Is Your EHR Truly “Cloud-Based”?

July 14, 2015

5 questions a cloud-seeking organization should ask itself

For organizations that would rather focus more on operating than maintaining an IT infrastructure, a cloud-based solution makes a lot of sense. The Cloud has demonstrated tremendous value by improving accessibility, security, and maintenance, making it a popular choice for companies that don’t want the responsibility of supporting their systems in-house.
Be careful, however, for not all hosted software offerings marketed as cloud are truly that. Many vendors purport cloud-like features as part of their services, while still being mired down in legacy infrastructures. This pseudo-cloud approach falls short of the advantages in cost, dependability, and scalability that a true cloud provides, so it is important for organizations seeking the value of the cloud to be able to recognize the difference.

How might you do that, you ask? Consider the following questions:

1. Is my vendor claiming the same advantages as on-premise vendors?

True cloud vendors design their solutions from the ground up for the cloud: They code their software to perform better as a fully hosted solution. They build talent and expertise around hosting, maintaining, and managing the software. They leverage innumerable servers and multiple levels of data redundancy in their own cloud environments.

These benefits are unique to a true cloud, so if you catch your EHR vendor touting the same old advantages as other on-premise vendors, chances are you aren’t being offered a true cloud solution.

2. Is my cloud solution built to be multi-tenant?

Often times when an EHR is deployed in a single-customer model, it is because it was built on a legacy foundation. It wasn’t designed to support multi-tenancy: many clients securely sharing the same database infrastructure.

Rather than re-architecting the product, these vendors will end up hosting implementations on a by-customer basis. This places a strain on the resources of both customer and vendor, both of whom must undergo continuous implementation in order to take advantage of the product’s improvements.

A true cloud provider will typically provide the same solution from the same cloud to multiple customers. Not only does this method contribute to the high efficiency of cost that cloud services are known for, it gives the entire customer base continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades. This means that agencies can spend more time with new functionality that drives their business forward, instead of worrying about lengthy implementation periods and down time.

3. Does my vendor guarantee uptime?

There are few things worse for your business than having your systems go down. It doesn’t matter how powerful your application is if you don’t have access to your data.

One of the fundamental measures of value in a cloud solution is its utter dependability. This is accomplished through a high-performance IT infrastructure backed by redundant data storage. A true cloud vendor should include an uptime guarantee in its service level agreement and publish its uptime status online. Look for a published history of uptime and downtime spanning at least the last two years, and be wary of vendors with spotty records or choose to not be completely transparent.

4. How scalable is my cloud solution?

Scalability is important for an organization, providing a useful safety net for when needs and demands change. Unfortunately, most legacy systems aren’t designed to keep up with the evolving needs of today’s businesses. Such vendors typically offer their services in fixed-size packages instead of resizing their customer accounts. This forces the customer to over-invest in order to accommodate unforeseen growth.

A true cloud solution should be able to adjust systems and infrastructure to meet the changing demands of its users, no matter how big or small they might be. The ability to alter computing resources in accordance with business demands is a tremendous benefit, whether you are large and hoping to reduce waste, or small but on the cusp of significant growth. It is simply not possible with a fixed program.

5. Is my vendor offering a customizable, or configurable solution?

Yes, there is a difference – an important one! Legacy systems are often custom-built based to address individual customer requirements. This is accomplished by re-coding the application itself. While this addresses the unique needs of the customer (at least, initially), it makes future upgrades cost-prohibitive. The cost of re-coding, testing, and transitioning custom applications from older to newer versions is passed to the client, forcing them to decide between being isolated to older hard-coded releases or go through the long and costly process of custom application upgrades.

In contrast, a true cloud solution offers configurable platforms that are built to accommodate a wide variety of business functions. This method addresses the unique requirements of the customer, while eliminating the hundreds of hours of engineering time that would otherwise be needed to build a customized application. More importantly, a configurable platform keeps the application on the same upgradable path, making the transition between releases seamless, no matter how your business is configured.

It is important for an organization interested in a cloud solution to know exactly what it is buying before it makes the transition. Legacy vendors recognize the market need for the cloud and now tailor their offerings to seem more cloud-like. If you find that your vendor can’t deliver the multi-tenancy, dependability, and scalability characteristic of a true cloud, chances are you don’t have one.

In order to see a demonstration of the Valant EHR and speak to a representative to learn more about how we leverage the cloud, simply click here to see a demonstration:

Last Updated: March 29, 2017