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Community Clinics: Are Application Service Providers Right for Your Clinic?

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Abstract:

Until recently, choosing a software application that fit a community clinic's particular business needs was a fairly simple, straightforward process. It consisted of detailing immediate and foreseeable future application requirements and then evaluating select vendors whose products appeared to have the functionality that met those needs. If the vendor and its product were acceptable, the clinic checked out the company's financials to ensure the vendor would be around to support the product and add functionality as needs and regulations demanded. Next, the vendor's customer references were checked and a decision was made. The vendor community was fairly well defined and a known quantity. The emergence of the Internet and its enabling technologies has added more options to the selection process. Suddenly there is an alternative application delivery method that has some appealing characteristics that community clinics may want to evaluate. This new breed of health care vendor is the application service provider (ASP). This report is a guide for community clinics to evaluate ASP vendors compared to traditional vendor product offerings. To improve clarity, the physician practice management system is utilized in the baseline examples, but ambulatory medical records, managed care, and connectivity ASP vendors are also reviewed.