What are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing for physical therapy clinics?
Cloud computing has been in use for quite some time. Everyone who accesses their email online (webmail) is using a form of cloud computing. In the coming years, there will be an even greater use of cloud computing. Google Apps and MSOffice 365 are poised to centralize word processing and spreadsheet functions. Online backups, such as Mozy, Carbonite and Jungle Disk are becoming the standard as is online picture storage (Shutterfly and Photobucket).
Cloud computing is perfect for these functions. Being able to access your data from any computer that has an internet connection allows the user to be more mobile and more productive.
However, depending on a working internet connection to access time-critical data is much more worrisome. In a clinic setting, users must be able to access patient data immediately. And if their internet connection is not working, even for a short period, they will not be able to check in or schedule patients, review past documentation or check on the status of a claim until their internet connection is restored. Most businesses can wait 30 minutes to access their email, but cannot wait 30 minutes when they have a waiting room full of patients.
Installed software generally offers more security and dependability. It also offers greater speed. Accessing data over a local network as opposed to retrieving data over the internet is much faster. And what happens to your data if your cloud-computing vendor goes out of business?
A common misconception is that physical therapy cloud software is easier to use than installed software. Just because software is available over the internet does not mean that is easier to use. In fact, depending on the way the interface is laid out, online software can be more difficult to navigate. Any potential user should fully evaluate a software’s interface before deciding on a particular package.
Another misconception is that physical therapy cloud computing is less expensive because a business does not have to maintain costly hardware. But, every user must have a computer that is on a network so they can access their software and patient data. Thus, a business must purchase and maintain hardware and insure the viability of their computer network.
In the current software environment, users should expect to have the option of using installed software, a cloud version or a combination of the two. The perfect scenario is to have installed software that is distributed over a local network. And if the computer that contains the clinic’s data or their network were to fail, then users could access their data via the internet until the hardware or network is repaired. Mobile users could also access from any computer that has an internet connection (but, again, understanding the limitations of spotty internet service).
Planetrehab offers the installed/cloud hybrid physical therapy software.