By: Saud Juman, CEO PolicyMedical
Approximately 13 years ago when I founded PolicyMedical, all healthcare policy management software had to be installed within the hospital or long term care facility’s environment. This usually meant one of our implementation specialists hopping on a flight to travel to the hospital. Once there they would spend about 4-7 hours installing the software in the client’s server room alongside the hospital’s network data base analyst.
Well as they say, that model is now ancient history. With the advent and maturity of cloud-based environments, deploying software in a highly secure, easy to access and extremely reliable environment has never been easier. Please note that this article is referring specifically to cloud based environments, rather than software as a service (SAAS), application service provider (ASP), or co-located server environments. These three are not the same as a cloud based environment. While on the surface the differences are subtle, the nuances that set a cloud environment apart lead to significant advantages.
Before I get into the advantages of going cloud and why more than 2000 hospitals and long term care facilities are trusting PolicyMedical’s cloud-based solution to deliver their healthcare policy management software, I would like to acknowledge the elephant in the room: there are still many healthcare organizations that have a great deal of discomfort and anxiety about going to the cloud. These organizations are usually small to medium sized organizations, but from time to time we do see chains, health systems and integrated delivery networks with similar trepidations. Unfortunately, these fears are usually fueled by misinformation. Here are a few common scenarios that surface on a weekly to monthly basis here at PolicyMedical from prospective customers and their information technology staff:
“Our hospital just doesn’t do the cloud. We need a local installation of your policy management software. We have never done the cloud in this organization. I use the cloud personally and I know that we will have to start using it in the future. However right now we don’t do the cloud.”
“If we put all of our documents and policies in the cloud, then other hospitals and long term care facilities will be able to see and steal our policies, right?”
“We are really concerned about uptime and availability of our policy management software. And what about back-ups and disaster recovery?”
“Our IT staff is overworked and has minimal time to maintain another solution. In fact we are getting ready to roll-out an enterprise wide EMR/EHR solution and there will be virtually no additional IT resources available to manage this new cloud-based system.”
It is precisely because of these concerns that hospitals and long term care facilities need to take the leap! It’s time to join other leading healthcare providers in trusting the cloud environment for their policy management needs. A reputable cloud-based solution actually remedies all of the concerns above.
From a white paper published by HIMSS earlier this year some of the benefits of cloud-based IT infrastructure are:
• Frees on-site IT staff to focus on other high-value, clinically focused projects
• Helps increase adoption of clinical applications
• Reduces up-front hardware investment
• Saves hospitals expense of upgrades to meet future regulatory requirements
• Supports more rapid Meaningful Use Attestation
• Creates more predictable IT expenses
• Backs up clinical data and other critical data
• Makes 24/7 a reality for hospitals
One final point is the total cost of ownership. The traditional client server model usually had a perpetual software pricing model attached to it. There would be a large up front expense, along with a maintenance cost of between 15%-22% of first year acquisition cost. In this model, hospitals and long term care facilities had to internally pitch for the necessary dollars in their annual capital budget request. We all know how long and unpredictable this process is. In contrast, cloud-based policy management solutions are usually priced with a subscription based pricing model. This is much lower than the initial perpetual software payment but with an annual fee that is a bit higher than the 15%-22% maintenance fee associated with the perpetual model. This usually takes the acquisition cost into a lower threshold that now makes using an operational budget or a combination of a few operational budgets a reality.
For small hospitals and long term care facilities with lean IT resources, this makes perfect sense as you can have best solutions and applications completely maintained, supported and backed up by the vendor. For medium to large hospitals and long term care facilities, trusting a vendor like PolicyMedical with a stand-alone policy management software solution that houses zero PHI and is usually stand alone makes perfect sense. It means internal IT resources can focus on other more complex projects.
It is our opinion that cloud based policy management systems and cloud- based systems overall will become more and more prevalent as the months and years go by. While this is a scary thought for many IT professionals within healthcare, it is a trend that we believe will ultimately become the norm. To prove this point even further the Washington Post published an article that announced “Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud services company, has received a security authorization that would allow it to work with all agencies within the Department of Defense”. Here is a link to the article – http://wapo.st/1rOsud4. PolicyMedical’s cloud-based policy management software solution is actually housed in Amazon Web Services.
So if you’re reading this in your hospital or long-term care facility’s nice and cool air conditioned IT server room, I hope that you will join us up in the cloud very soon!