Cloud-Based Veterinary Software: 5 Questions for Your Practice
Running a veterinary practice isn't all tail wags and face licks. It's a business, and practice owners need to keep up with trends to grow and drive revenue, particularly when it comes to technology. One of the most important trends is the migration to cloud-based veterinary software, which is revolutionizing the industry in an increasingly virtual world.
Nevertheless, many veterinarians and practice managers considering the cloud are held back by important questions about security, reliability and costs. In this article, we'll share answers to the most common of these questions so you and your practice can confidently embrace the cloud.
1Will the data be secure?
The security of a veterinary practice's files is critical, and concern over security risks of the cloud is understandable. After all, cloud software is internet-based, allowing staff to connect and share client information quickly and easily. Doesn't that then make the information more vulnerable to cyberattacks or data breaches than data on your own computers and servers? Fortunately, most cloud software is secure and has safeguards to protect your data.
With cloud-based veterinary software, the software company is responsible for managing security, usually deployed through software updates. These constant, automatic updates provide up-to-date protection for users.
In addition, hosts are constantly improving their security features and offering services such as regular backups, encryption and identity verification. Also, most hosts are certified compliant with widely accepted security standards, including those around medical information, credit card data and financial reporting. In fact, cloud-based systems are most likely more secure than your own aging servers and outdated software.
2Is cloud-based software reliable?
Yes. With cloud-based software, your business data is stored in multiple remote data centers, making it easily recoverable in the event of an emergency scenario—from power outages to a natural disaster. If one server goes down, it doesn't take long to access your data and services through another. That's a huge advantage over keeping all your data and computing on-site.
Still not sure if your data will be safe in the event of a disaster? Check out your service-level agreement (SLA), the agreement that outlines the service you can expect from your cloud provider. Most providers have a section in the SLA that details their plan to prevent total loss of data, which includes disaster recovery and backup solutions.
3What happens if the internet goes down?
Because the cloud relies on the internet, it's logical to wonder what happens when connectivity is lost or disrupted. For many business functions, cloud-based software has an offline mode that allows staff to keep working and sync up once access is restored.
Most web-based applications can be connected via enabled mobile devices, such as an employee's smartphone. Although it's not a permanent fix, it can be a temporary solution when there's an internet disruption. It's also a good idea to have a business continuity plan in place to help keep your employees busy and your business running.
4Is cloud software expensive?
The cost of cloud services can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including the size of your practice, the number of users and the features you need. For example, do you need billing and invoicing, prescription processing, and imaging and X-rays? You might have to pay more for those features.
Nevertheless, one of the cloud's primary advantages is its cost savings. Unlike traditional hardware and physical servers—which require a substantial upfront investment, especially in hardware—most cloud software follows a subscription model that requires little to no installation. The cloud also saves you the cost of an in-house IT support team. With a cloud-based service provider, the software company is your IT support team.
5Ready to switch to the cloud?
Cloud-based veterinary software is a booming industry, with more than 90 practice management systems and apps on the market. That doesn't mean the cloud fits every kind of veterinary practice, but for most, it can offer greater security, accessibility, flexibility and convenience than your on-site server, all while saving money. If anything, your team members may simply appreciate having a bit more work taken off their already stressed shoulders. Take the time to consider these questions, and you may find that a switch to the cloud makes sense for you and your practice.
Financial insights for your business
This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.