Taking hybrid steps to the Cloud

Feb. 22, 2021 / By Steve Austin

In talking to many customers lately, I’ve been inspired by a palpable shift in attitudes towards “the Cloud,” with growing acceptance and demand for cloud-based solutions. Perhaps this shift is because so many of us manage our personal lives with cloud-based online tools—and we’ve come to expect the same convenience and performance in our work lives. Rightly so! This is a welcome change in expectations because the advanced functionality and improved experience customers want and need will be delivered through cloud-native solutions. This is true in just about every industry and especially true in the health care revenue cycle.

Yet, the shift to the Cloud isn’t happening overnight. Some traditional “on-premises” solutions represent years and years of development and deep understanding of health care and revenue cycle operations. Many of these systems are built with technology that doesn’t easily translate to the Cloud, especially at scale. To get to the Cloud, applications need to be re-engineered and, in many cases, re-imagined and re-designed. Refactoring solutions is always an important endeavor that takes time, but vendors also want to deliver value sooner to improve the customer experience, create new capabilities and help their customers succeed.

Hence, the adoption of “hybrid” solutions.

In this context, a hybrid solution has some functionality in the Cloud and some functionality on-premises. Ideally, these functionalities integrate seamlessly. For example, a technology with computer-assisted coding functionality can generate the AI content in the Cloud while users interact with the main application on premises.

Vendors are likely to adopt a hybrid approach as part of a transition strategy to help customers move to the next generation of products and services. This is a good thing as the customer can reap the benefits of new technology much sooner without significant disruptions to operations or the need to launch a major implementation effort or project.

If you’re considering a hybrid solution, consider these markers of a solid hybrid strategy:

  • The vendor offers a low-risk adoption strategy. You should be able to opt in and use the new tool at any level that makes sense and only when you’re ready. You should be able to fall back to the on-premises features if necessary.
  • The vendor has a clear, and detailed plan for data security and privacy in the Cloud.
  • Simplified implementation that reuses as much of the existing architecture as possible. For example, can the current interface be used with minimal changes?
  • Cloud features shouldn’t be tied to a specific on premises release.
  • Look for a performance boost to the on premises system since more processing will be offloaded to the Cloud.
  • Performance at scale, meaning that all customers, regardless of size, can take advantage of the new hybrid features.
  • Last and most important, the hybrid solution should offer better functionality to improve the user experience. There should be an obvious and immediate return on investment.

If the above factors are in place, your vendor is probably offering a solid next step to the future that you should consider.

Steve Austin is innovation manager for the 3M 360 Encompass System.

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