Server-based or cloud-based? This is one of the big questions you have to consider when you’re looking to upgrade your practice management software. If you’re not a technology expert, it can be a tough one to work through.
🏥 How do I know a cloud-based system is right for my hospital?
📶 What if my internet connection isn’t dependable?
🔐 How do I make sure my data is protected?
We sat down with Joe Axne, owner and CEO of I.T. Guru, to get answers to some of the top questions we hear from veterinary hospitals considering switching to cloud-based software. Joe has spent the last decade focused on providing a robust array of information technology services for veterinary practices. It’s safe to say he knows his stuff!
Read on to get his take on cloud-based software—and what makes it a worthwhile investment for your hospital.
Why should practices consider migrating to a cloud-based platform?
The big “why” is unlocking efficiencies that enhance your quality of care. Time savings unlocked by cloud-based efficiencies are often the most direct line to quality of care, as more time saved equals more time for clients and patients.
Plus, these days, with staff hard to come by and appointment books constantly at capacity, efficiency can go a long way in keeping patients healthy and clients happy while helping ensure work-life balance for your staff.
There are also the cost-savings to keep in mind when choosing between a server-based platform and a cloud-based one. If you choose server-based software, there are typically large up-front hardware and installation costs, as well as hardware and software upgrades necessary to maintain a stable solution. These upgrades mean you are likely to periodically receive enormous, unexpected bills (especially if your system goes down).
Good cloud solutions, however, offer simple and predictable subscription-based fees. These can be structured a few different ways but in short, they remove unexpected expenditures and typically include maintenance and support costs.
Think long-term about your software needs. What does your growth plan look like? Will you need remote access capabilities? Is efficiency a priority?
Where do you start with the decision-making process?
Start with your team. Learn about their current challenges so you can best understand what could help increase their efficiency.
Keep your actual group of decision-makers small as you review the products and services available. Build a short list of options that can help solve your team’s biggest challenges.
Once you have your shortlist, be sure to get your team’s buy-in to ensure they’ll embrace the decision once it’s made.
Working with your IT partner (if you have one) is also crucial, as they’ll be able to help integrate new software with your existing systems and ideally explain any techno-babble if needed.
What are the requirements for cloud-based software?
With cloud-based software, you won’t have the large up-front and ongoing expenses of a physical server. However, you may want to invest in additional hardware for team efficiency. For example, laptops or tablets can supercharge your team’s workflows, as they’re portable and easy to use anywhere in the hospital.
Not sure what you need? Look for an IT partner who works with software companies staffed by veterinary professionals. They’ll better understand your challenges and know what will work for that particular software platform in your specific environment.
Is the “cloud” safe? What questions should I ask to make sure my data is protected?
Cyber security is complicated, ever-evolving, and carries a lot of risks. The last thing you want is to lose client information to hackers who want to steal their identity.
Good cloud software providers should be experts who keep up with all the latest trends and keep your clients safe—so you can focus on your patients.
Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating a software provider’s approach to data protection:
- Can we see the data sections of your software agreement?
- Do you facilitate compliance with GDPR and/or CCPA?
- What other parts of your company access our data?
- Do you share or sell our data with anyone?
- What training does your staff receive on protecting our data?
- How is our data segmented from other customer data?
What would you say makes a practice successful when implementing a new platform? Is there a “secret sauce” that makes one practice have a smoother process than another?
No matter the size of your veterinary hospital, going live with a new software platform is a big deal.
Here are my top tips for ensuring a successful transition:
- Get review and buy-in from employees, partners, and managers.
- Watch or attend demos and choose your top 1 to 2 choices from the most promising demos.
- Make the final decision to proceed as a committee—not in a silo.
- Clearly set expectations for your team, software partners, and vendors for next steps.
What if my internet is often unstable?
You do need reliable internet to run a cloud-based application. If you have internet speed or stability issues, you’ll want to discuss them with your IT professional.
It’s best to have a backup plan available. Ask your IT partner what would happen in an outage. Do you have a redundant internet option that will automatically trigger should an outage occur? Are you able to connect via a cellular-enabled laptop or hotspot?
Of course, internet options are consistently changing, and broadband options are becoming more and more available to all areas. If you routinely struggle with speed or stability issues, keep an eye on options like Starlink, LTE cellular, and line of sight internet.
Considering switching to cloud-based software? Request a demo of Instinct EMR today and see how our expert team can support you.
- 7 steps for choosing the right software for your business. Netstar.co.uk. Published July 20, 2021.
- 7 steps to choosing software that is right for your business. MiddleStone.ltd. Published July 17, 2017.
- Who’s who in practice software: Today’s Veterinary Business PIMS Report. Published August/September 2021.