Due to the radical changes being implemented in the healthcare industry, including the ICD-10 implementation, meaningful use incentives by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Electronic Health Records (EHRs), independent practices face financial hardship, and many are turning to mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as a means to stay afloat. This, of course, is at the expense of their autonomy, as company consolidation can mean big changes to regulation and other policies once they are taken over by larger medical groups and hospitals.
A series of reports from 2013’s Black Book shows revelatory findings in terms of revenue cycle management (RCM) software and billing solutions. As it stands from the hospital members and support staff surveyed, 87% of all physician practices agree their billing and collections systems/processes need upgrading.
The solution independent practices are gravitating towards? Cloud-based EHRs. Basically, cloud-based systems mean all the data and records from a medical practice are externally stored away and have a common access point using the internet. This differs greatly from client-server systems, which require in-house software and hardware at the office.
Here are some insights as to how cloud-based EHRs may be the key to saving independent practices from having to consolidate into a larger medical company or group:
Client-server systems place a greater burden on IT support. Not only that, but it is increasingly more expensive for EHR installation and set-up (this can reach over $25,000 according to The Physicians Foundation), especially if as a physician you are thinking of switching EHRs in the near future.
Security isn’t an issue like paper records and client-server systems have demonstrated in the past. If anything, having encrypted web-based security measures makes breaching security more difficult than if it was locally accessible on a computer. Even if a breach occurs, the data encryption will render it unreadable, so your records are safe.
Forget worrying about constant upgrades and compliancy issues—cloud-based EHRs are HIPAA compliant, so updates can be accomplished automatically over the internet without the hassle.
You aren’t limited to the amount of users you can have on a cloud-based system. This enables small practices to expand without the expensive software licensing or IT appointments that would detract from practice productivity. You pay one monthly fee to use cloud-based EHR, which is software as a service (SaaS)—that’s it.
Auditing is easier than ever because all of your medical records and data are backed up and encrypted online, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing paperwork or losing everything due to a natural disaster, flood or fire.
Many sites that are accessed on a high daily volume (shopping, Facebook, and email) utilize cloud-based EHRs and benefit immensely from the savings in costs and hardware. Both large and small corporations and medical practices can also benefit from what a cloud-based system has to offer. By making it accessible to all users with an internet connection, you can weave a tighter interlocking system for your practice that increases the efficacy and revenue cycle management.
Are you part of the 92% that are only seeking an upgrade that is EHR centric? Tell us about it!