Choosing the right electronic health record (EHR) system for your practice is incredibly important because you and your staff will be interacting with this system daily, relying on it to keep track of and protect all of your confidential patient and office data.
One of the first steps in this process involves deciding whether to use a cloud or server EHR. However, when doing your research, you may come across information about both that isn’t entirely true. With that thought in mind, here are three of the most common myths that seem to be perpetuating about server EHRs.
1. Server EHRs are Easily Secured
Some healthcare professionals select server EHRs over cloud EHRs because they feel that server EHRs are more easily secured. While it’s true that you may have more control over the security of your server when it is physically located at your practice versus relying on a cloud-based EHR provider to follow necessary security guidelines, the reality is that there are still things you need to do to ensure that the data you keep on-site doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
For instance, when you have a server EHR, it is up to you to maintain third party, off-site backups. This helps protect you (and your practice’s information) in the event that there is an issue with your in-office server whether due to a security breach, system failure, natural disaster, or any other type of event that could potentially compromise your data.
Data Recovery Labs recommends that this backup be conducted every 24 hours or, minimally, at least once a week. Additionally, automatic backups are preferred over manually backing up your information, reducing the likelihood that you’ll forget and risk losing more recent data.
With server EHRs, it is also up to you to maintain your own data security via virus protection programs and setting the right firewalls as both of these actions can help keep unauthorized individuals from obtaining and/or destroying your office data.
2. Server EHRs are Less Expensive
Another factor to consider when selecting an EHR is cost. And though server EHRs seem like they may be less expensive, especially since you aren’t paying a regular, recurring fee, there are still a fair amount of expenses associated with this type of on-site recordkeeping system.
For example, because you purchase a server EHR outright, the entire cost of all of the necessary hardware—which includes a router and server—is yours right when you buy the system. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) estimates that this average upfront cost is $33,000 for server EHRs, compared to a cloud EHR which generally requires an initial investment of around $26,000.
Additionally, when you choose to go with a server EHR, it is also up to you to maintain that system so it continues to function appropriately over time. This often requires paying for software upgrades and purchasing a support package, the latter of which involves expenses that must be paid both annually and per incident. The ONC shares that these types of annual costs are roughly $4,000 per year with onsite, server-based systems.
Admittedly, yearly costs of cloud EHRs are usually more ($8,000 according to the ONC), but when you factor in the upfront costs, it takes some time to come out ahead. That is, if you even have the cash on hand to purchase a server EHR to begin with.
3. Server EHRs Offer More Control
One reason practitioners may choose a server EHR is because they believe that an on-site EHR offers more control than an EHR system offered by an internet-based supplier. Though many server EHRs do enable a certain level of customization, there are also a few factors to consider that may, in fact, reduce your level of control with this type of system.
As an example, most server EHRs require that you have a specific operating system (such as Windows or Apple) in order for the EHR to work as designed. In this way, your server EHR choices are somewhat limited by the operating system you currently use unless you want to invest a bunch of money and time into installing and implementing a new operating system in an effort to go with the EHR you want.
Server EHRs also limit your ability to work when you’re not physically in the office since you don’t access them online. You can work around this by contracting with a third party service that enables you to do off-site work via a VPN (virtual private network) or remote desktop, but this will increase your costs as well.
None of this means that server EHRs are inferior to cloud EHRs, or vice versa, but more so to help you understand the realities of choosing this type of recordkeeping system if that’s what you want. Both server and cloud EHRs have their pros and cons, so the more you know about the realities of each, the better your decision will be for you.