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Hybrid comes to your EHR systems

There’s nothing simple about the IT needs of a modern medical practice. In a small to mid-size practice, the application infrastructure has to support everything from office productivity applications to advanced imaging, group scheduling, integration with external systems, and collaboration thrown in for good measure. If that weren’t enough, all of it has to be resilient, high-performance, and compliant with a variety of regulatory frameworks.

If you’re considering a hybrid architecture for your application delivery system, there are implications for your network infrastructure and for your servers. If you don’t take care of the specifications, you’ll likely have to deal with unhappy users.

1. Start with thinking about applications

The first set of qualities to look for is qualities related directly to the application or applications hosted on-premises. Relatively few healthcare applications are heavily transactional in nature (they tend not to involve tens of thousands of relatively small chunks of data coming in every minute). Critical healthcare applications are more analytical, with fewer, larger data files read and written.

That means:

  1. Storage optimized for rapid reads rather than writes
  2. Networking and data handling that prioritizes smooth block transfer rather than connection buffering
  3. Sufficient RAM to allow larger files to be held in memory for processing before being written to disk or transferred via the network to another system

2. Privacy and compliance

Because of privacy regulations, many healthcare practices don’t have the same range of cloud options available to other organizations. This means many of the questions generally asked about cloud services don’t come into play, and the biggest question is: Which services are compliant?

You should also remember that compliant services can be accessed and integrated in non-compliant ways. Make sure that your staff and your integrator understand the privacy implications of the cloud services and implementation methods you choose.

3. Networking

Servers built for use in a hybrid architecture are responsible for processing and storing some data, while other data is transferred to and from the cloud. Ask serious questions about the networking capabilities of your candidates along with the software available to manage the network.

4. Processing

Finally, a hybrid architecture is one in which the number and type of processing cores matters. A CPU that can devote dedicated core time to application processing, operating system overhead, and data transfer (among other tasks) will be able to dramatically reduce the response time in network transactions.

Those dedicated cores should also be able to gracefully handle any delays that exist in communication with cloud systems or on-premises infrastructure.

Hybrid systems can help smaller practices stay on par with larger healthcare providers. Make sure, though, that you pay as much attention to your on-premises server specifications as you do to your cloud services. Else, you’ll find yourself trying to mitigate some serious performance issues.

Need advice on new IT projects? Want tips for speeding up your network? Call us at (610) 640-4223 for IT advice.

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