We are all now familiar with the term Cloud computing, or being on the Cloud, but many clinicians and business owners are often still not fully aware of what that actually means, or the real advantages that Cloud delivers for them.
The Cloud simply refers to a solution or software package that is not hosted on a specific machine that you own locally, but is stored on the internet and available via a login from any online device.
To use an easily understood example, Microsoft Word was not originally a Cloud based product - you bought a licence, installed it on your machine or server and any documents you created were stored on that machine. You had to put them on a USB drive or email them to yourself if you wanted to edit them at home or from a different machine.
Google docs is a Cloud based alternative. Simply log in to your google account and your documents are accessible from any device at any time, can be shared and edited in real time with others, and are always backed up to the most recent version.
This model offers so much more convenience for users, and control for suppliers to ensure that the best and most modern version of software is always in use, and uniform security controls and standards apply to all users.
Over the last decade Cloud computing has become the norm in the software service sector. Personal banking, email, social media, document storage, accountancy & payment handling software all commonly rely on the Cloud to deliver their services seamlessly and efficiently to customers.
In the Practice Management Software sector, Cloud-based solutions have existed for some years. AeronaClinic was one of the very first 100% Cloud products in the European market in 2010. In recent years a range of Cloud, and partially Cloud solutions have emerged.
There are a number of very clear advantages to Cloud solutions in the Practice Management sector that are driving high levels of uptake from Clinics and have ensured that Cloud is the platform of choice for the modern and growing business.
- No upfront costs for software licences or hardware
There may be a small set-up fee for a Cloud solution but there are no significant licence fees or any need for new hardware. A regular monthly subscription, with the flexibility to add, reduce, pause or switch suppliers and features, is a key attraction of the Cloud. You can go live with your new software tomorrow without any significant spend.
- No new hardware required
Your software will work with any internet enabled device and you do not need a server, or any complicated hardware in your practice. Your need for IT support within the business will be removed or reduced substantially.
- Data compliance and security
The Cloud is one of the most secure data environments out there. A good provider will be using a data partner with advanced encryption features and multi-site backups that ensure that your data is protected and always available, 24/7 with no downtime. No more worrying about server maintenance or failure, power outages and data security compliance. And you’ll never have to worry about missing a system backup again.
- Ongoing system updates, auto installed in real time
A Cloud solution will be updated on a regular basis with upgrades and improvements to ensure that issues around compliance, security, speed and functionality are continuously addressed and improved. Cloud suppliers are responsive to customer feedback and often roll out new functionality in response to demand, all for no extra cost as part of your monthly subscription.
- Access from any device, at any time, from any location
Cloud-based means access from any online device, at any time, from any location. This means that you can monitor your business from your phone, work from anywhere and deliver quality service to your patients remotely and contactlessly before and after treatment. Your team can work in real time on admin, clinical and business functions from anywhere and all updates are shared in real time across the system for all users.
- Ease of use
Because they are regularly updated and are modern solutions, Cloud systems tend to be easy to use and intuitive to learn. The core elements of many desktop systems are more than twenty years old and they look and feel it!
- Wide ranging feature-set
Cloud systems are scalable and responsive, integrating with a range of other softwares (for imaging, finance etc) and also supporting key features such as integrated video consultations, secure online signing and sharing of documents and online patient communication and engagement tools.
When the benefits of Cloud-based systems are laid out like this, it is very clear why Cloud is the platform of choice in the Practice Management software market today. It is cheaper, more secure, more convenient, more accessible, and the most up to date way to run your business. It is really the only logical choice for the informed clinic or practice.