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What technology can make medical records retrieval more efficient?

When healthcare providers need to retrieve medical records from an EHR, keeping in mind where the data is stored will affect how quickly and efficiently the records can be accessed.

When it comes to medical records retrieval, there isn't one single technology that is universally guaranteed to make the process more efficient. While there are proven ways to increase the efficiency of medical records retrieval, each EHR system is a little bit different, and any attempts at improving efficiency must take the underlying architecture into account.

EHR systems generally fall into two categories -- cloud-based and on premises. For the purposes of this discussion, cloud-based medical records systems will be discussed in the context of SaaS, even though it is possible to run EHR software on an IaaS cloud.

In the case of cloud-based systems, there isn't a lot you can do to improve the efficiency of medical records retrieval. After all, the software is running in the vendor's own data center, and has presumably been optimized for performance by the vendor. The biggest performance bottleneck in these situations is likely to be internet bandwidth. After all, a healthcare provider may have any number of systems that are competing with the EHR system for bandwidth. Even something as simple as an operating system update requires internet bandwidth. As such, an organization may be able to improve the efficiency of medical records retrieval by using a dedicated internet connection, or by putting quality of service policies into place to ensure that adequate bandwidth is always available.

In the case of software that is running on premises, upgrading to solid state storage (or at least implementing a flash-based storage cache) is likely to yield the biggest performance improvement. Even so, it is impossible to know if faster storage will improve medical records retrieval speeds without using a performance monitor to check for performance bottlenecks. In many cases, performance bottlenecks may occur, not because the storage is too slow, but because the medical records system has not been given enough RAM. Only performance monitoring will reveal the true cause of performance issues.

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