How to remotely access a doctor's office's files?
November 9, 2011 11:25 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for advice to come up with a technological solution for a physician’s office in NB, Canada. The scenario is that I would like patient files to be accessible remotely while still satisfying health privacy laws (PIPEDA), especially the part about patient records having to be stored in Canada.

I’m not really trying to use you all for free business advice. I am willing to pay someone to help me figure out this problem but how I’m at a loss for how to find such a person - Yellow Pages computing services? I don’t have much of a technology background: I’m a little familiar with using VPNs, SSH and FTP in a university setting and that’s about it.

All the computers involved use Windows Vista or 7. For word processors, either Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 or Google Docs (see below). I’m only concerned with documents and maybe PDFs.

I have seen this question asked from a private home perspective.

Here are the possible solutions I’ve come up with so far but feel free to suggest a better idea.

D-Link DNS-323

The idea of you have a firewall, punch a hole in it and then you can access remotely using a password theoretically makes sense to me but I would need help set it up. How do I find someone? Otherwise, this does seem like the simplest idea. If you have any recommendations for version control with Microsoft Word 2010, they would be appreciated. I have tried googling and got several options. What is the best backup solution for this scenario?

Secure VPN

I only understand the basic idea; I have no idea about how to get it set-up and the security concerns.

Google Docs

The pros are: intuitive, don’t need someone tech savy to set it up; we've already started using Google Docs for non-confidential documents; I like Google Docs revision history and ease for multiple users

The cons: Health Privacy concerns: encryption and health records must be stored in Canada. One possible solution is Perspecsys, which interfaces between, say, Google Docs and us. However, they don’t currently offer a small office version and won’t until 2nd quarter of 2012

Microsoft Sharepoint

Googling found me this about Microsoft Sharepoint for doctors’ offices. Concerns are still that we need a Canadian-based server. Parts of it seem like overkill, such as the Human Resources and General Discussion sections.

posted by carolr to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Response by poster: Sigh, missed the Sharepoint link.
posted by carolr at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2011

Health care technology is a pretty big deal, both in the US and abroad. I personally know people doing doctoral research on the subject.

What you want is a vendor. Here's one, though they may be a more full-service vendor that wouldn't be interested in smaller projects. Can't say.

For more suggestions, I'd recommend calling other physicians' offices in town and seeing how they do it.
posted by valkyryn at 12:11 PM on November 9, 2011

This is definitely a solved problem, and not one you want to try and do yourself with limited technical knowledge with confidential medical records. There are companies that do this exclusively, and you want one of them. I dont know who they are, but someone will.

On a related note, I own a DNS-323 as my personal NAS, and although it's great at serving up my media files, there is no way on earth I would want my medical records stored on it and opened up to the outside world; it's just a consumer-grade bottom-on-the-line network storage device.
posted by cgg at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2011

Note that in New Brunswick you will also need to be aware of the provincial Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act (PHIPAA) in addition to PIPEDA, which is federal. I used to work for a consulting firm that does privacy work for health information systems -- memail me if you'd like a referral, though I'm not sure they'd be the right fit for your problem.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:17 PM on November 9, 2011

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