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3 Steps to Improved EMR Support

08/27/2012 by: The SunView Team

Are you ready to support Electronic Medical Record (EMR) processes? The answer usually ranges from sort of to not at all. A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) can help.

Implementing an EMR into your health information system adds complexity to the management of the entire IT environment including your critical systems. Numerous changes are required from the data center to the desktop, so organizations must have the processes in place to be able to quickly adapt. In a 7 x 24 environment, IT controls must be in place to protect against unplanned and unauthorized change and insure high availability of systems. There are three steps that every organization should be taking to improve support of EMR:

1. Discover and Document all IT Assets

To meet growing challenges such as maintaining EMR records and meeting HIPAA security provisions, it is important for healthcare organizations to identify current assets and implement controls to manage these assets. Unfortunately, in most organizations, numerous departmental technology solutions have been purchased and are operational within the healthcare environment. These disparate solutions can be difficult to manage and identify. One of the keys to successful implementation and management of an EMR system is discovering and documenting IT assets for the entire existing IT infrastructure.

A key tool in achieving this is a CMDB. The CMDB that you choose should include a tool to automatically discover your IT resources (Configuration Items or CIs) - business services, hardware, software, users, documentation, and configuration. Using agentless and dynamic probing methods such as WMI, SNMP, and SSH, your solution should provide you with a 360-degree view into your network assets and how they relate to each other.

2. Establish Change Controls

Once you understand what assets you have and how the assets are configured, you need a central repository where the critical IT assets and their configurations are managed. Then, every time you make a change to a critical asset you can assess whether it has an impact on the EMR system or any other critical assets. It has also become even more important to track non-datacenter assets such as mobile carts and other various medical equipment for impact and risk analysis. Regardless of asset type, it is essential to track every request for change through a consistent process. This will ensure that all changes receive the necessary approvals and will not have a negative effect on the availability of services.

Change and Configuration Management are integral parts of an effective Change Management process. IT organizations need to have complete visibility into their IT infrastructure. Without understanding IT component dependencies and their relationships, introducing change into an IT environment can result in catastrophic consequences. Accurate configuration information is also vital in order to streamline end user support.

3. Institute On-going Compliance Auditing

Availability and confidentiality, enforcement and auditing of EMR compliance standards will become even more stringent going forward. Having a Change and Configuration Management solution will help your organization put more system controls and security measures in place for auditing requirements.

When you implement a CMDB solution and add the ability to automatically discover assets, you create a federated repository of IT resources. Once you have a comprehensive list of CIs and their dependencies, you can automatically monitor hardware and software changes, alert IT staff of unauthorized system changes and network access, and more efficiently perform other system management activity.

If you want to improve support of your EMR processes, choose a complete CMDB and asset discovery solution. Then you are three steps closer to better control of your EMR processes.