians are on the go now more than ever, even within their practice walls. And the way they use technology has been shifting as well.
An estimated 75 percent of U.S.-based physicians use a smartphone at work and two-thirds of physicians own a tablet, smartphone, and desktop or laptop. Because physicians may be switching between each device throughout the day, software that is compatible with several device types and operating systems is ideal.
With the rise of meaningful use — and the forthcoming switch to value-based care — employing software that is compatible with your existing EMR is key. For example, a cloud-based transcription application should populate completed transcriptions directly into patients' records.
Thanks to significant advances in technology, EMR compatibility has come a long way. Look for cloud-based software that integrates with your EMR, in turn helping to increase EMR adoption and use goals.
Healthcare certainly isn't a one size fits all situation. With a variety of specialties and organization types and sizes, software should have some level of flexibility and customization options. Software that is too rigid can negatively impact the goals of increasing efficiency and productivity.
Look for a solid application that allows for a moderate amount of personalization. This could be something as simple as customizing the interface layout or creating unique templates or notes.
Dedicated technical support
While hospitals may have a dedicated IT team, most physician practices do not. And the cost to hire even one IT person may simply be too burdensome.
One of the biggest benefits of cloud-based applications is that they are lightweight and don't require a massive download of files onto the hard drive or reconfiguration of your current IT infrastructure.
That said, it's still nice to have technical support on standby. Any cloud-based application should come with a dedicated technical support team. While contact is often by phone, email, or live chat, having troubleshooting help available is a must.
What other features do you consider important? Please join the conversation below.