How do we conduct a technology infrastructure assessment?
As part of the process for selecting a vendor and a product, an institution should conduct a more detailed assessment of its current technology infrastructure and determine what future changes will be necessary if a particular health IT solution is chosen. This assessment can prevent barriers to implementation and potential go-live snags. Rural communities, in particular, may have unique infrastructure issues, such as difficulty obtaining stable internet access, which will need to be resolved prior to system implementation.
Rural clinics or small CAHs will often decide to select a system that is hosted by the vendor. Some clinics may also have the option of choosing a solution that is offered by a local hospital. In such cases, the infrastructure evaluation will need to consider the number of computer terminals required, the operating system capabilities, and the need for peripheral devices, such as printers. Often, a commercial vendor will assist providers in conducting workflow analyses and assessing technical requirements.
Larger rural critical access and community hospitals will often have basic IT infrastructure and technical staff. These organizations should examine their existing servers, computers, peripheral devices and network capabilities. Additionally, staff should conduct a gap analysis to determine what technologies are currently implemented and to identify what technologies or changes would be necessary to support each of the health IT system candidates. Vendors often have specifications with regard to hardware, software and networking that may necessitate upgrades or modifications to the existing IT infrastructure with consequent resource allocation implications. Additional information regarding technology infrastructure assessments is available in module three of the Health IT Adoption Toolbox.
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