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Options for synchronizing an Access Database

Posted on 2007-08-05
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I am planning to develop an Access 2000 Database to store patient data for my small medical practice.  Three or four people might be users of the database.  One, maybe two, will be laptop users working outside the office at hospitals or other patient care sites.  At the office I have Small Business Server 2000 and 4 Windows XP client desktops.

A partial view of the table relationships would be:

                     ContactID <<---------------  ContactID (GUID)
                     Problem                              PatientID <<----------------PatientID
                     Exam                                  Date                                 PatientName
                     Assessment                      Time                                 Date of Birth
                     etc                                      UserID                              Etc.
                                                                  |
                                                                  |--------------UserID
                                                                                     UserName

So, let's say I have the backend of the database on the server sitting at "x."
I go to the hosptial and enter contact "x+1", so does my medical assistant back at the office.
So, now there are two "x+1" contacts.

I know that this might be an example where replication might be used or some might recommend a Terminal Server approach.  Alternatively should I generate some GUID based on code which I have seen on this site which takes the date/time date of the record creation and randomizes it somehow.

With the Terminal Server approach, I believe I would have to buy new hardware and software.  Plus I need to make sure the server connection is HIPAA compliant.

I would appreciate some advice.
                                                                 

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Question by:rreiss60
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LVL 75

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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft MVP, Access and Data Platform) earned 800 total points
ID: 19634733
This can be done with Access Replication.  I have two clients who do this daily with 3-4 laptops ... for a couple of years.  But ... make a quick copy and paste backup of the mdb prior to replicating ...

Tools>>Replication>>Create Replica ... and go from there.  It's very cool for this sort of thing.  

This should get you started:

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa140024(office.10).aspx

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HP052167961033.aspx

There are several articles at this link from the Master of Replication ... Michael Kaplan:

http://www.trigeminal.com/usenet/usenet.asp?1033

mx
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LVL 19

Assisted Solution

by:Richard Daneke
Richard Daneke earned 400 total points
ID: 19635132
Your SBS server will permit two Terminal Server connections without additional licensing.  Documentation mentions that this will be Administrator services, but this will permit your laptops to connect and authenticate with user name and password.
With the small office size of your network, they could log on remotely and use Access on the server to work.  This will eliminate the hassles of replication and you could use Autonumber for your  ContactID.  Access will assign unique autonumber to anyone adding a patient - even if everyone starts a new contact at the 'same time'
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LVL 85

Assisted Solution

by:Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE ) earned 800 total points
ID: 19635220
In this case, replication would probably be a better choice ... TS requires an internet connection, which may not always be available. With replication, your laptop users would always be able to work, even with no internet connection. Replicated databases use a numbering scheme which pretty much eliminates duplicates, but depending on the way your db is setup you could, possibly, run into duplicates. If you allow Access to handle the numbering (i.e. use AutoNumbers) then you should have no problem.

Be VERY careful when deploying an Access application if you must be HIPAA compliant ... if you're not fluent in security, you would be well advised to hire someone who can make sure your app is locked down correctly. It's pretty straight forward to break in to an Access database with minimal time, effort, and money ... just something to be aware of.
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LVL 75
ID: 19635262
"if you're not fluent in security, you would be well advised to hire someone "

And I would recommend:  LSM :-)

mx
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Author Comment

by:rreiss60
ID: 19635795
Two of three experts recommend replication.  I like the idea of being able to work even if the internet an internet connection isn't available for some reason.  Also

As far as security goes, I am planning to have full disk encryption for the computers as well as password protections.

I will increase the points and distribute them accordingly.
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