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Differences Between Cloud-Based and Regular EHRs

Aiden Spencer is a health IT researcher and writer at CureMD who focuses on various engaging and informative topics related to the health IT industry. He loves to research and write about topics such as Affordable Care Act, electronic health records, revenue cycle management, privacy, and security of patient health data. You can get in touch with him on Twitter @AidenSpencer15
Today, the focus is on how information collected in electronic health records is stored. Choices are basically up to a physician and his or her comfort level with traditional server-based electronic health record (EHR) storage or cloud-based storage options—and costs.
As with anything, cloud-based and “regular” storage options come with benefits and drawbacks. This discussion is nothing new. Even with advancements in technology and security, the decision to go with cloud or traditional servers is just about split down the middle. So what’s the difference?

Major differences between cloud-based and traditional EHRs

Financial outlay
Financial outlay for a cloud-based EHR/electronic medical record (EMR) systems is less than those associated with traditional EHR systems and their servers. Initial outlay and systems set-up costs for a traditional system installation and implementation can include a number of expenditures for maintenance, software, updates, and licensing fees. 
A cloud-based EHR system does not require licenses for software or hardware installations. A monthly fee is often all that is required with a pay-as-you-go service (software as a service or SaaS).
The cost of a traditional EHR can cost over $100,000. According to one article:
  • Average cost of software, hardware, network connection and peripherals: nearly $6000
  • Average cost of information technology (IT) support: approximately $3000
  • Out-of-pocket expenses during the first 6 months: $6500
Those costs are a bit outdated, but serves the point. Actually, the average outlay of cost for a client/server EHR system is roughly $40,000 today, not including maintenance costs, updates, licensing fees, and so forth. Still, a multi-physician practice can spend much more when it comes to regular EHR implementation, with an additional tens of thousands often ear-marked for maintenance costs during the first year
Compare that to today's integrated and cloud-based EHR systems which are much more affordable and easier to install and maintain. SaaS costs are much more attractive to smaller and independent medical practices not only because of lower upfront costs but due to a lack of IT staff and expertise in smaller practices. 
Of course, other factors must be considered into initial outlay including:
  • Size and specialty/multi-specialties of a practice
  • Need and degree of customization

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