Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Choosing hardware

My practice partner decided he wasn't quite ready for EMR. However, he agreed to switch to the new system for billing and scheduling, as our current system was over 10 years old, and was DOS based. We would therefore have a hybrid office, but with a single billing and scheduling system; having two computer systems would have been very difficult for our front staff.

I made a point of trying to keep everyone at my office as up to date as possible. This is a big change, and it helps if people know what is happening.

My group held one more meeting in October, and we decided to sign the contract. We met the company's IT trainers, and we set up dates for them to visit each practice. Our FHN lead reminded everyone to send in the SSHA and EDT applications. We discussed the cost of the server (shared with the other FHN); this is approximately $1,500 per physician. We started to think about hardware: we had a choice between a wired network with desktop PCs (or "workstations") in each room, and a wireless network with tablet PCs for the physicians. Please see the glossary for a definition of Tablet PC.

We each gave a check for the software to our FHN lead physician, to deposit in our group account. The contract is for the entire group, so the FHN pays for the software, not each individual physician.

The two IT trainers came to my office a week later. They spoke with my staff and me, and had a look at my practice's physical layout. I thought I would prefer to have two workstations at the front desk (as I have two staff members there), and a tablet PC for myself. I use a Palm PDA very often, and had gone to FutureShop to try the Tablet PC: it felt like a large PDA, and I thought I'd be comfortable with this method of data entry. My partner chose one desktop PC for his consultation room, and did not need any computers in his exam rooms. I wanted a printer in each room (to print prescriptions, because electronic transmission of prescriptions is not allowed, and to print handouts). Printers are very inexpensive, and can be plugged into the Tablet as needed. The trainers had a look at my existing computers and equipment; most of it was very outdated, and little could be salvaged.

Once everyone had a site visit, the company asked us to email them our thoughts about the hardware we needed. For my practice, this was:
  • 2 workstations for the front, 1 for my partner
  • 1 tablet PC for me
  • 1 network printer for the front
  • 4 printers
  • 1 card swiper
  • 2 label printers
  • 1 scanner
Our IT lead set up a meeting in December with the Project Manager assigned to us, to go over our hardware choices, and set up the training schedules.


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