Remote hosting isn't always as simple as it seems

While Washington Monthly is framing the EMR market as a tussle between big, bad vendors of proprietary systems and the warm-and-fuzzy open-source movement, Health Data Management is taking a far less confrontational approach--and even offering some useful tips--by looking at the pros and cons of remotely hosted solutions as an alternative to locally installed systems.

Whether it's called an application service provider, software-as-a-service, software-enabled service or cloud computing, a remotely hosted option certainly can help physician practices lower the up-front expense of installing an EMR and mitigate ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs. Remote hosting puts the onus for backups, tech support and disaster recovery on the vendor or large health system, a big plus for smaller practices that don't have dedicated IT staff.

But there are negatives of handing off these responsibilities. Without adequate bandwidth--still a serious problem in rural areas--systems might not respond quickly enough for users. If the Internet goes down, so does the EMR. Also, the story suggests that data ownership sometimes is murkier with contracts for remote hosting than for traditional client-server installations.

To read more about the issues related to remotely hosted EMRs:
- have a look at this Health Data Management story