Does cloud computing hold your silver lining?
Senior care administrators are no doubt concerned about the change and uncertainty facing the industry. Add in the daily pressures of operating your facility efficiently and cost effectively while delivering quality care to your residents, and you’ve got a lot of reasons that keep you up at night. But, every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case, the meaning is more literal than you think.
The use of technology promises great benefits in areas like automation, efficiencies and cost control. The use of cloud-based applications in particular delivers on these promises in very fast and meaningful ways. The use of cloud-based applications, commonly delivered as SaaS (software as a service) will eliminate complexities and effort in current processes, speed adoption and time-to-market. They also save money and free up time for what matters most—delivering great care.
The use of cloud-based applications is growing rapidly in long-term care. In fact, recent research shows that 30 percent of healthcare providers are adopting cloud solutions, and 78 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses are using or plan to use at least one paid cloud service in the next two to three years. There’s good reason for the growth, and understanding why can be a key to your success in 2013.
IT'S JUST THAT EASY
Cloud-based applications can be accessed from any Internet-enabled device, 24×7. This means your users can access apps from home, any desktop, and even their mobile phones. A simple login and password typically provide access to the system. To the user, the application is always available, on demand, when they need it. Cloud applications are known to deliver high availability and reliability, things that often are difficult to replicate with systems that are installed and supported in-house.
In addition, ease-of-use and accessibility are driving adoption of cloud applications. Complex technology implementations have been replaced with streamlined, web-based systems that are more user-friendly and accessible, and that can be up and running in just days (sometimes hours). Your time to market with cloud solutions is faster than you can ever imagine compared to traditional systems installed on-site. What’s more, the use of cloud applications is expected by today’s increasingly mobile workforce and the Millennial generation. This will remain important as the long-term care workforce changes—47 percent of assisted living staff and 48 percent of nursing home employees are under the age of 40.
One of the most touted benefits of cloud computing is lower costs—substantially lower upfront investment as well as total cost of ownership (TCO). There is no need to make expensive investments in hardware, servers or other supporting infrastructure and technologies that are required to run and maintain systems. Organizations commonly experience faster payback and five to 10 times lower costs than software installed on-site. And, by eliminating the need to acquire hardware and other systems, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.
Cost savings grow exponentially when considering the minimal IT resource requirements for cloud solutions. Many common IT labor costs can be cut in half or even eliminated. In an industry facing slimmer margins, and with cash-strapped LTC communities where IT personnel are the exception rather than the norm, these savings take on even more meaning.
STAYING ON TOP
One of the greatest, yet often overlooked, benefits is the ability to gain immediate access to new features with a simple browser refresh. You no longer have to wait for your IT resources to be available to upgrade your infrastructure and the application software. The web-based nature of cloud applications gives vendors the ability to release enhancements and new functionality more regularly and more seamlessly, typically multiple times a year. With ongoing reform and regulatory change in the industry, access to new features and updates can help keep your organization agile and enable you to quickly implement changes that immediately impact your business.
TAKE NEXT STEPS
Cloud solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Many of you may be adopting or considering electronic medical records, financial, scheduling and labor management SaaS. Do your homework. If you’re required to install Citrix components or other remote desktop management solutions, or if system upgrades need client/server intervention, then you’re not dealing with true cloud solutions. In addition, cloud applications are commonly priced on a monthly subscription basis and are flexible and easy to scale up, or down, as your business changes or new users come and go. During your evaluation of systems be sure to ask your vendor about reliability, service levels, support models and training. Cloud solutions can be the edge you need to deliver fast and significant value in 2013 and taking the next steps can be much easier than you might think.
Mark Woodka is CEO of OnShift, a provider of staff scheduling and shift management SaaS for long-term care and senior living. Mark can be reached at email@example.com.
Topics: Articles , Technology & IT