Choosing a broadband connection has the single biggest impact on the smooth functioning of the practice management software. I will show you 6 rules for choosing the right broadband connection.
1. Bandwidth Required
Estimate the number of concurrent users at your clinic. (If you have a user accessing the medical software from outside the clinic e.g. an accountant checking the daily bill report, do not count him as a user). Then ask your EMR vendor to estimate the amount of bandwidth required for the given number of concurrent users. You will then have a fair idea of the kind of broadband plans relevant for your medical clinic.
2. Shared or Dedicated
Ask the ISP if the bandwidth plans are shared or dedicated? Shared speeds mean that “at most” you will get the speed mentioned in your plan, but during peak periods you will most likely not get it, as the bandwidth gets distributed to other broadband users in your locality/suburb. For example, a 2000 KBPS (2MBPS) shared connection in the ratio of 1:3, means you will likely get 700 KBPS during peak periods. Since your clinic will operate during normal business hours, you are better off going for a corporate connection that has a lower sharing ratio of 1:2, or if you are running a large clinic, it is worth investing in a dedicated connection.
Usually, upload speeds are 1/4 of the download speeds. A symmetric connection means that the upload and download speeds are equal. If it comes at a small premium, it will be well worth it in terms of the extra shot of speed you will enjoy. Usually, corporate broadband connections have this option.
4. Last mile connectivity
Ask your telecom vendor how will they provide the “last mile connectivity” – this is telecom jargon that means, how the broadband connection will physically reach your clinic. Options you will get are through the telephone line, overhead cable, or wireless unit setup at the top of your building. In Developing countries, telephone cables are the worst as the old copper lines suffer from high levels of noise and lead to frequent disconnections, avoid it. Wireless units are the best, and overhead cables are a deserving 2nd.
5. Avoid Long term Contracts initially
Try to avoid locking into any long-term contract with the ISP. Commit for a month or a quarter at the most. Regardless of what your ISP commits to unless you use the connection for a few days, you will not be sure of the promised bandwidth & service versus the actuals.
6. Secondary Connection
You MUST have a secondary backup connection from a different ISP. I cannot emphasise this enough. It is like driving a car without 3rd party insurance. Should your primary ISP suffer an outage – and they will, you will go dark, and this could last days. This is one expense you do not want to skimp on, you must have a secondary connection from a different ISP, preferably a connection with an alternate medium for last-mile connectivity. For example, if the primary connection is wireless choose an overhead cable as your secondary connection.