Cloud-Based EHR Vs In-House EHR: An In-depth Analysis?

August 24, 2022

Healthcare providers with limited technical knowledge under their sleeves face the dilemma; 'which is the best electronic health records (EHR) system - cloud-based or in-house?' or 'which EHR system will be better for my practice?'. This guide discusses the significant differences, pros, and cons of the two EHR software to help you make the right decision.

What Is the Difference Between On-Premise EHR and Cloud-Based EHR System?

There are two types of electronic health records solutions, in-house, and cloud-based. The key difference between the two is the location of data storage.  

Cloud-based EHR systems store the data on external servers enabling providers to access it quickly using the web. All you need is a good internet connection and a computer to access it.

Conversely, the client-system EHR systems store the data in-house. Facilities and practices must have a server, hardware, and software for storage purposes.  

The in-house EHR system is a traditional approach to storing data, and practitioners are switching toward the cloud. Both types of software have pros and cons, but cost-effectiveness, security, and data sharing are the top benefits compelling providers to transition to the cloud system.

In-House EHR Cost Parameters

If you plan to host a client-server EHR system, your major expenses will revolve around the following activities.

  • Selecting and purchasing software
  • Subscribing to a high-speed internet connection
  • Buying and installing on-premise servers
  • Hiring a full-time IT professional for maintenance of servers, back-ups and security patches
  • Hiring a compliance officer
  • Train onboarding staff and physicians

Moreover, you will be required to purchase additional software to ensure integration with revenue cycle management (RCM), practice management software, patient portal, mobile health apps, telehealth etc. There will also be ongoing expenses such as licensing fees, software updates, and security patches. To scale your practice, you will need to buy more servers and have a secure place to keep them.

Cost Benefits of Cloud-Based EHR Software

Since cloud-based EHR does not require any installation, hardware setup or purchase of software licenses, compared to in-house EHR, its implementation comes in at a fraction of the cost. Providers pay a monthly subscription fee for an arrangement - SaaS (software as a service).

  • Enhanced Privacy, Security and Compliance by Cloud EHRs

Choosing a cloud-based system helps you stay at ease knowing that all the patient data is stored on secure HIPAA-compliant servers.  

On the flip side, if you use a client-based server, the responsibility falls completely on you to keep the data secure. The enhanced security offered by cloud systems fosters trust in patients. Thus, healthcare experts consider cloud-based electronic health records software more secure than an in-house system.

  • Cloud System Prioritizes Interoperability

Interoperability is a key feature in electronic health records systems benefiting clinicians and other authorized individuals in accessing and sharing patient data easily. Cloud computing has helped EHRs become more interoperable, increasing physician satisfaction with the software. While usability and data accessibility are major concerns in in-house EHRs, causing providers burnout.

How To Decide Between Cloud-Based EHR and In-House?

Medium to small-sized healthcare facilities and practices prefer a cost-effective EHR solution without breaking the bank in setting up an on-premise IT department for data security and server maintenance.  

On the contrary, large organizations want complete control over their IT infrastructure, data storage, and security. Therefore, they choose an in-house EHR system. But you need to understand that even health IT firms are investing in cloud computing and consider it an improved security option than in-house EHRs.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the size of the practice, it is recommended that you consider the future implications and scope of in-house EHR and cloud-based EHRs. Staying up-to-date with the latest technological trends is the way toward the digital transformation of the health sector.