Practices turn to cloud-based partners to manage industry changes

Ken Comee - Norwest Venture Partners

Ken Comée, Chief Executive Officer, CareCloud

Practice leaders and healthcare IT professionals are migrating to cloud solutions in search of new ways to navigate an increasingly complex business and regulatory environment. The changing industry landscape requires providers to adapt quickly to new factors like growing patient cost obligations and rising payer complexity.

Technology, particularly cloud-based solutions, can help practices remain agile in a changing environment, which explains the rapid movement to the cloud, both in the private and public sectors. Last year, the federal government’s cloud-first strategy began to accelerate, with an FCW analyst predicting more rapid cloud adoption over the next three to five years.

In addition to a desire for agility, there are several other issues currently driving cloud adoption, including the following factors:

  • Security and management: Growing IT complexity increases security risks and creates additional hassles around managing on-site infrastructure assets. Cloud solutions offer a simpler alternative to on-site servers, making it easier for healthcare providers to reduce vulnerabilities and eliminate the risky, time-consuming and costly need to manage data, security, servers, implementations, upgrades and other activities associated with an on-premise infrastructure.
  • The search for value: Modern cloud solutions enable providers to significantly improve practice management capabilities so they can start generating greater value more quickly with better practice performance. And cloud solutions, which are typically available on a pay-as-you-go basis, don’t require significant capital outlay, making them easier on organizational budgets. This makes cloud solutions an attractive option for practices that are looking to generate value quickly from an investment in a practice management solution.
  • 24/7 system access: Practices are looking for solutions that enable staff to access software – and data – from outside the office. With a cloud-based solution, software tools are available any time from any device with internet access. That means staff can work from home and maintain flexible schedules that enable them to find a better work-life balance. With the right cloud-based software, doctors can wrap up daily tasks at home, prepare for tomorrow’s workload, easily and securely access patient records to address emergencies and more – right from their phones.

For all of these reasons, cloud services have taken center stage in healthcare operations, and cloud-based healthcare IT solutions like CareCloud are playing a major role in helping practices make the transition to modern practice management solutions. In 2016 and beyond, other healthcare IT trends will become increasingly prominent. Here are factors to watch in the coming months:

  • Greater emphasis on the user experience: Like other IT sectors, healthcare IT has become more consumer-friendly. Today’s practices expect modern intuitive solutions that put healthcare professionals at the center of the design, providing tools like patient portals, online communication platforms and social tools that facilitate better patient engagement and collaboration. This approach not only improves the user experience but enables better outcomes through coordinated care and increased data access. The cloud-based healthcare IT solutions that leave Web 1.0 behind and provide a better user experience will grow market share.
  • Flexible payment and deployment options: Practices are looking for flexible solutions, so healthcare IT products that are offered as a SaaS model and as a software-enabled service are attractive options. Solutions built for the ambulatory care space will also gain greater market share, as will pay-as-you-go options that enable practices to better control staffing and back-office support costs. Services delivered on a subscription model are seamless from the user’s point of view, with minimal startup costs, no IT support requirements and free system upgrades.
  • Extensible platforms and developer-friendly core IT solutions: Today’s practices are drawn to cloud-based healthcare IT solutions that are built on an open platform. This type of solution has a key advantage over legacy systems: In-house engineers seeking extensibility can eliminate data silos, and medical groups can integrate additional software and services that address their specific needs. Flexible, open platforms with developer-driven APIs enable creation of powerful new solutions that can be deployed rapidly, seamlessly and securely.

The healthcare landscape continues to shift, posing significant challenges to physician practices. Surveys, including CareCloud’s Practice Profitability Index, reflect physician concerns. But there is also rising optimism among physicians, thanks at least in part to the emergence of healthcare IT solutions that help practices improve revenue cycle management and patient engagement. Today, more practices are turning to cloud-based partners to navigate a changing industry and finding safe harbor in open source technology.

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