Imagine enterprise software that’s as easy to install and access as your email — that’s what cloud-based applications are all about. Instead of purchasing servers and software and hiring IT experts to install and support them, you subscribe to a software service and pay a monthly fee, much like your cell phone or internet connection.
There are many convenience factors to having your billing function “in the cloud,” and we’ll get to those, but let’s first look at the all-important security and regulation advantages.
There are 49 HIPAA compliance rules that must be met by billing software used by medical practitioners, including administrative, physical, technical, organizational, and documentation safeguards. A typical in-house, server-based program addresses 9 of them. In contrast, a cloud-based billing application meets 32 of them.
Another tough nut for small and mid-sized medical practices to crack is data security. Ideally, you should have nightly backup and redundant systems to ensure your patient data is never hacked or lost in a hard-drive crash. In reality, that level of security is prohibitively expensive. Cloud-based applications have extremely high-levels of security “baked in”—it’s included in your monthly subscription.
Now, let’s look at the convenience factors:
- Any authorized user in your practice can access the billing information they need using any device with web access (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.)
- Billers can work remotely just as effectively as in your office, whether it’s for a day to take care of a sick child or a permanent, remote position.
- No physical software installation means no need for additional servers, no software administrator, no maintenance costs and no need to install system updates (they are automatic).
- Expanding your users is as simple as sending an email to add a seat. No need to involve IT and no additional support costs.
- Keeping up with changes to Medicare and other payer regulations is vastly simplified through automatic upgrades to the cloud application.
It may sound strange to talk about your patient data being “in the cloud,” but such applications have so many advantages and so few drawbacks that large corporations (and many savvy smaller ones) moved to this software model years ago. It’s time for medical practices to follow suit.
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