This article covers how to connect to your MacPractice Server from a remote location. We'll cover the restrictions put in place to ensure that your Protected Health Information (PHI) is secure, and some of the options that are available to your office so you and your staff can work from home.
As you read this article, you'll want to have taken the recommended steps to ensure the security of your network and your MacPractice database. Please review the MacPractice recommendations on Security, Operating System configuration, and Firewall settings first before proceeding.
We'll describe a few solutions to different scenarios and you can determine the best course of action for your practice.
- I have a Mac at home that meets the requirements to run MacPractice client
- Sharing a screen using macOS functionality
- Connecting with a share-screen service
- I am a single provider office with only one computer
In this scenario, you can install MacPractice on your computer, and then you would need to connect to the Server. In order to do this, you would need a VPN.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, is a method that allows workers to connect remotely to a secured network.
By design, MacPractice requires that any computers connecting to the MacPractice Server must be on the same network. This restriction is in place due to the PHI stored on the MacPractice Server, and protects your office from the risk of online intrusion. However, with a properly configured VPN, you can use your computer at home and connect securely to your MacPractice Server's network, as the VPN creates a tunnel between your computer and the MacPractice network.
MacPractice Support cannot assist in choosing and configuring a VPN service for you, as there are many VPN services available with their own specializations. Selecting and configuring a VPN requires a Network or IT Professional to review your office's network and determine the right choice to fit your needs.
One note of importance when choosing a VPN service is that you will want to use a "site-to-site" VPN service, rather than a "remote access" VPN. A site-to-site allows you to connect to the office's network rather than through a third party's server.
Once you have configured a VPN for your network, your home Mac would simply connect to that VPN, then attempt to connect to the MacPractice Server much like you would with any new computer.
In this situation, you would still need a VPN as described in the previous option, but once you have set up and connected to a VPN, you could use the native macOS screen sharing features. This would require that you enable screen sharing on a MacPractice Client in the office you wish to access. Once established, you would simply work in that screen share as needed.
Apple Support has provided some articles that relate to this functionality which they can assist you with. Here is an article on how to turn Mac screen sharing on or off, while this article covers how to Share the screen of another Mac. We recommend reading both articles.
Please note that Apple Support can best assist you with macOS functionality.
There is also an App Store application called Apple Remote Desktop that is sold by Apple that is used to remotely manage Mac computers in a commercial or business environment. You can find Apple Remote Desktop here.
I don't have a Mac at home, but I have a PC
If you don't have a Mac at home, or your Mac isn't working well with the macOS screen share, a third option available is to utilize a screen-sharing service. This is in fact the method that MacPractice Support utilizes to provide support to your office. In this scenario, you would not require a VPN.
With this option, you don't need to have screen sharing enabled on your computer on the OS-level, you'll be using a third party software to establish a connection.
There are many services available that could fulfill this need. However, as you work with Protected Health Information (PHI), we strongly recommend that you choose one that is HIPAA compliant to cover your bases and protect your practice.
We'll list and link a few below that are HIPAA compliant. You'll need to research and choose one that meets your needs. MacPractice does not recommend or endorse any particular remote access solution.
You could also utilize a share screen with a VPN with a VNC software, but that topic lies outside the scope of this article.
The simplest solution in this situation would be to take your MacPractice Server home with you to work from there. If this option isn't desirable, then you could still make arrangements to use a screen sharing service as described in the prior section.
In this situation, if you have any web services such as your Patient Portal, a change in location will likely change your IP address, so you would need to contact MacPractice Support to supply them with the new IP address of your Server, so we can make the necessary changes. Any other web services you may be hosting from that Server would also need to be addressed.