Mental Health News Radio

Behavioral Health EHRs: What is the Cloud?

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We are asked on a daily basis which EHR a behavioral health provider should choose to run their organizations. Buzz words are thrown around like “cloud-based” and “web-access”.  While it is true that the technology world is going the way of all things in the cloud, what exactly is the cloud?  

When a software company tells you they are “in the cloud” what does that mean exactly? How do you know your data isn’t sitting on one or two dusty servers somewhere with your patient data being backed up to a less than secure source in someone’s office? Who has access to this patient data? How often are passwords changed and updated on these servers? Are these servers all in the same location or spread around the country?


With a stable and financially secure behavioral health EHR vendor it means your data is:

  • Hosted on multiple servers in multiple states
  • Backed up to secure sources
  • Set up so that if your EHR goes down you are back up and running immediately with minimal to zero data loss (meaning your data lives and breathes on more than one server)

Is it expensive for an EHR company to have this kind of infrastructure?


This is why it is important for providers of mental healthcare services to choose Behavioral Health EHR vendors that are large enough and have the financial stability to safeguard your patient data.  

The cloud means their cloud, but where is their cloud?  

It is also important to realize what being in the cloud means. It means no software installed on local machines. Put more aptly by PC Magazine “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulonimbus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”  Read the full article here.  

Does this mean installed software is bad?  


It does limit a practice, however, to only being able to use the software on machines where it can be installed. It also means you are limited to the type of computer (Windows, MAC) that can run the software effectively.  Does effective mean you have to buy additional software in order to use it on a MAC? Today we have Smartphones, iPads, Windows Tablets, MACs, and PCs.  Easy access to be able to do your work as a behavioral provider is imperative.  You shouldn’t have to pay extra for this kind of access. There are behavioral health EHRs on the market that include all of this with their product.

Mental health organizations need to make sure the EHR vendors they are considering do not state they are “in the cloud” when in fact; they are really web-based. We’ll go into more detail in another article around the case for Windows/Web based behavioral health EHRs.

We spend a lot of time debunking marketing agendas so providers get the facts about EHR technology. Some vendors that offer browser based EHRs will say they are better than EHRs that have to be installed and vice versa. We like to look for Behavioral Health EHR vendors that stick to the facts and stay away from marketing tricks. This is a competitive market and this is a good thing.  The more technology providers have available to them, the better patient care they can provide. EHRs are a tool to help mental health providers focus on their clients mental wellness.  This is why we support Behavioral Health EHR vendors that meet certain criteria.  Send us a quick email if you’d like to know more.

Watch out for EHR vendors that tell you being “in the cloud” is not as secure as their installed, web-based product. It can be just as “unsafe” to use installed software on local machines. We want the behavioral health community to know the technology that is available to them and be able to focus on patient care rather than EHR headaches.  

As always, we are here to help. If you would like an advocate during your EHR search or simply want to ask some questions, feel free to reach out!

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