We understand that making a big change in your optometry software can be tough, and sometimes even daunting. With hundreds of different technology options available, it can get confusing to realize which option is the right one for you. But the only way you'll know is if you take the time to see what all is out there! We can't make the decision for you, but one thing we can help you with is understanding all of the hardware and IT costs associated with certain types of practice management and EHR systems.
If you're planning on purchasing a new practice management solution, you'll need to factor in the costs of potential IT support that you might need to install and maintain your system. If you purchase a client-server system, not only will you have to install the software on each computer, but you'll have to setup and maintain a server in your practice. Server setup and maintenance requires a lot of technical knowledge that might require you to outsource the work to an IT consultant. This is where the costs can add up. With cloud-based practice management your software and servers are hosted and maintained outside of your practice by your vendor, so maintenance isn't an extra cost you would have to worry about.
As we mentioned before, with client-server software you're in charge of the servers in your practice, which means you're also in charge of keeping them secure. Costs for added security of your system will vary, but it's definitely a conversation to have when choosing a system. Cloud-based vendors handle security for you. Most cloud service providers back up your data in at least three places, which likely comes included with your monthly fee. For extra security you can also request back up storage in your practice.
While cloud-based security may be scary to some people, most vendors use separate data bases for each user, secure data centers with a number of physical controls to prevent unauthorized access, and a number of other measures to ensure privacy and security at all times. Cloud-based systems are also 100% HIPAA compliant and meet governemnt security standards for data transmission and storage.
Another cost to consider when purchasing a new software is the cost of add-on solutions that you might need to purchase to complete your practice management and EHR. Purchasing third party solutions will require working with an additional vendor, integrating the two systems to work together, and taking the time to learn a new interface and system.
Some systems might come with embedded tools that are already built into the practice management and EHR system which will help you avoid the hassle and costs of purchasing additional add-on tools. Examples of embedded tools could be E-Prescribing, patient education, patient reminders, and insurance coding. Having these tools built right into a system is going to save time by being easier for your staff to learn, and not having to log in and out between systems.
Many systems restrict your practice to your office, are made specifically for desktop computers, or as an app for your iPad. With cloud-based software, you don't have to feel trapped in your office bubble with just one computer to rely on. Through modified versions of the software for tablets and computers, cloud-based practice management systems give you the flexibilty to connect with your work anywhere, even outside of the office.
With a client-server software you might need to purchase a VPN software to gain access to your system from outside of the office, just another cost to consider if easy access to your data is a concern!
Thinking hard about your practice management and EHR software purchase? Check out our buying guide that will help you evaluate which system is right for you!