In the current arena, most physicians and healthcare facilities large and small – still point to cost as the major roadblock to an EHR implementation. There is growing concern not only over the initial upfront costs of EHR adoption, but the down line costs of security, operation, and maintenance.
For many the idea of using an Application Service Provider (ASP) for EMRs and other healthcare IT solutions is becoming increasingly attractive. An application service provider is a company that offers individuals or enterprises access over the Internet to applications and related IT services that would otherwise have to be located on their own computers. This “apps-on-tap” approach has created outsourcing opportunities in several areas of IT, and is expected to be a growing alternative in the EHR industry.
NOTE: The Acronym ASP also refers to Active Server Pages – which is a Microsoft Web design and scripting application. For the purposes of this article, and all future discussions of ASP as it relates to the EHR industry, we are referring to the Application Service Provider definition.
An ASP would typically provide an EHR to a practice on a subscription basis. This can spare the practice the headaches of hardware purchases and setting up a computer network. The ASP and not the physician’s office hosts and maintains the EHR, and all patient and practice data via a secure hosting facility. All the office needs is a high-speed internet connection.
ASP hosted EHRs take security very seriously. They protect the transfer of data using HIPAA compliant encryption protocols and firewalls. Most ASPs also provide built in redundancy and backups in the case of catastrophic weather events, and therefore may actually offer an additional layer of protection that is not always part of an in-house EHR.
In response to the growing interest in third party suppliers of EHR solutions, the government has announced it will be beta testing an ASP EHR accreditation program in Maryland. The Application Service Provider Accreditation Program for Electronic Health Records seeks to assess vendors that remotely provide EHRs to hospitals and physicians.
The program will evaluate products against criteria based on:
· Technical Performance
· Business Practices
According to a report in Government Health IT, the accrediting group hopes to take the program national once the beta test has been completed, and the accreditation criteria finalized and approved.