Cloud Computing is a marketing term for Software As A Service (“SAAS”), which is a service in which computer applications are hosted on the provider’s service in a data center and your business pays an annual or monthly fee to use these applications.
Here are a few reasons why use of these applications is becoming so popular:
1. A variety of applications.
Not so long ago, only a handful of cloud-based applications were viable for healthcare. These days Microsoft Office, Exchange and SharePoint platforms are available in the Cloud along with a myriad of applications for Accounting, Pharmacy, Data Mining, and mobile device applications are growing in popularity. Healthcare organizations can save files securely online safeguarding data against disasters, equipment failure and simple human error. Once more, they can even put their EMR/EHR solutions “in the cloud.”
2. Minimal up-front licensing costs.
Let’s face it, software licenses can be expensive, with popular applications running hundreds or thousands of dollars per user. Cloud computing lets healthcare organizations pay for its software as part of a small monthly service fee that includes the hardware it runs on and all the necessary updates and maintenance. By eliminating the purchase of licenses, Cloud Computing frees up capital and IT resources, which can then be used for other projects.
3. Reduction in hardware costs.
These days, most applications require a significant investment in hardware in addition to software. Multiple servers can be involved in these complex environments, requiring a large investment on the part of businesses to purchase and maintain hardware. Even the most basic functions on your network, like network storage and file sharing require big investments in hardware and high risk of obsolescence in an age where storage requirements are growing every day. Cloud Computing puts these server intensive applications on your service providers equipment – dramatically reducing, or even eliminating the need for healthcare organizations to own, install, or maintain servers.
Many Cloud Computing applications like cloud dictation are billed on a per seat or per user basis, so you don’t pay for more hardware or software than you need, and adding users is a simple, affordable, and predicable process. This differs from traditional on- premise solutions, where hardware costs are not nearly as modular, and software licenses are often purchased in blocks.
5. Easy administration.
Too often, lack on-staff IT support and the task gets assigned to third party IT support companies at substantial fees. Even if you have a dedicated IT staff, they’re probably overwhelmed. You didn’t get into healthcare to maintain your workstations, so why not leave that work to someone who did? The hosted applications offered by cloud computing firms are installed, licensed and kept up to date by professional IT staffs so you don’t have to spend the time, and most offer help desk resources and support forums to help your users get the most out of the applications you are using. Implementations are much easier and more quickly accomplished.
6. Work from any PC anywhere.
More and more, people are working in non-traditional settings such as their home, an airport, coffee shop, or a hotel room. Whether your healthcare organization does this to maximize productivity from traveling employees or to help attract top-shelf talent that may not live nearby, these “remote workforces” are becoming increasingly common. In the traditional IT environment, the remote workforce can be a headache for IT teams to manage because it requires the implementation of VPN’s and exposes your organization’s PC’s to potentially unsafe public networks. With Cloud Computing, remote staff can usually log in to your core applications, including cloud dictation, from any web browser on any computing device, even a notebook, smart phone, or tablet, without the need for a VPN.