There's a good reason that medical practices, hospitals, and EMS agencies are willing to trust cloud-based services.
Is working in the cloud the right option for EMS? If you listen to the experts at InfoWorld, it is the only option no matter what your industry, but it is not difficult to understand the special concerns of emergency service providers.
EMS has a responsibility to the public that includes keeping their personal information private. At the same time, the EMS community is facing the same budget restrictions and security issues as any other medical business. Health care reform is tightening regulations for every discipline including emergency medical services. To understand why EMS is moving to the cloud, you need to know more about the technology.
What is Cloud Computing?
It is not a complex concept. Simply put, working in the cloud means a certain percentage of your computing is done via the Internet as opposed to on-site. When an organization is said to be working in the cloud, it can mean different things but most often it refers to the hosting of the software and database at a data center and not in your office.
People just like you work in the cloud all the time, although they may not realize it. Every time they post a status update on Facebook or send an email, they are utilizing cloud computing.
The EMS Cloud is Expanding
The healthcare cloud is a little different than social media, though. The healthcare sector has different concerns about privacy and reliability. EMS is a large-volume, high-paced utility with intricate communication requirements. There is patient confidentiality to consider and regulations that must be adhered to, as well. The special needs of healthcare are one reason this industry has lagged behind others in implementing cloud services.
Forbes magazine reports that 83 percent of healthcare organizations are using the cloud these days. Only six percent of the providers surveyed stated they were not interested in cloud technology.
There is a reason that medical practices, hospitals and EMS agencies are willing to trust cloud-based services, though. Cloud technology is allowing them to augment their capabilities and add value not only for the staff but for their patients and community, as well.
How EMS Benefits from Cloud Technology
The main reason EMS professionals are moving to the cloud is because it offers unique benefits they can’t get from on-site software. A cloud solution is:
- Fast to deploy
- Easy to manage
- Able to reduce operating expenses
- 24/7 access
- Increased security through off site physical location of servers
- Able to reduce operating expenses
- Stronger compliance
- Improved employee satisfaction
Working in the cloud means emergency medical services need fewer IT specialists on-site to support their servers and system. The monthly subscription you pay for your online EMS system includes all the necessary support. This also cuts back on hardware expenditures (servers, etc.), because all most locations need is a computer and high-speed Internet.
Trusting your applications to the cloud allows you to work on the latest version of the software, as well. No more paying for upgrades and worrying about whether your system is HIPAA compliant. The hosting company does all the legwork to ensure the hardware is state-of-the-art, that there is enhanced security in place and you have network support available 24/7.
What Cloud Services Are Available to EMS?
The function of your cloud service will depend on a number of factors, but the right platform can host:
- An integrated EMS workflow suite
- EMS Dispatch
- Patient Care Reporting (ePCR)
- EMS Billing and reimbursement management
- A practical mix of services that will improve security and performance
- An intuitive and user-friendly interface
- Access anytime and anywhere there is a high-speed internet connection
- Although not required, real cost savings and efficiency is recognized when you utilize cloud based workflow all the way through from dispatch to electronic patient care, all the way through to billing
Is EMS Software Right for You?
If you represent an EMS agency considering whether or not working in the cloud is the right option, consider how much of the reporting and billing work your company does manually? That in itself is enough of a reason to consider an online system. Manual reports and hand processing are difficult to manage and often inaccurate. A cloud system will not only speed up reporting, but it will compile statistics that you can use to improve workflow.
Take a look at the hardware you need to run your EMS service. Do you have the current technology in place? What about the software? Are you running the latest versions? Are you protected from viruses? Prepared for a security audit? With a cloud service, you don’t need to even think about it or worry about budgeting for services like this.
What about EMS cloud based training? Are you looking for better training and a shorter ramp-up time, including easier setup? Working in the cloud expands the access your professionals have to training materials. You can incorporate continuing education opportunities and even security training into a cloud system. The Journal of Emergency Medical Services explains that many security breaches that occur are related to the users. Better training improves compliance and reduces the risk of compromise, so there are fewer concerns.
Cloud technology is no longer the future of healthcare, it is the present. Providers are already working in the cloud, now it’s time for EMS to catch up. That’s why emergency services are taking advantage of the newest technology and moving up to the cloud.