What’s more important, your computer’s hardware or its software? You tell me: What’s more important, your heart or your lungs? Obviously, if you’re going to function, you need both. The same is true for electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) software: Your hardware is mission-critical to the success of your electronic records, and this is not the place to compromise.
Explore this issue:December 2011
On-Site or Remote?
No matter how small your office, you will require more than one computer. These computers have to “talk” to one another through another computer, a server. A server is a physical hardware system (a computer) that “serves” the needs of and “has conversations” with other computers. It usually has a faster CPU, more memory and a large hard drive on which to store your data, and it can also store your EHR software. Servers may be housed locally or remotely. If you have more than one office site, some computers will, by necessity, be remote. These computers will likely be connected to your server through the Internet. There are literally hundreds of thousands of routers, modems and domain-name servers out there that provide access to the Web.
Like any good marriage, servers require maintenance, and someone is going to have to assume that responsibility. Some physicians have developed the skills to maintain hardware and can keep up with HIPAA regulations, but most of us don’t have a clue what to do—nor should we. Therefore, by necessity, you will likely need to delegate this responsibility to another business or to an employee if you are large enough to have your own IT staff. This is where decisions regarding your server maintenance and location become really important.
Like any good marriage, servers require maintenance, and someone is going to have to assume that responsibility.
Finding a Host
You may choose to house your server locally, feeling that your data and system are more secure. Just be aware that you will now be reliant on technicians to come to you for maintenance, emergency failures, upkeep of your backup systems and disaster recovery. The key to this decision is finding a business, not a single person, who can reliably provide these services. Individuals get sick, go on vacation and are certainly not available “24/7”—and please don’t delegate this responsibility to your local high school or college “techy.” Response times are crucial to your practice, and a 24-hour response time is not satisfactory with your EHR. You are now dependent on your EHR for providing patient care, so it is mission critical for your organization.