Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting Started With OSCAR - The Basics

After your decision to get an EMR, and your evaluation of the open and closed options available to you, it is time to plunge in and get started.

For new OSCAR users, you have a number of choices available to you starting with doing it yourself, or getting help.

If you want to do it yourself, you should join the OSCAR Users email list and review the installation instructions.

If you decide on getting help, you can contact one of the OSCAR Support companies.

OSCAR is very flexible and runs today in both large and small clinics. Most clinics run two servers - a main server which everyone one uses day to day, and a backup server which is used in the unlikely case of a failure in the first machine.

Since your EMR is supporting your real time business, and no one enjoys having a queue of patients piling up in their lobby, the two server configuration is very popular.

Not everyone runs their practice on two servers though. Some elect for a single server, and some run three.

In the case of running a single server, you would use OSCAR's manual backup mechanism to ensure that if you had a failure, you would not lose your data. Of course, if you only have one server and it fails, you will need to create a new OSCAR in order to put your backed-up data back into use.

An increasing number of clinics have elected to run three OSCAR servers. These clinics tend to run two servers onsite, synchronizing their data in realtime, and a third server offsite, generally synchronizing via a daily batch process.

Other than servers, you will need to get a decent and secure local network in your office (either wired or secure wireless will work with OSCAR).

High speed internet access is needed if you plan on accessing your data when you are not in your office. As OSCAR has very good security and uses encryption on all its communications, most people do leverage their internet connections so that they can access OSCAR from wherever is most convenient.

One accesses OSCAR via the web browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari, etc,...) you have on your computer. OSCAR is very efficient and so you do not have to run out and buy all new equipment in order to start. Most clinics will use their existing laptops and desktops when they first start.

Many OSCAR clinics use dedicated document scanners to get rid of the paper which arrives everyday. Most would agree that a good quality scanner, such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap s1500, is an investment worth making.

Network capable laser printers are another popular inclusion to a busy OSCAR office.

OSCAR allows you to start small and grow as needed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting Started With OSCAR - The Homework

You want to deploy an EMR and you are scratching your head trying to figure out where to begin.

The first thing to do is shop around.

OSCAR is a wonderfully powerful and easy to use EMR. It is also, by far, the most cost effective solution of any available (as you know, OSCAR has $0 licensing fees). OSCAR is the only OntarioMD certified open source EMR. OSCAR is only EMR that, by design and legal license, can never lock you out of your system, nor block your access to your patient information. Forever.

However, there are other EMR options. Please check out the market leader Practice Solutions. Practice Solutions is owned by the CMA and thus you will have some level of confidence that the organization will be around for a while.

While comparing OSCAR to Practice Solutions, notice that the user interfaces on both the solutions are easy to use and based on modern architectural paradigms. Both OSCAR and Practice Solutions both offer a similar range of functionality and features and both offer support for similar governmental and technical standards.

OSCAR and Practice Solutions have dramatically different commercial and licensing models.

While shopping around, it is very important that you understand not only the day to day costs and fees, but also the legal rights that you retain for both yourself and the data that you enter into the EMR. Read the fine print. OSCAR's license agreement can be found here.

OSCAR is an open source licensed solution and is free of software bombs. Practice Solutions is not open source and does contain software bombs.

There are other EMR vendors available, and you should evaluate all of them, but chances are your choice will come down to the two market leaders: OSCAR, the #1 open source EMR in Canada, and Practice Solutions, the #1 closed source EMR in Canada.