A Middle Ground
The return on your investment obviously does not come from storage and retrieval of data alone. IaaS provides other types of support, such as securing data, providing redundancy and insuring compliance with the ever-increasing burden of HIPAA regulations. The question is: Do you need a cloud facility for a small- or medium-sized practice to get these services? The answer is no.
Explore This IssueJuly 2012
There is a middle ground that works well, but you will have to secure local or regional expertise. If you have more than one clinic or site for your employees, you are going to have to rely on the Internet to connect to your main server. This means that your system will have to be set up with one or more sites that are remote, connecting into the main server. That being the case, you could just as well have all sites connect to a server remotely.
So maybe you can have your cake and eat it too. Own your server and have local or regional IT services with healthcare expertise set up your network and maintain your servers. This way, you can meet your system requirements and not worry about your data security and backup.
To be sure, cloud services such as IaaS are here to stay and will play a role in large enterprise systems that have to flex usage up and down. It may very well play a role for smaller practices in the future too, but for now, you must carefully scrutinize the costs to make sure there is a reasonable return on your investment.
Rodney Lusk, MD, is director of the Boys Town Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic and Cochlear Implant Center at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Neb. He has been working with EMRs since 1996. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.