Cloud Computing

RMT Tech Talk: Winter 2012
Jessica Foster
January 04, 2012
By
You have, no doubt, heard the latest technology buzzword “cloud computing” before and may be wondering why it is the subject of so much discussion.

“Cloud computing” provides many new and unique benefits to consumers, small businesses and large corporations. The service can also be beneficial to any massage therapy clinic no matter what its size – solo practices and multidiscipline clinics alike can all benefit from cloud computing.

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?
Essentially, cloud computing refers to hosted services accessible over the Internet that allow consumers to use the “hosted” applications without installing specialized software on their local computer. If you need to install specialized hardware or software to use an application, it isn’t considered “cloud computing.”

In the past, companies needed to install and maintain expensive hardware and software to provide computing services. Small and mid-sized businesses were at a severe disadvantage when competing with larger companies who employed teams of IT professionals and had huge financial resources.

The growth of the Internet and hosted application service providers have evened the playing field through “cloud computing,” making many specialized applications affordable to all. Interestingly enough, many large companies have also shifted many of their IT services to cloud computing because it is beneficial to them as well.

EXAMPLES OF CLOUD COMPUTING
The most common examples of cloud computing are e-mail services such as Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail. All you need to access your e-mail using these services is a computer or mobile device that is connected to the Internet. The e-mail service provider looks after the hardware and software management, data storage, system bandwidth and daily backup as part of the service you subscribe to. You simply use the service from any computer anywhere, anytime – worry-free.

Microsoft, which historically is a vender of software that is installed on your local computer, now offers “cloud computing” services. The company is offering its popular business applications, such as Word and Excel, as hosted services from the cloud. In this case, you do not need to purchase, install and maintain a copy of the software; you simply “subscribe” to the service and access the software from the cloud. Microsoft looks after keeping the application running and installs the latest software versions for you.

CLOUD COMPUTING SERVICES FOR MASSAGE THERAPISTS
Massage therapists can benefit from most general-purpose services offered in the cloud – e-mail services, word-processing applications, accounting systems, and similar applications. There are also specialized practice-management solutions available to massage therapists via cloud computing. These service offerings include:
  • Client Appointment Management applications, including online booking – services that allow your clients to request appointments, receive electronic confirmation and allow therapists to view and manage their booking calendars online.  
  • Invoicing and Financial Record Keeping – applications that generate treatment invoices, track client payments and generate revenue reports.
  • Client Information Management – the management and secure storage of client-related data such as contact information, appointment history, client charting (SOAP notes), and other data to help manage your practice details.
  • Gift Certificate Sales – solutions that manage the sale, delivery and redemption of massage therapy gift certificates online.
  • Class Registration – services that allow therapists to promote their class offerings; receive online registrations and even manage their attendance lists.
  • Website Management – services that provide real-time online content management for your massage therapy website.
  • Some service providers offer all of these practice management applications in one integrated service for massage therapists.
In closing, cloud computing offers many benefits that massage therapists can profit from – not the least of which is that it allows you to use technology in your practice without being burdened with the details of how the technology works. This allows you to concentrate on what you do best . . .  treat your clients.

Until next time, be well.


MindZplay Solutions is a provider of massage therapy websites and online practice management solutions. To learn more about mindZplay, visit us at www.massagemanedger.com or call toll free 888-373-6996.

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