You have probably heard terms like “web-based”, “hosted” and “cloud” thrown around while talking about Practice Management Software. In fact, we like to throw those words around on the Cliniko website. I want to discuss what each of these terms really mean, as they are all a little different from each other. I also want to talk about why they are so important to you as a practice manager, and they really are.
Web-based software is software that you use straight from your web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc.) over the internet. If you have used online banking, gmail, hotmail or facebook, then you have used web-based software.
With web-based software, you have nothing to install. You just visit the web address and get started. You also don’t need to worry about compatibility, web-based software will work with Mac or PC.
Another advantage of web-based software that surprises many is that it can be very fast. With web-based software, all the heavy lifting is done on the server, which is usually far more powerful than your normal computers. This allows for a very fast experience. It also means that if you have older computers, it won’t have much impact on the speed of the software, as they have a lot less to do.
Hosted software is software that the supplier (eg. Cliniko) makes available to you over the internet. Most web-based software is delivered like this. The alternative is if you are required to install the web-based software on your own network, and look after the hosting yourself.
The reason hosted software is so good is that you don’t need to be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the software. With hosted software, you don’t need to have a server or a network, just have your computer(s) connected to the internet.
Making sure software is always available is a difficult task, if it is not your core business, why would you want to take care of it? With hosted software, typically backups and data security are taken care of for you. With Cliniko, backups are done hourly, and your information is stored in a ISO27001 certified data center. All of your data is also encrypted with SSL. I will talk more about security and privacy in another post, but the point is that a software company that is hosting a solution for many customers can afford to put into place security and monitoring that is required for great software.
One last reason that hosted is so good is that the software is available everywhere. If you have the software installed on your own network, it is up to you to expose it to the world if required, and this can be difficult. With a hosted solution you can access it from your practice, your home, or your mobile phone if the software allows it.
Cloud computing is a different architectural way of hosting software. It basically means that rather than hosting your software on a single server like was done traditionally, you host the software in a “server farm”. These “server farms” are typically large factories full of rows and rows of servers all working together. A big advantage of this is redundancy, if you were hosting software on a single server and that server has a fault, your software is in trouble. If you are using cloud computing and a server has a fault, there are many other servers to jump in and take over instantly.
The other big advantage is scalability, generally the software company will buy/reserve an amount of computing power from the “server farm”, if for some reason the software has higher than usual use, the software company can easily request more power, and usually have this enabled within seconds. This is very different to traditional hosting where you would need to buy and replace your server, causing significant delays and downtime.
So cloud computing is a bit technical, why should you care about that stuff? Mostly because cloud computing is a fairly new and innovative technology that allows for amazing reliability in web applications. If your software is hosted in the cloud, you can be confident that it will have better uptime, and also handle spikes in traffic and use a lot easier.
So should you be looking for a web-based hosted Practice Management Software solution in the cloud?
Absolutely! At Cliniko we strongly believe this, and that is why Cliniko is exactly that. The irony of this post is that whilst it has been a bit technical, a web-based hosted in the cloud software solution really means that you don’t have to care about the technical stuff, it all just works.
If you want a system that requires no installation, is secure, has backups taken care of, works on Mac or PC, can be accessed from anywhere, has great reliability and redundancy, and is fast. Then you should care about these things.
A final thought… a lot has happened in computing and software in the last 10 years, why not take advantage of it?
Cliniko is amazing practice management software for healthcare businesses. Visit https://www.cliniko.com to see for yourself.