Optimising Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) means maximising availability, performance and security – and that’s where load balancers come in. George Booth, Healthcare Business Development Manager at Loadbalancer.org, tells us more
Whilst EHR in the UK has yet to be fully implemented, it is already prevalent in North America. In the US, if you encounter a health emergency while on holiday or a business trip, you no longer have to carry your medicine or recall hard-to-remember drug names for the doctor you see in a new city.
Chances are that after asking a few generic questions, the doctor will already have access to all the information he/she needs, including your prescription, right on their mobile, or computer screen. This is thanks to EHR systems that help coordinate care among multiple healthcare providers, giving them access to active patient records.
What is an EHR?
Simply put, an EHR is the digital paper chart, detailing a patient’s full medical history; including medications, allergies, diagnoses, treatment plans, immunisation dates, radiology images, and test results.
These systems are designed to:
- Supply a comprehensive end-to-end medical history
- Provide evidence-based tools that can be used to make meaningful decisions about patient care
- Automate and streamline provider workflow in a healthcare setting
EHR market overview
Currently, around 500 vendors are offering some type of EHR product. More and more healthcare providers around the world are moving away from paper-based health records to EHRs; making real-time, patient-centred information instantly and securely available. This results in more connected, higher quality patient care.
In the US for example, although the transition was not achieved overnight, the use of EHR has become much more widespread since the passage of the HITECH Act. This was made law in February 2009, which resulted in a three to nine-fold increase in take-up, depending on the practice setting. As a result, the global EHR market is projected to grow from an estimated $30 billion in 2020 to $40 billion by 2025.
EHR and telehealth
During the coronavirus pandemic, telephone and virtual consultations gained a great deal of momentum. Consequently, most EHR vendors and organisations stepped up to make telehealth a mainstream offering; collaborating to develop detailed COVID-19 dashboards, and enhancing EHR data analytics.
As integrating telehealth with EHRs gains prominence, healthcare IT providers are building robust infrastructures to facilitate this shift remotely – triggering a rise in virtual EHR implementation. Looking at the success of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence suggests that this is just the beginning of a seismic shift in doctor/patient communications.
EHR: ensuring high availability (and more) with a load balancer
In a nutshell, deploying a load balancer makes critical EHR applications more stable and highly available – ultimately improving the quality of patient care.
By dynamically interrogating key server elements such as the number of concurrent connections and CPU/memory utilisation, intelligent load balancing algorithms mean that load balancers can distribute and direct users to the best performing, accessible servers – thus avoiding server bottlenecks and application failure. This ensures EHR applications are available and always running at optimum performance, ensuring instant access to data for clinicians and patients.
Furthermore, in the event of a server failure, application inaccessibility, or scheduled maintenance, a load balancer can take that server offline, automatically rerouting users to other healthy and functioning servers. So, by managing the traffic to EHR systems, a load balancer helps avoid system outages and downtime – essential for every healthcare setup delivering 24/7 patient care.
For these reasons, installing a load balancing solution in front of an EHR system provides the following benefits:
- Ensures reliable access to critical systems for clinicians and healthcare providers
- Introduces a complementary layer of security
- Supports health centres in the provision of an “always available” application environment.
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