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Blog  –  10 July 2013

Enabling Better Deployment of Healthcare EMR Applications

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By Bobby Edwards

Deployment of a new EMR application is an iterative process that involves customizing the software to a particular hospital’s workflow and procedures. This customization process requires changing the configuration of the application and its embedded database, along with testing, to ensure that the changes have occurred and work as expected.

Because EMR applications are highly complex and involve many interdependent subsystems, making configuration changes can have unintended and unexpected outcomes. As a result, it is often necessary, as part of the deployment process, to roll back to previous points in time in the application – to known “good” states before new custom changes have been made.
During a typical EMR deployment, in fact, these roll backs occur all of the time – sometimes as often as once per day or more.

For obvious reasons, therefore, working with a data management vendor like BridgeHead throughout your deployment process just makes sense. The practice of making frequent backup of new EMR deployments throughout the customization process has proven to be of critical assistance to BridgeHead hospitals, both in terms of enabling the roll back to a known “good” state as well as ensuring that this occurs quickly and easily during deployment.

There are other critical benefits of working with BridgeHead as part of an EMR deployment project, as well: 

  • Hospital IT teams have been able to more easily compare the current state of the EMR configuration against the previous state. This facilitates identification of errors or gaps in the configuration.
  • Hospital IT teams have used good backup copies as better, more advanced starting points for creating a configuration for added departments. For example, by using a known good configuration established for paediatrics as the basis for creating a custom deployment for paediatric oncology.

These are in addition to the fact that backup ensures that the EMR application is protected and recoverable following human error, corruption, and disk failures. This means that all of the work of the deployment cannot be lost.

The Importance of Selecting an Engineered and Supported Backup Solution
One detail about EMR applications, which people sometimes under-estimate in terms of its impact on backup and recovery, is the fact that an object database – like Caché – is integral to the application itself. Changes in the configuration of the application are captured in the database. Backup of the database, therefore, is essential to protecting the custom fit of that application to the hospital environment, and preserving the support of its unique workflows and procedures.
Obtaining an engineered, standard product solution such as is provided by BridgeHead, for your Caché environment helps to ensure the protection and availability of your particular EMR deployment.

Also, based on the experiences that we’ve had working with many hospitals through this critical process, BridgeHead recommends that you select a tool for backup and recovery as part of your planning process, at the time that you begin deployment of your EMR application. This will help ensure a smooth and supported deployment, as well as enabling you to optimize your data protection as an extension of your application environment. We find that administrators, who are trained on working with the backup and recovery operations, find the transition from lab to production much smoother – thus reducing errors and training requirements.

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