Medical clinics and doctor offices usually have a simplified IT infrastructure model as compared to businesses. The needs of a medical clinic and office revolve around the issues of redundancy, in terms of backup, and the health of the hardware and software of the computers. In addition to this, many clinics and offices use specialized patient database software to maintain their schedules and inventory. These specialized software may be purchased from independent developers from which IT support is also required from. IT consulting companies, such as Soulistech, have a role to play here as a managed service provider (MSP) and as an administrator in taking care of the PCs and the network, something that the developer cannot offer. Some clinics and offices are upgrading their infrastructure to EMR/EHR, and as such the demand for upkeep of all of the services mentioned above is increasing.
What Are the Primary IT Needs of a Clinic/Office?
There are three primary IT infrastructure needs that a clinic or medical office has to implement. These three needs are:
2. Network (printers, scanners, etc. included)
3. Backup Solution
The first primary need is of proper computer implementation. Computers can be custom built to match the needs of the clinic or office, or they can be purchased from computer manufacturers such as HP or Dell. I prefer to go after hardware over looks. Most computers in medical offices and clinics are not visible to the patients. Therefore, going after fancy cases should not be a concern. What matters more are the internal components that should run smoothly and efficiently. Fancy cases sometimes pose a problem when it comes to repair as their port structure and form factor hinder easy access to components. I suggest a range of $300 to $400 for a computer (without a monitor) that should be sufficient for a medical clinic or office.
The second primary need is that of the network. The network infrastructure consists of switches, routers, and peripheral devices like the printer or scanner. Cisco offers the best networking solutions when it comes to switches and routers, but D-link and HP also offer good products for less of a cost. Ethernet wiring (cables for the network to connect all of the devices) should be at the very least Cat. 5e so that it can accommodate Gigabit speeds. I would prefer Cat. 6, as needs for the future should be considered when placing a network. Some clinics and offices don’t have Internet connection. This is something that needs to be thought out as remote support options aren’t available if there is no Internet connection, and the cost of on-site support can cost more than the remote support. As for printers and scanners, a Xerox device or any HP LaserJet can do the job. Support for these devices usually come with the manufacturer for a limited time.
Probably the most important need for medical offices and clinics is a proper backup solution. I’ve experienced a case where patient data had not been properly backed up for two years and when a problem hit, there was no recent backup for all of the patient data. Luckily I was able to extract the core files from the broken down computer’s hard drive and insert them into the new computer. If it wasn’t for that, that clinic would have lost crucial data that would have hurt them in many ways. I recommend on-site and off-site backup: a hybrid solution of backing up to an external drive or network share as well as backing up to the Internet, in case a fire or burglary hits. Having a backup solution that works is important and that requires proper checks. Daily checks of both the on-site and off-site backups should be done by an MSP like Soulistech to ensure proper security and availability of data.