Guide to Printing in an Epic Environment

***Originally published on November 1, 2016***

Hospitals and healthcare organizations around the world rely on the Epic software suite for managing their electronic health records (EHR) and other information vital to staff operations and patient care. These systems are obviously vital for keeping hospitals, clinics, and doctor offices running smoothly. And though Epic has advantages from an EHR point of view, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with the infrastructure. 

Epic print servers (EPSs) are notorious for poor print management. In fact, many organizations experience Epic printing issues on a daily basis as a direct result of having to deploy and operate one or more EPSs. It’s even common for them to hire trained professionals with a specialization in Epic healthcare printing. Their job? To maintain some semblance of control over their Epic print servers.

The Challenges of Epic Printing

Why is Epic healthcare printing so difficult to manage? It’s because the highly distributed Epic printing software leverages the basic print spooler functionality of the operating system. This brings some uniformity to a heterogeneous and shifting environment. Yet, these spoolers are unable to communicate with printers directly, don’t allow for print job auditing, and have very limited functionality.

Epic print servers deal with the heavy lifting but undergo a lot of stress. With so many print streams running between so many servers and workstations (often running different operating systems), mistakes are bound to happen. You can imagine how it’s not uncommon for an Epic print server to hang or crash.

Quick and patchwork Epic printing solutions are out there. But they usually address this problem by placing restrictions on the print environment. It’s like driving a car so delicate that it can’t make left-hand turns or go above 30 mph.

Because of this, any quick fix for Epic printing faces the following issues:

Limited (or zero) print auditing

Tracking print jobs, confirming print output, and viewing aggregate printer usage are as beneficial to establishing an audit trail as they are to budgeting. Yet these abilities are lacking in the native Epic printing software.

Lack of security

With safeguards to patient confidentiality now enshrined in law, printing security on both the front-end and back-end is crucial. Unfortunately, Epic healthcare printing does not provide close administrative oversight or features like pull printing.

Many points of failure

Because print queues are scattered between multiple hosts and Epic print servers require multiple instances for the sake of redundancy, the chances for software and human error are much higher.

Solutions for Epic Printing

For many, the simplest way to address problems is with third-party Epic printing solutions. These solutions attempt to compensate for the shortcomings of the native Epic printing software. This can include introducing improved print management, increased visibility into the print environment, and greater resiliency.

PrinterLogic is the one Epic printing solution that is incredibly easy to deploy. Our native integration works seamlessly with the Epic software suite to deliver consistent, reliable, and robust printing in Epic environments as well as front office printing. That means no more dual systems to manage.

Through our simple but feature-rich Admin Console, PrinterLogic enables you to manage all the printers and drivers your organization needs. Finally, you’ll be able to manage Epic healthcare printing just like all other printing—from a single pane of glass. This centralized management paired with the proven stability of direct IP printing will dramatically improve the management and visibility of your print environment.