When it comes to cloud, there are many options for the veterinary practice to consider. And, in the eyes of a practice owner or manager, this is a confusing topic.
Veterinary practice owners and managers are focused on taking care of their clients and patients, but their time at the practice can often be consumed by tasks that distract them from their primary focus. One of the tasks that often sucks time away from owners and managers is troubleshooting technical issues. That's because, in many cases, the technology that runs the practice is built on top of a foundation that is crumbling under them.
Like a foundation to a house, a veterinary practice needs a solid, secure, and stable technical foundation. If you try to build a house on a cracking or crumbling foundation, you'll have many issues down the road. If you try to build your veterinary practice on a weak technical foundation, you'll put one of your most valuable assets—your data—at risk.
The traditional IT problem
A traditional veterinary practice may have a server and workstations. This is often set up as a one-time buildout every 3–5 years. This one-time capital outlay approach just doesn't work anymore, because hospitals are becoming more and more dependent on technology, and that technology has to be maintained—it has to work—or you can't do your job.
The cloud-based IT solution
Adoption of cloud-based technology is growing in the veterinary industry, especially over the past year. From cloud-based practice management systems that don't require an onsite server to other cloud-based technology, like mobile apps and online pharmacies and prescription refill options, the opportunities with cloud-based technology are endless.
What is cloud-based technology?
Let me begin by explaining what cloud is NOT.
Cloud is NOT a physical server running in an overheated closet at your practice that also stores your cleaning products. Your server stores all of your patients' medications and appointments and information. It needs to be in a much more secure location than the broom closet, bathroom, basement, etc.
Cloud is NOT an outdated, 15-year-old technology solution that consistently requires monitoring and maintenance. (And, in 90 percent of the network assessments we complete, we're finding that the monitoring and maintenance of these outdated systems is not occurring as it should.)
Cloud is NOT something you need to budget for every 3–5 years. With cloud-based technology, you can say goodbye to the roller coaster rides of large IT costs. You pay for a cloud-based system monthly, so it becomes an operational expense, rather than a capital expense. That monthly operational expense takes the headaches of maintenance, upkeep, and security away from you and puts them on the cloud provider.
Cloud is NOT technology that exposes your client information to the public internet. A good, cloud-based system means your data resides in a secure location. We call this a "private cloud." All of your valuable practice and client information is stored privately behind a secure login.
5 benefits of going cloud-based
#1: You can access your practice information anywhere.
Because your system is cloud-based, it stores your information online. All you need is a simple internet connection to gain access. Unlike traditional, outdated IT systems that are complex and seem to break more often than not when you need access, cloud-based systems will allow access anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
#2: You'll save time.
Veterinarians need to be veterinarians, not computer techs. Fixing computers and servers and performing software updates should no longer be part of the job responsibilities of veterinary practice owners. By going cloud-based, you'll eliminate the time waste (and frustration) of taking backups offsite and dealing with outdated technology.
#3: You'll have steady, predictable IT costs.
As I explained previously, going cloud-based means you'll have a regular, affordable monthly cost. You'll avoid the roller coaster rides of IT costs, where one month or year can be extremely high and other months or years extremely low. Large capital outlay for servers go away, which helps you budget more effectively.
#4: Your information will be more secure.
A good cloud-based system is more secure than having that server in the closet. Practice owners often incorrectly assume that the cloud isn't safe. It's the same thinking behind Grandpa stuffing his life savings into a mattress rather than keeping it at a bank. You know that thinking is outdated and that method is less safe, effective, and efficient. Storing your practice and client data—your "life savings"—in the cloud is much more secure than hosting it on your own system at your office. The transfer of data to and from the system is encrypted, and you can sleep better at night knowing that your information is protected.
#5: You'll grow your practice with ease.
When it's time to grow your business, it can be done with small, incremental costs. The cloud grows and scales with you as you need it. You don't have to over-invest and hope you grow into the solution. Instead, you can buy what you need now, and purchase more as your revenue increases.
These days, you probably send an email instead of a fax. You probably have a smartphone. You probably review X-rays and laboratory results digitally. You probably don't have your life savings stuffed into your mattress. When you are faced with having to replace that old server in the closet, you should probably go cloud-based.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Axne is the owner of IT-Guru, a company focused on veterinary IT support and helps veterinary hospitals go to the cloud. Cloud veterinary practice management applications and Office 365 for veterinary hospitals are two areas where Joseph and his team have IT standards of care built to assure secure and smooth transitions to cloud-based technology. Contact Joseph at email@example.com or 303-520-3733.