So, you heard about this cloud thing and you think it’s the coolest thing to hit the eyecare industry. You’re ready to jump on this cloud computing bandwagon and you start looking into a cloud-based EHR and practice management solution. But as soon as you start doing your research, you realize that there are different types of cloud technology! Cloud-based and cloud hosted – are they different? They sound the same! We’re here to set cloud computing for optometrists straight! We’ve included a quick breakdown of what you may or may not like from each technology. And you get to decide which best suits your practice!
Cloud-hosted refers to the situation where your software vendor hosts your servers and data remotely. You will access the same application that you would use if you had a local server; it’s just not stored in your practice.
Cloud-hosted solutions are mostly based on an Application Service Provider (ASP) model. This means that data is hosted and accessed through the Internet, but the server where the data lives is managed by a third party vendor. The vendor also takes care of your server and hardware installation, maintenance, and security. This means that you save on purchasing hardware and there is no need to hire an IT consultant.
Implementation of the software is easier compared to client-servers, but still requires manual installation on the device. The software will have to be downloaded or installed on the computer or device that will be accessing the system, so you can only access it using the computers or devices where the software is installed. There might be additional hardware compatibility requirements to consider as well.
Your data is backed up automatically by the vendor, but you could still be responsible for purchasing and installing another copy of the software if you get a new computer. And you might have to purchase a VPN client when accessing the software from a remote location.
When using ASPs, getting the latest upgrades can be difficult since they are designed for individual providers. Most cloud-hosted vendors combine all maintenance and upgrades at once, which can make updates as infrequent as once a year. It might have to be done manually either by installing or downloading the latest version of the software.
Cloud-based solutions are accessed and programmed through the Internet without having to store servers or software locally.
Cloud-based solutions are available through an Internet browser and use a “Software-as-a-Service” model (SaaS). That means you don’t have to worry about expensive in-house servers or ongoing maintenance costs. On top of saving on upfront costs, cloud-based solutions use a “pay-as-you-go” pricing model, which means you get affordable and predictable monthly pricing too!
Because it is accessible through an Internet browser, you get to pick any device and operating system that supports browsers. Whether you are a PC or Mac user, or prefer the iPad to an Android device, you get the freedom to choose your platform.
Cloud-based solutions are also built using the latest technology, so cloud-based users experience user-friendly interfaces and greater interoperability than users of cloud-hosted solutions.
Still need more information about cloud-based and cloud-hosted solutions? Download our buying guide for a full breakdown of the different technologies, and we’ve even included a fun flowchart for you to see which solution will fit your practice’s needs!