How do I connect to my EMR server from other computers?
UniCharts EMR is built on the web server technology. As such, it needs to be installed on just one computer within the medical facility and there is no specific hardware or software requirement for the computer hosting the EMR program. Furthermore, all users of the electronic medical records connect to it using their Internet Explorer browsers. No installation of any kind is required on client computers except Internet Explorer browsers that are already installed on windows based machines. Now there are three possible workflow scenarios when connecting through a browser:
In the first scenario listed above, you just need to visit User menu on the EMR server and click User Login option. This would automatically open a new browser window, insert the needed URL in the address bar and fetch the login page. And this would work even if the computer is not on a network. Therefore if you would be using the EMR alone and from the very computer it is installed on, then there is no need to read further below.
- The user wants to connect from the same computer on which the EMR is installed.
- The user wants to connect from another computer over the local network.
- The user want to connect from a remote computer over the Internet.
However, the second and third scenario listed above involves the use of EMR from other computers over the network. In this case the standard practice is to install the EMR server on a central computer to which all other computers are connected through a network, wired or wireless. The central computer can be any computer over your local network as long as the network configuration allows establishing connection to it. The required configuration depends on the type of network that you may have. Windows-based PCs can operate either as part of a peer-to-peer network or as part of a Windows domain. Then your EMR may be running on the computer that is gateway to the Internet or it may be running on another machine over the local network. Similarly, your network may be exposed to the internet directly or it may be through a router. We generally recommend our users to avail services of an experienced local network support personnel for optimal configuration of their network.
The router based networks are in common use today. If you have such a network and you do want to try configuring it yourself, you may follow the steps outlined below.
Accessing the EMR from other computers inside your local network.
If your router is a good one, you should be able to access the EMR on your server computer from other computers on your local network just by its computer name. If, for instance, the name of server computer is set to "myemr" and router/wifi hub is smart enough to automatically provide DNS (Domain Name Service) for it, users on other computer should be able to access the EMR by opening a new browser window and typing http://myemr:portnumber/
into the address bar. The login URL comprising of the computer's name is always available at the bottom pane of the EMR server program. Please note that the URL displayed at the bottom pane may or may not contain the port number part of the URL string. If EMR is running on port 80 then it is not necessary to append it to the URL as it is the standard port used by the browsers. If it is running on a port other than 80, then you must append the port number to connect. Also, the port number on which EMR runs depends upon the availability of ports on the host computer. All network applications (examples: Skype, IIS webserver, online video games etc) love and compete for port 80 and, as such, it may not always be available to the EMR server. If needed, you may try to change the port number by visiting Network/Security
tab on the EMR server.
If your computer name is not easy to remember or type, you can change it by going to Start -> right-click "My Computer" -> Properties -> Computer Name
and clicking the Change
If it does not work from other computers but you can access http://myemr:portnumber/
on the same computer that is running the EMR server, then you probably have not adjusted your firewall. The firewall software (such as Windows XP Personal Firewall) on the server computer must be set to allow incoming connections to the EMR program from other computers on the network. Otherwise, it will stop incoming connections. A separate article explains how to configure the firewall software
on the computer. If you are sure that the firewall is configured correctly, then it is possible that your router does not support DNS. You can work around that by connecting to your server by its local IP address instead of by name. You can find out your server computer's IP address by visiting Network/Security
tab on the EMR server. Once you are able to locate the IP address, you should be able to connect from other computers using http://localipaddress:portnumber/
in the browser address bar. Please note that if you are using dynamic IP addresses on your local network (DHCP), the address may change every time you reboot the computer. In this case, you may want to assign a static local IP address to your server computer. A separate article explains how to assign local static IP address
to a computer.
Accessing the EMR from other computers outside your local network.
- Assign a static local IP address to the computer on which EMR server is running:
If your local network is based on dynamic local IP addresses (DHCP), you first need to get a static local IP address for the computer on which EMR server is running. In a DHCP setup, every computer receives a new local IP address on the local network every time it is powered on. This is not what we would like for the computer hosting our EMR server - it must have an unchanging address so that connections could be forwarded to it. A separate article explains how to assign local static IP address to a computer.
Note: static local IP address is not the same thing as a static Internet IP address. An ISP gives you a static Internet IP address and we are not talking about it here. We are talking about the static local IP address that you yourself may assign to a computer that exists behind the router within your local network - so that we can tell the router which local IP address to forward EMR traffic to.
- Configure your router to forward EMR related traffic to the computer on which EMR server is running:
Now that you have chosen a static local IP for the computer on which EMR server is installed, you are ready to configure the router to forward EMR traffic to this host computer. A router is a device that essentially connects your local computers and also allows them to share a single "real" IP address on the Internet. As every incoming or outgoing request passes through the router, we must tell the router what to do with EMR traffic and where to forward it. A separate article explains how to configure the router to forward connections to a particular computer.
- Configure the Firewall software on the computer EMR server is running to allow network communication:
Finally, you may need to configure the Firewall software on the host computer to allow the EMR server to communicate over the network. A separate article explains how to configure the firewall software on the host computer. Note that we have already configured the router's firewall in the process of setting up the port forwarding. A Router has built-in firewall that protects you by preventing unauthorized incoming connections. By configuring the router to allow and forward incoming traffic for a certain port number to the computer hosting the EMR server, we have indirectly done the needed firewall configuration on the router.
Did we do it right? To be sure, first access the EMR using the static Internet IP address from a computer that is not on your local network. The format of the URL would be http://staticIPaddressProvidedByYourISP:portNumber. If your router supports loopback processing, you may try accessing the EMR using the Internet IP from any of your local computers. With loopback processing, a client on the LAN side of the router requesting a service on the WAN IP is forwarded to the target computer using the router's port forwarding rules, bypassing the Internet. However, most "consumer" grade routers do not support loopback or handle it properly and may show you the router's configuration interface instead. If this is the case with your router, you may ask a friend or colleague to access the EMR from a remote location. If the login page comes up on their browser, this would mean that this part is working as it should. Finally, access the EMR from any of your local computers by putting the server computer's name and/or static local IP address in the browser's address bar. This should work even if your router does not support loopback connections. If again the login page comes up, this would mean that configuration has been successful and everything is working correctly.
If it works.... great! If not, you probably made a mistake in port forwarding, firewall configuration or local static IP configuration. In this case, we recommend availing services of a local network support. They should be able to configure your network and streamline everything within minutes.