Is a cloud-based member portal right for you?

For nearly two decades, I have been singing the praises of cloud-based technology for member portals. Recently I came to an interesting conclusion: I don’t need to sing as loud as I used to, but I do need to change my tune.

Here’s what I mean: IT leaders no longer need to be convinced about cloud technology. They have implemented it in other areas of the company and seen the advantages play out. The sticking point is often convincing naysayers who worry about using a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution specifically for the member portal.

Dealing with the naysayers

What do I mean by naysayers? They are the people in your organization who say things like …

  • “No PaaS vendor could possibly unravel our mess of systems and processes.”
  • “With a PaaS solution, we will look the same as everyone else.”
  • “There’s no way a vendor could meet our security standards.”
  • “It will take too long to have it up and running.”
  • “We simply can’t give up that much control.”

To all of those statements, I offer the following response: You must be talking with the wrong PaaS solutions provider. This entire business model was built on one thing: having the industry expertise and technology skills needed to solve problems for customers, not create new ones.

The right questions to ask

I won’t claim that a cloud-based member portal is the right solution for everyone. But I do think you need to ask the right questions before you rule it out. Some of the questions to ask:

  • “How might we benefit from bringing in an experienced third party to help us move forward?”
  • “Do we have enough internal developers (given competing projects and priorities) to complete this project properly on our own?”
  • “Can (or, more likely, should) significant internal resources be allocated to the project?”
  • “Do our internal resources have the expertise to design, build, and maintain an interface that will keep up with consumers’ ever-increasing expectations over a five-year software lifecycle?”
  • “Do we have the availability of infrastructure (servers, routers, data centers, etc.)?”

If the answers to those questions are mostly yes, you’re rare – and very fortunate! Your organization is more willing than most to invest in staffing, training, and technology for a member portal.

If the answers are mostly no, you’re in good company – and you are in the best position to reap the benefits of working with a PaaS solutions provider. When you work with a vendor, you aren’t just purchasing their technology. You are purchasing their expertise in the healthcare space as well as their knowledge of the technology. They will offer ideas based on strategies that have proven effective in driving success for dozens or even hundreds of other payers. They will also be far more aware of the mistakes other payers have made, which helps you avoid problems rather than spending additional time fixing them.

For more tips on asking the right questions to determine whether a cloud-based solution could work for your member portal, download our white paper, Why Cloud-based Portal Software Makes Sense for Today’s Payers.


Win Norton is one of the founders of Healthx. He is a leading technical innovator of cloud-based solutions that improve operational efficiency and maximize IT resources for healthcare payers.