Part 2 of my 6 part series offered food for thought regarding how to approach selecting the right practice management and imaging software that works best with multi-location practices as well as tips regarding dealing with the conversion of a database that exists in a practice you may consider folding into your new mini or boutique corporation. In Part 3, we’ll look at implementing the change and storage of your newly merged database.
3) Implement the software/imaging change and train the team – right away! This is crucial to a successful transition. If a team member, or the whole team for that matter can’t handle it, it’s best to know right away. TAKE TIME OFF (meaning NO patients, NO ringing phones, etc) to properly train the team. This is the most overlooked and least implemented part of a proper transition. Doing this right in the beginning will reap benefits later. Expecting people to figure it out on their own. Charging one team member who used to use the software at another practice 5 years ago with the responsibility of training the rest of the team, while still completing his or her duties, is ludicrous at best and leads to potentially expensive errors, frustration, and employee turnover.
4) Ready to add practice #2? Right now is a good time to move your data and server into a data center. Many people would argue that creating RDP sessions from other offices to the main server is the way to go. I disagree and here’s why. RDP involves buying and maintaining additional server equipment and licensing. IT also requires a beefy amount of bandwidth between locations. For what you spend on hardware and the internet connection alone, you can put a hearty server in a data center. Now you have a server that is off-site and accessible from each location independently. Here’s what I mean: If you have a server in location A that gets accessed by locations b, c, and d…what happens when you lose power at location A? How about when the internet goes down? ALL the other locations are affected – its the proverbial domino effect. Housing your server and database in a data center eliminates that risk as each location accesses the data independently. Data centers also typically have a generous amount of redundant power. For example: Our data center here in Jacksonville has 4 giant backup generators that can power the data center for 3 days in the event of a catastrophic power loss. They are contracted with a delivery service to provide fuel for the generators in the event that the power loss exceeds that time frame. In addition, they operate on the same power grid as St. Vincent’s hospital which means that in the hierarchy of who gets power turned on first, they are at the top.
Physical and electronic security is serious at a data center. They have extremely stringent protocols that they have to meet. Health information is not the only data that gets stored there – major companies store financial data for not just themselves, but their clients too. Everyone in the center reaps the rewards of state of the art security. Data centers like ours are equipped with fire suppression systems, have raised floors to protect from flooding, biometric access, and have to meet PCI, HIPAA, and other data security requirements.
Another big advantage is that almost all internet roads lead to data centers. Typically, most of the major internet providers have a huge pipeline going into the building so that corporations have the bandwidth they need to access their data. This means a fast, secure, consistent connection to your data from your office locations. Once you are in a data center, adding locations is as easy as adding PCs and users.
My next article, Part 4 of this series, is all about phone systems...look for it next week!
By- Dez Merrow, Technology Integration Consultant at DPC Technology