Demystifying the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare
Amidst concerns about HIPAA compliance, setup costs and the time and effort required to convert old records, it’s taken the healthcare industry a long time to go digital. Today, though, more medical organizations than ever have become more productive and efficient by moving their operations online. Why has moving online become easier than ever for the healthcare industry? It’s all because of the cloud.
Microsoft is one of the world’s top providers of cloud services — and they have a number of solutions tailored specifically for the healthcare industry. We’ll discuss those solutions in greater detail later. For now, though, let’s start at the beginning by explaining what the cloud actually is.
What Is the Cloud?[IT pros can skip this section.] To understand the cloud, consider the structure of the Internet. Much of the data on the Internet resides within massive data centers consisting of hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of very powerful server computers. Those servers spend all day accessing data on their hard drives and sending it to users who request information via their web browsers.
Now, what if you could put servers just like those to work on other tasks? That, in a nutshell, is the cloud. Companies such as Microsoft have built data centers around the world and filled them with servers ready to handle difficult computing tasks for companies like yours.
The best part is that the cloud works on an economy of scale. Individually, few companies have the resources to build data centers and fill them with computers. When you utilize the resources of the cloud, though, you only need a tiny portion of the data center’s collective power to complete a task that would be difficult for a single server. So, cloud providers can lease server resources to many customers simultaneously. You’ll complete tasks more quickly than you do now — and you’ll pay less.
Microsoft Cloud Services for Healthcare
Now that you have a better understanding of what the cloud is, you’re probably curious about what utilizing the cloud can do for your healthcare operation. The Microsoft cloud has a number of solutions with specific benefits for healthcare. Let’s discuss those solutions in further detail.
How much more efficient would your office be if patients didn’t have to come in for short appointments? Utilizing the cloud makes it possible to conduct virtual consultations instead of making patients sit in waiting rooms. Video conferencing has been available for many years, but the tools haven’t always made it easy. The doctor and patient would have to install specific applications on their computers, have access to high-speed connections, exchange usernames and hope that the video conferencing server didn’t crash during the consultation.
For video conferencing, Microsoft offers the tool Skype for Business. It requires no software installation. Instead, the doctor and patient can connect to one another through their browsers. Asking another doctor to log in and join the conference can be a snap, too.
Is your patient database a constant struggle for your doctors and administrators? If you have a single server working to process database searches and update patient records, members of your staff probably spend a great deal of time waiting when accessing the database. What if you could move the database online and harness the collective power of many servers instead?
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the Microsoft solution for moving a large patient database to the cloud. Like Skype for business, it works on any device with a web browser — and since many servers process searches and modifications simultaneously, there’s virtually no waiting. Your staff will make better healthcare decisions and provide better care because they’ll have more data at their fingertips.
Does your organization use Microsoft Office? Office becomes more collaborative in the cloud. You may already use the collaborative features in the offline version of Office. When you collaborate on documents using the offline version of Office, though, you have to either use your internal email system to send documents back and forth or save documents in a shared directory on your office’s server. Either way, people may end up losing track of documents or have difficulty editing them because other users have them locked.
Microsoft Office 365 makes it possible to collaborate on documents more easily. Do you need several doctors to work together to create a report about a patient’s health history and treatment plan? With Microsoft Office 365, several people can work on the same document simultaneously — from any location and on any device with a browser. People can also download documents and work on them using their local computers. With automatic synchronization, Office 365 will store the most recent version of the document in the cloud.
Are you unsure if your organization is ready to move to the cloud? At Earth & Sky, we will work with you and help you make informed decisions that will yield the best ROI. We regularly find that our clients are overpaying by an average of more than 30%. Call us today at 858-799-0245 or request a free assessment. We have the expertise to guide you in a direction that saves you money and makes your operations more efficient.