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Managed IT Services: The One Prescription for all Healthcare IT Ailments

Judi Grassi

If your healthcare organization (HCO) is having difficulties today managing your current IT systems, your life will not be getting any easier in 2019 and beyond. Why? With initiatives such as digitized health records and telehealth, the delivery of care has become more complicated and dependent on IT. So, with each passing day, your IT systems will need to evolve and will become more complex as well.

Technology Advancements

All HCOs have different charters but in general it’s safe to say that your business objective is to meet the healthcare needs of your target population and deliver measurable, cost-effective, compassionate, high-quality care.

To meet this objective, your HCO must embrace new technologies – which are advancing faster than ever. Over 2019 and the following years, your organization will be focused on many new IT initiatives: improving the patient experience, more digitization, the use of AI and data visualization, population health, and EHR optimization and interoperability to mention just a few.

Whether you’re an IT expert and intuitively understand the ramifications of these initiatives or not, they sound daunting – and they are! And…every initiative requires access to specialized IT talent, whether in-house or outsourced.

Security and Compliance

To make matters even more challenging, system security and compliance will also become more complicated as your IT systems evolve. According to Healthcare IT News, HCOs are increasingly being targeted by cyber-criminals using ransomware and phishing emails and finding backdoors in cloud misconfigurations and networks. In fact, one recent study revealed that 73 percent of companies across all industries have critical AWS cloud security misconfigurations and more than 70 million records were stolen or leaked in 2018 due to poorly configured Amazon S3 cloud storage buckets.

You also may be surprised to learn that a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute reported that across all industries, the

“…highest data breach resolution costs are for healthcare data breaches, which typically cost an average of $408 per record.” [1]

This cost is almost twice as high as financial services data breaches, which came in second.

Whether your HCO has a Local Area Network (LAN) with a few PCs or you have a data center, ensuring the best security and compliance is critical.

Patient Care

Your IT systems are the building blocks of your organization and you can’t meet your mission without investing in and continuously optimizing their use.

For example, a mere five years ago, your IT systems primarily managed your administrative functions - email communications, patient scheduling, invoice and payment processing. You also automated most accounting functions.

Today - with EHR - your IT systems are “front and center” when it comes to delivering care. Without access to an electronic patient record, your clinicians cannot treat their patients effectively. For most HCOs, patient information is automated and if a system goes down, it will impact the quality of the patient experience and your ability to deliver quality and timely patient care.

How Can Managed Services Help Your HCO?

Successful HCOs must focus on care delivery and treating their patients and cannot be distracted by the complications that come with their IT systems, especially as technology advances. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose to outsource all your IT management functions or augment your in-house IT support. Here are some reasons why HCOs choose IT managed services:

  • Small hospitals cannot afford to staff an IT team that is available 7x24x365 to maintain systems and provide user support.
  • Your organization may require diversified IT talent: for example, a Microsoft expert or security expert.
  • If you are a clinic or group practice, your IT team is limited: an IT staff of one provides no redundancy.
  • You may be a larger HCO that has an IT team, but you want to free them up to focus on your strategic initiatives.

The best Managed Service Providers (MSPs) provide access to instant world-class IT support and allow these organizations to:

  • Focus on their core competency – their patients – and let the MSP worry about their IT systems
  • Reduce security risks, protect Protected Health Information (PHI), and ensure their systems are compliant with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA
  • Keep systems patched and protected from malware and ransomware attacks
  • Minimize downtime by keeping their systems healthy and resolving issues quickly when they surface

Put simply, you will sleep better at night when you engage a managed service provider because you can lower IT costs, improve system and data security, ensure regulatory compliance, improve administrative and clinical staff productivity, easily scale your IT infrastructure as business needs dictate, and ensure you deliver the best possible patient care with timely and consistent access to electronic health records.

Managed services is the one prescription for all IT ailments.

 

[1] https://www.hipaajournal.com/healthcare-data-breach-costs-highest-of-any-industry-at-408-per-record/