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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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What infrastructure and hardware needs should be considered?

Institutions should examine servers, paying close attention to processor speed, RAM, operating system and disk space.  Providers should work with their vendors to ensure that their hardware has the specifications required to run the health IT system under consideration.  Vendors, especially in the hospital information system market, often require that specific servers be purchased for implementation of the health IT system. 

In addition to assessing their servers, providers should catalogue all PCs in the organization.  This inventory should include profiles of the PC configurations.  Also, some health IT systems may require additional peripheral devices, such as special printers, mobile cart scanners or biometric devices.  Organizations should keep in mind that the potential costs of purchasing and maintaining these peripheral devices will be separate from the cost of the health IT system itself.

Providers also need to ensure adequate network connectivity.  Obtaining high bandwidth connections is challenging in rural settings where low population densities make covering the costs of required expensive equipment more difficult.  Subscribing to a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) is one option that providers can pursue in areas where cable and DSL is unavailable.  Another way to enable adequate connectivity is by collaborating with other providers to set up a wide area network (WAN).  Unlike a local area network (LAN), which is limited to a specific region, a WAN covers a broader area and can connect across boundaries set by other network types.  Typically, a WAN consists of more than two LANs.  A WAN links networks together so that computers in different locations can communicate.  Most often, computers participating in a WAN connect through telephones, leased lines or satellites.

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Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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