Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Networking my office

The network installer came on January 27th, a Friday. It is not a good idea to install on a Monday, as those days are too busy.

I had to choose between a wired and wireless network. I've heard various opinions on problems with safety, speed and stability of wireless. It is difficult to know, as the technology changes so fast. It seems to me that wireless is a reasonable option now; security can be properly configured if done by a professional. In any case, having a tablet means having a wireless network, since the tablet is portable.

I ended up choosing to have both. Each wired "drop" (or plug in the wall that connects to your network) costs $150. This is a one time capital cost, it would be difficult for me to arrange for someone to come in to do a single line through the ceiling. I ended up having wired network connections (or RJ45 outlets) in every examining room, at the front, and beside my scale. I will also have a wireless router.

Another way to think about this is to have wired connections for all desktops computers (ie, the front computers for your staff), and wireless for the tablet. I also put in an extra RJ45 outlet in the front for the credit/debit card pinpad; you can have those run through the broadband connection, instead of tying up your phone line. Two companies that supply pinpads are Moneris and Paymentech.

I am thinking of buying some network printers. These are not expensive anymore. They can use the network cable (Ethernet) instead of USB, and I'll put one in each exam room. Then I can use my tablet to access my network wirelessly, and print prescriptions and handouts in the room.

Our contract includes some nice desktop computers, with extensive warranties. It is good to get those for "mission critical" areas, for example for your front staff. If that computer breaks down, you want it fixed, fast. As well, the tablet includes a very good warranty. I will probably buy some inexpensive eMachines in the future for less critical areas, for example, where the scales and vaccine fridge are, so that weights and fridge temperatures can be recorded. Perhaps I can find a thermometer with software that automatically sends the temperature to the computer.

I also work at a satellite office, in a residence for seniors, once a week. I had the network installer put a network connection there as well. The building's front office has broadband (which they're letting me use), and I can access my server via VPN. I won't have to trudge charts back and forth from my office anymore.

Our first training session will be February 8th.


1 comment:

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