Is the Cloud Safe for Medical Billing Data?


In theory, the cloud is supposed to do little other than make our lives simpler; but in reality it can absolutely drive us nuts (not-so-scary) and leave us open to cyber threats from malicious thugs (very scary).
 
So, just how safe is the cloud and can we trust online software to keep our sensitive medical billing data secure from a breach?
 
The short answer is: yes, we can.
 
Cloud computing has made tremendous advances in the last 5 years and great efforts have been and continue to be made to keep sensitive information (like patient information) safe from prying digital eyes.
 
Having said that, not all practice management software is equal, and before you sign on the dotted line with a vendor, best to do your due diligence and ask a few questions first. In order to determine whether a cloud-based solution will fit your particular business needs, you will want to ask:
 
1. Can you try out their system with your processes in what’s called a “sandbox” environment to see if it will ‘play nicely’?
2. Does the software vendor understand and work with other physicians that share your specialty?
3. Does the vendor have a good track record of trustworthiness?
4. Will they provide references that you may contact?
 
Even though cloud computing has been around for some time now, it’s important to trust your concerns and ask the right questions before getting into a contract with anyone. Should a potential partner not want to answer all of these question or share references, this should be a red flag.
 
The important thing is to be 100% completely comfortable with the provider you choose, but to also understand that full trust will be gained over time.
 
Benefits of Cloud-Based Practice Management Software
Now that you know you can trust many cloud-based providers, let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits you’ll receive by using online medical billing software.
 
Easy Implementation
Since cloud-based solutions run on the web instead of on desktop software, there is no hardware or software for you to install. The real benefit of this is that practice owners won’t experience any interruption to their cash flow as well as experience a faster return on their investment.
 
Bigger Savings 
Many small practices face a significant financial hurdle when they install medical billing software. Between the initial hefty out of pocket expense and the costs of maintaining and updating the system, practices can spend tens of thousands of dollars.
 
Now consider the fact that cloud-based medical billing software requires no installation or software licenses, and implementation is generally a fraction of the cost, and you can see how much more affordable these solutions are for small- to medium-sized practices. For just a small monthly fee, practice owners can have access to advanced technology and vendor support, making medical billing easy and efficient.
 
Minimal Information Technology (IT) Resource Requirements
When practice owners choose to move their billing to the cloud, they have far less need for onsite IT support. No need to employ an IT specialist to install, configure, test, run, secure and update hardware and software, all of these tasks are done by the medical billing provider. Updates are also automatically deployed in web-based systems, so practice owners never have to worry about running on an out-of-date version of the software.
 
Superior Accessibility and Collaboration 
All users may access and securely log in to the system from anywhere where there is an Internet connection. This freedom allows physicians and staff, as well as their patients, to collaborate effectively in a secure environment so the best care may be offered.
 
Seamless Scalability
If you’re a small practice looking to grow, you no doubt know about common IT growing pains most practices experience. Cloud-based practice management software makes scalability seamless and painless, allowing the additions of new doctors, users, and even locations. And, as I’ve already mentioned, small practices can now grow without breaking their bank.
 
Greater Security
I started this post explaining that cloud-based practice management software has come a long way and, depending on individual vendors, can be a very safe way to conduct business. What I didn’t mention was that web-based medical billing solutions can often deliver greater security than client-server systems or even traditional paper records.
 
Cloud-based systems achieve HIPAA compliance using data centers that offer bank-level security and high-level encryption methods that make data unreadable. Most client-server systems are not able to deliver this level of encryption and the data is only as secure as the room where the system is located.
 
For those practice owners who still believe paper is the best and safest way to go, it takes only a single fire or flood to destroy countless patient records. Cloud-based data is also backed up securely in multiple locations.
 
All of us have been allowing more and more of our sensitive data to be stored in the cloud via e-mail platforms, online banking, and social sites. It was only a matter of time before practice management software made the move. Ultimately, cloud-based medical billing provides practices of all sizes great advantages in cost savings, data accessibility and security.
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