I owe a great deal to the following products and IT solutions used by me personally over a period of the last 13 years managing multiple medical group practices and businesses. They are the real, magical solutions for managing or building a great medical practice.
This IT checklist lists essential IT tools for vendors, practice administrators and physicians. These tools make the lives of physicians and patients more comfortable. This checklist can also be used to start your medical group practice..
1. VMware Vsphere 5.5
VMware Vsphere 5.5 ESXI is a free tool for managing up to four virtual servers in any environment. Medical practices should opt for this tool, which sits in between Windows server software and Dell or any hardware. This helps in managing multiple servers with very little space, and provides scalability for the life of your EMR Data.
Even if your office is using a Cloud-based solution for critical applications like EMR, you still need domain servers, fax and phone servers, file servers for managing the daily office work or communication across the different offices and employees. One VMware license for VM center server can also be purchased for large size enterprises.
2. Office 365
Office 365 provides Cloud-based email exchange and office applications. For less than $5 per user, per month, you can enjoy lifetime access to the Office applications and email exchange, which can be synced among multiple devices like your iPhone and desktop.
Office 365 can be purchased online or through your IT vendor. This easy-to-use service also protects the medical practice from unauthorized use of expired email accounts, such as those of terminated employees.
3. 3CX or Fonality Cloud-based/Onsite Phone System
IP Phones are the best option for multiple location, multi-provider offices. 3CX and Fonality phone server applications provide some great Cloud-based solutions that can also be installed on a small server on site. Our recommendations would be to keep data in-house and use an in-house server. These solutions work with Voicepulse or any IP based telephony service. The cost of IP based telephony services is very cheap compare to analog phone line. these solutions are flexible enough to move without changing the analog line in case your practice location changes.
Internal servers are faster than the cloud , and free-from ongoing subscription charges and data remain in your control. 3CX servers provide multi-location advantages, and a reliable recording facility. You can configure your holiday messages and patient phone calls for better call center service. Supervisors are even able to jump into calls to intervene if required.
Calls can be forwarded to outside locations to save answering service expenses. You may use iPhone apps to make calls using the same network, and run both data and phone traffic on one network wire; this gives iPhones a tremendous edge over traditional, analog phone lines. ALERT if you decide to go to cloud then expect a little delay in your calls.
4. 2008/2012 Windows Servers
Windows Servers 2008 or 2012 are lifelines for IT infrastructure. You can use these servers to connect desktops under one network, and install phone and fax servers, DHCP and file servers. Most EMR or database applications require a Windows server platform. These are the most important IT assets to your organization.
5. Backup Strategy, Including Acronis or Windows backup
Backup storage, on site and online, provides peace of mind against disastrous failures, such as hard drive crashes and server failures. Windows 2008 and 2012 provide a great backup utility to help in restoring data in real-time; however, if you are looking for restorations that are more flexible and application-based, then we recommend using Acronis.
Acronis is a leading software in backup disaster management that can be installed on every desktop or server. If you are using VMware, then you have a different version of this designed for VMware. NetGear and Dell provide network-based storage solutions that can be used for the whole enterprise.
We also recommend creating an additional storage drive on each server for dedicated backups, which will allow the data to be restored in a much faster way than using network-based storage.
6. Fax Servers Such as RightFax
HIPAA compliant fax servers are essential applications that should be deployed in the entire enterprise. RightFax is a great tool that provides HIPAA complaint solutions for medical groups or business that deal with patient data. Practices should use these software solutions to send faxes with guaranteed security. Most EMR come with their own built-in faxing solutions, which can be used as well.
7. Secure Encrypted Email Exchange Through Globalscape or Appriver
A secure email exchange service is extremely important if you use email in patient communication. Appriver and Globalscape provide secure email solutions that are easy to use, and protect patient confidentiality. Secure communication is extremely important from a compliance perspective.
QuickBooks is a great accounting solution for practice offices large and small. Network-based versions can manage your HR functions, bill pay, self-pay patient invoicing and vendor management very effectively. We recommend keeping the accounting software in-house, and providing remote access to an external accountant using the terminal server.
This gives you total control over your data, and helps you avoid duplicate data entry and errors during the transition of paper-based accounting data to the CPA firm. In the new version of QuickBooks, you can scan invoices and important documents centrally, providing a repository of all important documents in one place. You can also link scanned documents to their respective accounts.
9. Acroprint and Other Fingerprint Readers
Biometric fingerprint readers are a great choice for tracking employee hours; Acroprint provides amazing solutions for this. Depending upon the size of your group, you can pick from different versions of Acroprint, through which data can be exported to QuickBooks as a report, creating accurate payroll for the period.
Last but not least, Hootsuite.com is a great tool to market your services by using multiple social medial platforms all in one place. Social media is a great way to connect with new or existing patients, and can help in marketing and patient satisfaction.