Physician Practices: Are Application Service Providers Right for You?

Jason Fortin and Keith MacDonald, First Consulting Group

Examining IT solutions for physician practices, this report focuses on the option of application service provider (ASP) software. It includes software comparisons, key considerations, and a guide to suitability.

October 2006

While the benefits of advanced clinical software such as electronic health records (EHRs) are well-documented, the up-front costs and resources needed to implement and support these systems can be prohibitive for some physician practices. A possible alternative is the application service provider (ASP) model, which allows physicians to essentially "rent" remotely managed products and services that can be accessed via the Internet.

This 2006 report provides an overview of the ASP alternative, comparing it to traditional software and addressing important considerations and questions for physicians weighing their options. It also considers the future of ASPs and reviews scenarios from six different types of medical practices as a guide for making appropriate information technology (IT) decisions.

The authors concluded that with the emergence of reliable broadband technology, the ASP model was an increasingly viable choice for many small- to medium-size practices. Particularly for those with limited capital and IT resources, they concluded that it may offer the only practical strategy for migrating to EHRs.

However, the report notes that medical practices must be cautious when charting a software strategy. Among key considerations are IT goals, available expertise, financial resources, and willingness to outsource data management.

The authors stated that options would likely increase as the ASP market matured. They claimed that more EHRs would soon be available on an ASP basis, and more organizations would begin serving as ASPs.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.