Community Health Center Information Systems Assessment: Issues and Opportunities. Final Report. 3.3.1 Ochin is Infrastructure Characteristics: the ASP Model

10/30/2005

As described in the introduction, OCHIN currently delivers the Epic practice management software and related services to its IPM partners via the application service provider or “ASP” model. Under this model one central vendor, OCHIN in this case, maintains and hosts all of the hardware and software necessary to support a complex application, such as the Epic Practice management system.  Users, such as consolidated health centers, access the software using a web browser on the user’s desktop or another user-friendly “thin client” application2. The application that OCHIN’s IPM partners use to access the Epic software is a Citrix thin client. IPM partners access the application over T1 lines that allow for high-speed network connection.  Through the thin client application, users at consolidated health centers can enter data relevant for each encounter to their health center and generate/access reports, bills and schedules based on data previously entered.
The use of thin clients in the ASP model minimizes technical support and maintenance requirements at the health centers themselves. The multiple high-speed connections to and from the host (i.e., the OCHIN data center) create a Wide Area Network (WAN) that gives consolidated health centers ready access to the Epic practice management application and provides for efficient transfer of data from a desktop at the health center to the central location where it is securely stored and maintained. The health center can then access the same data in the form of reports or other materials. We note that the centralization offered by the ASP model provides important benefits in the case of OCHIN. For example, it facilitates for collaboration across consolidated health centers and access to resources that a single health center would not be able to amass on its own.  However, there are some downsides to the ASP model particularly in situations where each user site has substantially different needs or inadequate connectivity. We provide more detail on opportunities and challenges posed by the ASP model later in this report.

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