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VPNs and Syncs

Posted on 2009-04-10
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Experts,

I am asking this question, because I always get confused as to just what one can do with a VPN and the types of VPNs one can set up. I am trying to help someone with something they are trying to do, and it is a bit like the blind leading the blind. So here goes.

There are three doctors all working in three group homes intermittently with laptops computers. They are all using the same Electronic Medical Record. Each will have an Access database which, of course, stores all of the patient encounters. Of course, each doctor will want to have the same information.

So, there is a central office with a server which houses the actual database with all of the information of all the patients of the three group homes. So, at the end of the day each doctor will want to sync his or her data to the central server. The person I am trying to help just thinks she can have three VPNs from each group home to the central server and just sync from there. I am not sure what type of Internet connection she plans on using. I can find out, of course.

So, I see some issues and questions about this.

1. Wouldn't each location or each laptop need some type of router with a VPN to connect to the VPN at the server?
2. Wouldn't that have to be at the point where the Internet connection is at the location?
3. Again, I get confused with VPNs at times. When I download the SBS connection manager and set it up and connect, I have a VPN, but I can't see the computer I am connected to.
4. I have a VPN connection from my office to the hospital I work at which uses Cisco's EASY VPN, and I can see the hospital computer information, but I believe they use Citrix. Do you need some type of software so you can actually interface with the desktop or database?
5. I would also think there would be a logistical issue. Say Dr. A syncs at 7PM with the server. Now Dr. A has all the information on the server database (as she did before), and the server database is updated with Dr. A's new information. Then Dr. B syncs at 8PM. He now updates the server and has all of that information plus Dr. A's. But, Dr. A is missing that information. And the same with C. He would have ALL the data, but A and B would be missing his.
6. The EMR is designed to connect to the network via a computer with USB. It then syncs. How easy would it be for a computer to sync to a server's database over a VPN?

I don't know why each user couldn't use RWW, RDP, LogMeIn or VNC to connect to the actual EMR on the server and work on the actual EMR on the server.

Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Bert

Again, in general, I understand the concept of tunneling and using a VPN to connect securely. I guess I just don't know how they can be set up and what they can allow you to do as far as using a remote network.
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Question by:Bert2005
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The--Captain earned 500 total points
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>I don't know why each user couldn't use RWW, RDP, LogMeIn or VNC to connect
>to the actual EMR on the server and work on the actual EMR on the server.

Neither do I, if you're using a secured connection (like a VPN), although bandwidth issues could be an issue I suppose, which you might be able to avoid by running apps locally but pulling data from the master server.

If you're using MS Access, surely you realize that it can operate simply as a front end, pulling all it's data from your master SQL server, thus obliviating the need for periodic syncs, since all data is constantly updated live (wifi is your friend, since that enables constant network connectivity for roaming doctors).

Does that help any?

Cheers,
-Jon
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by:Bert2005
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I think it does. I apologize that I am probably ten times more on top of this stuff than the doctors I am trying to help and that still leaves a lot to be desired.

I still get confused as to exactly how VPN works when connecting to remote sites. For instance, I could set up a tunnel using VPN from one computer to a server, but it seems as though I would need something like Citrix to interface with the computer's desktop.

And, I do get confused with Access and SQL at the back end. How would WiFi help unless you mean the remote sites have a wireless broadband access, which is what I think you are referring to.

Syncing is something I think they need to avoid as eventually with three people syncing on and off, there are bound to be errors.

I agree with you that it seems the best way would be to directly connect to the application remotely as long as it is fast enough.
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by:The--Captain
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Wifi is for the doctors, so they stay constantly connected to the network and thus avoid having to "sync" periodically.

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by:Bert2005
ID: 24137689
I know this is a given, Captain, but that would mean that all three doctors in all three locales would have to be able to connect to the wireless network that hopefully wouldn't be securely locked down. Then again, I would hope they would allow the doctors on it given they are working on their patients.
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