For Physicians

Electronic Medical Records look like the wave of the future in the medical field. For physicians running a medical practice, EMR promises to improve the quality of patient care and the efficiency of the office by providing easy access to critical records as needed.

 

But then comes the question of exactly how you start using EMR within your own practice, and there are a couple of general approaches:

  1. Ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away — not a bad approach if you're really close to retirement!
  2. Install PCs and other equipment within your practice and purchase EMR software from a vendor (for heaven's sake, don't even think about trying to build the software yourself),
  3. Subscribe to a hosted EMR service from an outside vendor

Notice that both (2) and (3) will require a number of access stations to reside without your offices so that your medical and administrative staff can access patient information as required.  You will probably discover that you need more of these than you originally thought or several people wind up queuing up for the available stations.

In-Office Approach

Option (2) — an in-office system — will require a fairly hefty installation within your office, including several PCs for access to the records by the staff and possibly one or more servers which will act as the repository of the patient information and distribute it to the access stations upon request.

You may not realize it at the time, but your practice has just taken on a major IT (Information Technology) task.  You are now resposible for maintenance of these PCs and servers, and the administration of the whole thing — applying updates for the applications and the operating system itself, installing virus protection software, taking regular backups of all critical data, storing backups in an offsite location (so if the office burns down some night, you can still retrieve your patient information), and a host of other things.  All of these things can be handled by an outside support service, but now you are the manager of that service.

.... and you already thought that you didn't have enough time to see patients.

Even more critical, you are now also responsible for the security of your patient information within the regulations of HIPAA and other government requirements.  This is not a task for the faint of heart.  You will need to become conversant about security protocols, data encryption, and all of the minute details of the regulations.  Even worse, every one of those PCs used for access will need to be secured so that no one can infect a station with a computer virus (such as a key logger or trojan horse) and gain unauthorized access to your EMR information.

Hosted EMR Services

Option (3) — a hosted EMR service — uses an outside vendor to handle many of these responsibilities within a single package.  The access stations within your office are used (usually through a Web browser) so that your staff can connect to the EMR service.  At least your EMR vendor is now responsible for security of the patient information within their environment, periodic backups, and several other administrative chores.

But note that every station in your office must also be secured in order to preserve overall EMR security.  If your in-office access stations are PCs, then you have the same administration problems of installing local updates and ensuring than none of these stations becomes infected and compromises the overall security.

 

In either case, Nimbus can provide a low-cost, secure solution for providing multiple access points to the EMR system within the office.  See Benefits for EMR for a more complete description.