Do you need a server for your PMS system?

There is great excitement within the medical community as many practices prepare to make one of the most significant changes to their I.T. infrastructure in recent years: moving to new cloud-based practice management systems. Naturally, along with this excitement, there are a few questions that should be addressed.

1. So, are the rumours true? If we move to Indici or Cloud Evolution, will we no longer need a server?

There isn’t a blanket answer which can be applied to all private medical practices, so let’s look at some other roles that servers commonly provide:

AUTHENTICATION

The underlying networking technology on most Microsoft servers is Active Directory. This provides a central point where user accounts can be created/disabled, passwords set, and create specific policies. It’s what allows you to log onto any computer with the same password and enforce company settings such as a standard desktop image or the automatic configuring of printers. Some technologies such as terminal servers (mentioned next) cannot operate without Active Directory.

TERMINAL SERVICES

Many private practices use terminal servers to provide a seamless experience, regardless of which workstation they log onto, including when working remotely. It provides a full desktop environment on the server that is logged into per-person and facilitates the use of low cost devices instead of more powerful desktop computers. Terminal services runs from a Windows server environment.

SHARED COMPANY DATA

If you have a shared network drive (this often has a drive letter such as P, M, or O), your company documents, spreadsheets, scanned images reside somewhere on your server.

3RD PARTY APPLICATIONS

There are many accounting and medical programs that must reside on a server, or output data to a server location in order to be securely stored and backed up. Some examples include MYOB and Welch Allyn’s ECG monitor.

There are many facets to keeping a practice’s I.T. running smoothly and securely. Some of these have an almost effortless transition to cloud-based option and some are more complicated. If there is any uncertainty, the best option would be to discuss your requirements and goals with your trusted IT advisor who can help you on your journey forward.

Do_you_need_a_server_for_your_PMS_system

2. What is one of the main security aspects that our company should keep an eye out for?

Changing from internal servers to cloud based platforms represents a fundamental shift in terms of information security and sovereignty – no longer are medical records totally within your control, so it is critical that security is a leading consideration.

The Ministry of Health’s stance on cloud computing (set in 2017) grants no overarching exemption for public cloud platforms (e.g.: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.) and requires individual health providers to undertake a formal risk assessment of any cloud system they wish to adopt.

While this level of scrutiny is not required when the cloud platform resides in New Zealand, the potential risk associated with data loss/breaches still exist. It is up to individual practices to perform their due diligence to ensure the cloud platform is secure, regularly backed up, has a disaster recovery strategy, and limits access to patient data to only those authorised to access it.

More information on the Ministry’s recommended areas of risk assessment can be found here : https://www.ict.govt.nz/guidance-and-resources/using-cloud-services/assess-the-risks-of-cloud-services/

Remember, you can outsource your infrastructure, but you cannot outsource your risk.

3. So why is the transition to a cloud-based system better for you?

The cloud represents some amazing opportunities to scale up or down as your practice requires, and really get control over some infrastructure costs, providing it is implemented in a well thought out manner.

As a system that is based on a consumption-based model, your costs are based on the company’s performance needs. Your company can run more efficiently by configuring your system to shut down, sleep, or operate at a lower performance level during non-working hours which will therefore reduce the overall cost that goes towards your cloud server. Having it powered off from 10 pm – 6 am every night can save you up to a 1/3 of the operating costs.

Refer to the following blog to learn more about this. https://www.thinkmedical.co.nz/what-is-cloud-computing-and-what-are-the-benefits-for-your-business/

"Think I.T. have looked after our computing needs since the year 2000. Solutions have been recommended and implemented to match our changing needs. We are supported with efficiency and a high level of expertise, allowing us to focus on our business backed up by solid and reliable technology."

Ben Seymour
Allpress Espresso
30-50 users, Think I.T. client since 2000

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