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Health IT Basics

The Basics

Software as a Service (SaaS) technology deployment, also known as cloud-based deployment, web-based deployment, or Application Service Provider deployment, “allows software to be run and data to be stored [off-site].”1 Data is stored in servers at an off-site vendor location, and SaaS users access the technology through the Internet.2 SaaS deployment can be leveraged for several health IT functions, including electronic health records (EHRs), medical practice management systems, and health information exchange (HIE).

The Benefits of Software as a Service Deployment

  • Lower & More Predictable Costs: SaaS technology solutions are often lower cost solutions, as they enable health care organizations to avoid the costs of purchasing expensive hardware (e.g., servers) and/or software.3 The costs of SaaS deployment are also more predictable than on-site technology. SaaS deployment typically requires providers to pay a fixed monthly subscription cost. On-site deployment typically requires providers to pay for ongoing costs to support and manage on-site data servers.
  • Simpler Security: SaaS technology deployment “reduces individual maintenance responsibilities and allows even small organizations to benefit, [as] responsibility for maintaining security is shifted from the small health care organization to the Cloud¬based service provider.”4
  • Easier Upgrades & Updates: SaaS technology solutions also allow EHR vendors to make upgrades and fixes to the software without end-user involvement. Upgrades and updates to SaaS technology are often less expensive and easier.
  • Improved Accessibility: SaaS deployment allows providers and staff members to access technology from remote locations.
  • Better Data Exchange: SaaS technology solutions also enable better data exchange, as “data from many organizations are stored and processed in a more uniform way.”5 You can use the technology to share information with other providers, health care organizations, and patients.

Your Local Regional Extension Center Can Help You Decide

SaaS is not for everyone. Your local Regional Extension Center (REC) can help you decide whether SaaS deployment makes sense for your practice/hospital/health center. RECs are located in every region of the country to help health care providers select, implement, and become adept and meaningful users of EHRs. Contact your local REC to find out if you are eligible for free or reduced-price local support.

References

  1. Executive Office of the President – President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “Report to the President Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward [PDF - 1.63 MB]
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Physician Adoption of Electronic Health Record Systems: United States, 2011.”
  3. Health Resources and Services Administration. “Improving Reimbursement Through Effective Use of a Cloud Based Practice Management System.”
  4. Executive Office of the President – President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “Report to the President Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward [PDF - 1.63 MB].”
  5. Executive Office of the President – President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “Report to the President Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward [PDF - 1.63 MB].”