This is a guest post from C. Patrick Felicetta. Patrick is the Entegration, Inc. Chief Operating Officer (COO). He gives some good insight into some of the advantages of Microsoft’s cloud based Office 365 service.
For the past 13 years Entegration, Inc., a computer networking company, has specialized in meeting the IT needs of healthcare organizations. We have installed hundreds of servers and network devices to support our clients’ computing needs including electronic health records (EHRs), Practice Administration, Microsoft Exchange for email, and document storage. Installing and managing servers is a core part of the service we provide to our clients. So our recent move to Microsoft Office 365 represents quite a shift in direction.
Over the past 4 months we have migrated Entegration from onsite Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint servers to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 service. You may ask yourself, “If your company installs and supports servers, why would you migrate to a cloud solution?” The answer is simple: Microsoft has built a service that provides the functionality, stability, security and redundancy that would be cost prohibitive to build ourselves.
It is very expensive to build geographically distributed redundant datacenters. Having a datacenter with servers on the East Coast and another datacenter running servers on the West Coast and having the servers constantly synchronize information would be very costly for Entegration. The other issue is that while we are very busy focusing on providing our clients with advanced networking solutions, EHR implementations and high quality support, we don’t have time to invest in continuously upgrading our own infrastructure. Finally, as a HIPAA Business Associate to our clients we require a secure HIPAA compliant infrastructure and that needs dedicated resources to ensure compliance. The resources needed to build, maintain and monitor that infrastructure are all resources that would not be working on supporting our clients.
Microsoft Office 365 provides a solution for all of these issues. Microsoft has built a cloud based platform that provides the geographically distributed and redundant network that we require. They manage the servers and provide the back-end infrastructure maintenance and product upgrades. And, perhaps most importantly they have built a scalable HIPAA compliant platform and are willing to sign a Business Associate agreement to ensure that our information is protected and secure.
The economics of Microsoft Office 365 are hard to argue with. With Exchange Online email starting at $4/month per user, it is affordable to all organizations. Office 365 small and midsize business packages range from $5/month to $15/month per user and include all the services to provide a feature rich communication and collaboration environment. The small business package is targeted for organizations with 25 or less employees and the midsize package is for organizations with 300 or less employees. Even at $20/month per user, the price of the Office 365 Enterprise platform service is affordable when you consider that you get Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync and never have to worry about purchasing product upgrades or replacing server infrastructure.
Our experience with Microsoft Office 365 has been so positive, we have now begun migrating our clients from on-site servers to Microsoft Office 365. Feedback from our clients regarding the service has been overwhelmingly positive. Moving some of their core messaging and communication services to Microsoft’s Office 365 provides us the opportunity to focus on our clients’ critical EHR, imaging, and patient care systems. We have even calculated considerable year-over-year cost savings for our clients by using Microsoft Office 365 versus onsite servers and Microsoft software licensing.
It is not often that organizations have the opportunity to move to a feature rich, redundant, scalable and HIPAA compliant platform and save money in the process. Microsoft has made their Office 365 cloud service very attractive and we are excited to not only continue utilizing the service ourselves, but also to move our clients to it whenever it can provide the same benefits to them.
We have put together resources that explain the benefits of Microsoft Office 365. Find out more about Microsoft Office 365 for Healthcare.