Core IT infrastructure recommendations...

IT infrastructure refers to the physical assets - Computers, Printers, Networking Gear, Operating System, Application software, and documentation. It should also include, by definition, the resources available to install, configure, repair, replace, and maintain these systems.

The implementation of Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Practice Management (PM) technology will require an IT framework capable of supporting the core EHR/PM software functionality. In addition, it must also support all of the non-EHR components required for the business to function properly. Existing practices may already have some level of IT infrastructure in place. It is possible that some of the existing infrastructure can be retained or upgraded when installing the new EHR/PM technology. The EHR vendor, in consultation with a qualified IT engineer, can make that determination after carefully evaluating the practice's needs.

So what, exactly, does your practice require? Every medical practice is different in terms of their IT requirements... yet they all have similar basic needs. The discussion below will address the key components that must be considered in order to support an EHR-centric "Digital Practice".

Key components needed for your EHR / IT infrastructure:

Internet Service:

An Internet connection to the outside world is an absolute must have item. Your medical practice will depend heavily on the availability of a fast reliable Internet connection. This is especially true if your practice elects to use an ASP EHR model. In that case, your EHR vendor will have a minimum bi-directional throughput requirement... typically about 1.5 Mbps (Mega bits per second - roughly one million bits per second)... that the Internet connection must meet in order to function correctly. Depending on the services that your practice offers, you may have a requirement to send and receive large amounts of data such as Image and Video files which consume a great deal of network bandwidth. In addition, your EHR system will regularly connect with outside labs, pharmacies, hospitals, other providers, patients, and Health Information Exchanges (HIE) using messaging protocols such as HL7.

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