Access to medical records is an important factor in patient care. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) give physicians, labs, and other health care providers access to patient information from many different facilities. Unfortunately, at this time, access is generally limited to one health care facility such as a specific hospital or doctor’s office.
When a doctor refers a patient to a specialist, the specialist’s office usually is required to contact the referring doctor to request the patient’s records. This is not only inconvenient but also time consuming. Even doctors in the same medical group, but at different locations may not have access to a completed patient’s record. Cloud computing can be an answer to this dilemma.
With cloud computing, a third party is used at a remote location to store data and provide IT support. Information on the third party server is secure and can be accessed only by authorized parties. Cloud computing also gives access of EMR’s to all of the health care professionals involved in a patient’s care.
Their primary care doctor can easily monitor patient care as well as the attending physician treating the patient in the hospital. Doctors can view x-rays, receive lab reports, and update a patient’s EMR from any location that has access to the cloud. This improves patient care by speeding up the flow of information.
Security is a primary concern about cloud computing and converting patient records to EMRs. Some patients and physicians are concerned with privacy of the electronic medical records and the possibility of access by outside entities. Similar concerns were popular when the banking industry began switching to online banking. The banking industry has addressed this issue with ample success.
The medical industry can take note from the success of online banking and implement similar security measures. Requiring the records to be password protected and encrypted, while only allowing access to authorized personnel is a start. Records also can be encrypted during transmission to deter interception by unauthorized parties. This protects patient privacy and complies with the current HIPAA laws.
A major advantage to cloud computing, not only for the medical field but also for all businesses, is the amount of money it saves. A typical IT department is an expensive expenditure. The site must have at least one server and IT techs to maintain the network. All of this is done remotely with cloud computing. Hospitals can take advantage of cloud computing and save a substantial amount of money long-term while increasing efficiency.
The facility only pays for the services it uses and for the period of time it needs these services. This is especially beneficial to smaller practices and hospitals. Instead of hiring a large staff to set up and maintain the computer needs of a facility, all of these needs are met by cloud computing. Cloud computing not only saves medical facilities money, but also it can also improve patient care with instant access to a patient’s EMR across a broad range of locations.