HIPAA Compliance Basics

HIPAA IT Compliance

HIPAA Compliance Basics – IT HIPAA Compliance

If you are an organization subject to HIPAA, you need to understand and comply with all relevant requirements. Learn more about how this law applies to your company.  

HIPAA IT Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 set standards for all organizations that handle protected health information. In the past, HIPAA standards for privacy and security mainly applied to the management of paper health records and verbal exchanges of patient health information. In today’s modern world, however, the majority of protected health information is in a digital format, and these standards must be applied differently.

HIPAA Basics

HIPAA sets guidelines organizations must follow when they collect and store private health information. The law provides patients with certain rights to access their own health information, as well as confidentiality protections. HIPAA also outlines the steps an organization must follow when private health information has been compromised.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act

To ensure that all organizations subject to HIPAA are in compliance in the digital age, the government passed an additional law: the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Essentially, this new law raises the penalties that apply when a health organization violates any of HIPAA’s standards for privacy and security of protected health information.

How to Protect Your Data

In light of the many restrictive standards that apply to protected health information, it is essential for every organization that handles this information to take the matter seriously. Below are some tips to help you protect your data from vulnerability.

1. Invest in security software.

The right security software can help to maintain the safety of your data from hackers. Invest in advanced security software and update it as needed.

2. Train personnel.

Every employee who handles protected health information needs to understand the importance of complying with HIPAA laws. Take the time to train employees on the best practices for handling sensitive data, as well as the consequences for HIPAA violations.

3. Partner with the right professionals.

One of the best ways to keep your data safe is to partner with a reputable IT company that can design security measures to keep your network secure. The right company will also be able to help you take action quickly when a breach occurs.

4. Stay in the know.

Regulations are subject to change, and threats to your data are always evolving. Stay informed about all recent changes so you can keep your organization protected.
Keeping protected health information secure is not only ethical, but it is required by law. If you are an organization subject to HIPAA, compliance needs to be a priority at all times.

Document Management, Confidentiality Compliance, and HIPAA Adherence

Healthcare IT Services

HIPAA is an everyday stressor in the healthcare industry. A computer-based recordkeeping system can help keep records secure and HIPAA compliant.  

Healthcare IT Services

For many in the health care industry, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an everyday stressor that dictates the actions and availability of information. However, HIPAA is necessary to protect the patients’ information and medical records. A violation of HIPAA could lead to lawsuits and large fees, which could cause a business or practice to close their doors.

The Challenge of Human Error

Unfortunately, even the perfect system is prone to human error, especially if you do not have integrated checks and balances that are part of a computer document management software.

Many facilities that are larger in size have already integrated their records into a computer-based record-keeping system. This type of software is especially helpful for the large volume of records that they keep on a daily basis. However, smaller healthcare facilities may want to consider a customized computer-based record-keeping system to stay HIPAA compliant.

Typically, most HIPAA violations happen without employees’ knowledge, or they are due to simple inexperience. Some of the most common HIPAA violations include:

  • Accessing records for any reason other than to aid in treatment or payment
  • Not using a secure encryption method for protecting health records
  • Removing patient information from the facility, either physically or on an unauthorized device
  • Sharing patient information via a personal email
  • No control or lack of control of who accesses patient health information
  • Not removing access of former employees

Digital Solution for Record Keeping

Physical paper documents have a higher chance of being compromised because their very nature requires that you physically secure them. Within HIPAA, health facilities not only have to worry about who has access to patient information but for what reason.

While some electronic solutions can help healthcare facilities step away from paper options, such as a common or shared network drives, these do not provide the security needed to remain HIPAA compliant. HIPAA requires that digital solutions for handling patients’ personal information have almost cutting-edge security tools. Due to the private nature of patients’ information within the system, health facilities’ data is considered a prime target for hackers looking for targets with blackmail or ransomware.

Benefits of Moving to Digital Record-Keeping

Even for small health care facilities, there is a digital document management system that could fit the needs of the business while still being HIPAA compliant. Some of the benefits of digital record keeping are:

  • Tracking for Audit Purposes – A digital document management system can record everything that happens to a file. The record could include which user has accessed the file, when the file was accessed, if anything has changed since the last time it was accessed, and historical copies of the file.
  • Control Over File Permissions – The records system administrators can control who has permission to view a file and the features they are available to use once they have access.
  • Unique Security Options – Administrators can dictate which users have access to patient information. As an example, administrators can add a two-step authentication method to access sensitive patient information.

Privacy and HIPAA compliance can be challenging, but adding the right document management tools can help with the stress and pressure of protecting patients’ information.

NIST Releases Guidance Solutions for PACS Ecosystem

Healthcare Tech Security

Given how medical providers struggle with ensuring their data is safe, something had to be done to offer guidance. Read this blog about a new cybersecurity plan.  

Healthcare Tech Security

The picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is an ecosystem that stores images that are gathered from medical imaging technology. This ecosystem offers a convenient platform where medical providers can store and access these vital images. However, this ecosystem is vulnerable to cyberattacks.

In order to provide protection for this confidential data, the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence recently released proposed guidance to assist healthcare delivery organizations with securing their picture archiving and communication systems. In addition, they also released a project aimed at providing an example solution for building stronger security controls.

The guidance material called, Securing Picture Archiving and Communication System, includes aspects that help health organizations design an approach, architecture, and security elements for the PACS ecosystem, including easy-to-follow how-to guidance.

The Evolution of Digital Capabilities

As image-making technologies have taken a gigantic leap over the last decade, now confidential data and vital imaging are uploaded in a digital format by providers across the globe. This adds a huge level of convenience and gives providers the ability to easily store and share this content. The systems that house these images and data are typically stored in image-intensive areas like the radiology department and are also uploaded to each patient’s electronic health record (EHR).

But as this process adds easier accessibility and organization in a digital format, including limiting the time to takes for doctors to make a diagnosis, the technology has also opened the door to more cyber threats. And many medical providers struggle with auditing user accounts and monitoring them properly to suspect any abnormal behavior. Medical providers also struggle with ensuring that data moves safely across the network and also with monitoring access by its users, which can lead to a drop in system performance.

Goals of the Project

With the project set forth by the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, their goals include the following:

  • Identify who uses the PACS systems
  • Determine the process between the user and system
  • Perform a risk assessment
  • Identify appropriate mitigating security tools
  • Design an example solution

The ultimate goal here is to assist provider organizations with reducing the chance of a cyber breach or substantial data loss, while also minimizing any disruptions with their systems. This also puts emphasis on enabling quick access to imaging and important data without this confidential data becoming vulnerable to an attack, which also offers peace of mind for patient privacy.

Broad Capabilities Equals Broad Threat Landscape

So what makes these systems so vulnerable? This occurs from the broad capabilities of this technology. The PACS connectivity of the ecosystem works with a variety of different technologies that include medical imaging devices and other systems that help to manage and maintain archives of medical images. The role of PACS is to interact with medical imaging devices, connect with other clinical systems, and allow users from multiple locations to review images that lead to faster and higher quality patient care.

With such a broad spectrum of capabilities involved with the PACS ecosystem, the means a broad landscape for threat.

Fitbit Amplifies Healthcare by Offering Fitness and Coaching Platform

Fitbit Healthcare

Fitbit, a leader in health and technology, has recently introduced a new digital product to help individuals reach their goals faster with a more manageable approach.

Fitbit Healthcare

Fitbit Care is a combination of the company’s popular fitness tracking devices with a new health coaching platform that addresses everything from wellness and prevention to chronic conditions and complex care management. Designed to promote wellness and improve disease management and prevention with tailored health and wellness services for a more personalized application. This exciting new enterprise attained through the acquisition of Twine Health, a small Boston-based software startup, will continue to support the fitness tracking Fitbit is known for while also addressing services like medication adherence, smoking cessation and managing chronic conditions.

Fitbit Care will be offered via the company’s business-to-business unit, Fitbit Health Solutions. Following in the footsteps of Apple and Amazon as they move into the healthcare system the health coaching platform was designed for integration into organizations with healthcare professionals on staff or businesses that include health plans, workforce health providers, and health systems. The Fitbit Care approach focuses on key tenets of behavioral psychology and learning science as the core principles of the application. By putting people at the center of their own health journey it offers personalized care with more sustainable behavior changes with offers better long-term results. at the core of the experience. Users enrolled in the care plans also have access to health coaches, who will offer personalized fitness and exercise plans along with other wellness advice. The coaching sessions are offered through remote communication and face-to-face meetings. Individuals who are enrolled in the health coaching component of Fitbit will have access to the new Fitbit Plus app, which allows users to track metrics including blood glucose, blood pressure, and medication adherence, both from Fitbit and other third-party connected devices. The social component of connecting through groups also encourages healthy behavior as users keep each other accountable, motivated and encouraged as they exercise together in social groups. This enables an entire team to participate in the health coaching experience.

According to the Fitbit Care website clients have seen dramatic increases in coach panel size, often upwards of 300% in some cases. The main goal is for users to have the ability to connect with their doctors through the Fitbit Care platform. This new premium fitness coaching feature will allow doctors to have the ability to check on a user’s daily metrics and stay up-to-date on the effectiveness of the treatment for specific issues. Essentially, Fitbit wants to be the one place everyone connects over health and supporting patients beyond the walls of the doctor’s office is a big step in this direction by providing accountability, support, guidance and resources that remove some of the most difficult barriers in healthcare outcomes.

Key Ways to Handle End of Windows 7 for Healthcare Organizations

Healthcare Windows 7

Top Ways to Handle the End of Windows 7 in the Healthcare Industry

Microsoft will end its support for Windows 7 soon. Learn how this will affect your healthcare organization and what you can do to prevent security problems.  

Healthcare Windows 7

Between the years 2009 and 2018, 189,945,874 healthcare records were either stolen or exposed because of cybersecurity breaches.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. In fact, “it equates to more than 59% of the population of the United States,” according to HIPAA Journal. Obviously, among healthcare organizations, cybersecurity has become a serious concern.

And it’s about to get worse.

In only a few months, the operating system that nearly all healthcare organizations in the United States utilize — Windows 7 — will lose support from its manufacturer, Microsoft.

Microsoft calls this the “end-of-life” for Windows 7, and it’s going to happen on January 14, 2020. The change will affect all businesses and individuals who are currently operating the Windows 7 OS, but healthcare organizations are especially at risk. That’s because this loss of support also means that the majority of Windows 7 medical devices will be running an outdated and unprotected version of Windows.

Fortunately, healthcare organizations can make changes now to avoid serious operating system and security problems in January of 2020 We’ll discuss how to transition to Windows 10 (the most up-to-date Microsoft operating system) in a moment. For now, let’s discuss what it really means that Windows 7 is losing support from Microsoft.

What Do “End-of-Life” and “Loss of Support” Really Mean?

“End-of-life” is the term Microsoft specifically uses to define the period when they will no longer provide software support for a specific application or piece of software. It’s the same as “loss of support.”

Both terms mean that “Microsoft will no longer provide the following:

  • Technical support for any issues
  • Software updates
  • Security updates or fixes”

Why Would Continuing to Use Windows 7 Be Bad?

Most of the precautions surrounding Windows 7’s end-of-life revolve around cybersecurity.

Though you may not have realized it, for the past ten years, Microsoft has been constantly working on the security, efficiency, and fluidity of its Windows 7 operating system. The Microsoft team constantly provides updates and upgrades for Windows 7 users. Moreover, it monitors and troubleshoots possible cybersecurity issues, catching issues and breaches before they start.

Often, these patches and updates are keeping you and your healthcare organization from being breached by cybercriminals who would love to steal your money or get their hands on your data and hold it for ransom.

When Microsoft ends their support, this dam they’ve been maintaining goes away, and the influx of cybersecurity troubles may very well be at your doorstep as soon as the first day of the end of support.

How Can You Maintain Security Within your Healthcare Organization as the End-of-Life Day for Windows 7 Nears?

If your healthcare organization is still using Windows 7, you’re safe for now. But it’s time to start the transition to Windows 10 — Microsoft’s latest OS. You’ll want to start this shift as soon as possible as the change can instigate a sizable change in pace for your business and a considerable amount of expenses as well.

A good place to start is with your managed services provider. The designated IT specialists within your healthcare establishment will be able to help you transition smoothly and seamlessly from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Your Healthcare Business Is HIPAA Compliant—Is That Enough for True Security?

Healthcare computers

Is HIPAA Compliance Enough for Absolute Security?

HIPAA is designed to help healthcare organizations keep patient information secure, but is it enough? Find out where HIPAA could be lacking and what needs to be done for absolute protection.  

Healthcare computers

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is in place specifically to protect sensitive information in the healthcare operation. With a complex and diverse listing of standards regarding how information can be handled, how systems should function, and how things should be done within an organization, HIPAA does do a lot to protect patient information. While most organizations stick closely to these standards, there is no real way to certify you are actually compliant.

Sadly, the inability to check compliance and the lacking aspects of HIPAA compliance can lead to a cyber-attack or major data breach. Healthcare cyber-attacks cost as much as $1.4 million in recovery, so making sure compliance is where it needs to be and considering whether more needs to be done is important.

Reasons Why HIPAA Compliance Alone May Not Be Enough

Even though HIPAA policies and standards are generated to protect private and sensitive information in the healthcare industry, the truth of the matter is, HIPAA alone does not address every security concern. It is unfortunately not uncommon for a healthcare industry manager to foolheartedly put all of their faith in HIPAA compliance and completely miss that certain security defenses are missing.

In the most basic terms, HIPAA standards are designed to provide the most basic security setup in the healthcare industry. There is nothing stating that following these minimum standards will protect your healthcare business from every single threat there is where information security is concerned. Furthermore, cybersecurity threats evolve and develop so quickly that HIPAA doesn’t catch up fast enough to make much of a difference. Pair this with the fact that many healthcare organizations already struggle to keep up with newly developing security concerns associated with cloud data storage and the Internet of Things (IoT), and you have a lot of looming risk to speak of.

Rely On More Than Just HIPAA Compliance and Amp Up Security Efforts

Of course, HIPAA compliance is important, but it never hurts to up the efforts to make sure every aspect of the digital operation is secure and safe. There are multiple areas where security must be address in a healthcare organization’s digital infrastructure according to Health IT Outcomes, including:

  • Controlling access to the system in a way that yields sensitive information only to those who would need to see it within the company
  • Maintaining a stable protocol that dictates how risks are identified and handled on a daily basis
  • Having an excellent security plan in place that acts as a go-to guideline for proper security practices
  • Maintaining assets in a way that carefully documents the existing location of all assets, data, and other components of a system
  • Implementing an information security incident management plan
  • Controlling the physical hardware and keeping it secure at all times
  • Organizing security plans that work for all aspects of the organization

Naturally, handling HIPAA compliance is also part of what is necessary, but as you can see by this detailed list, it is only one part of ensuring network security. It is not the only process to be considered for absolute security.

Final Thoughts On HIPAA Compliance and True Security

Even though HIPAA sets forth decent standards, the process of applying these standards to put them to work within a healthcare operation can vary considerably. Furthermore, some HIPAA compliance standards only cover the basic necessities of having a secure system. Unfortunately, these two facts can leave a healthcare facility with digital security concerns they have no idea exist. It is always a better idea to take things further than even HIPAA recommends to secure the system properly with the help of an IT managed services company and make sure all aspects are covered.

An Examination of Blockchain Technology Features and Limitations in Healthcare

Blockchain Healthcare

Blockchain Technology: Features and Limitations in Healthcare

Blockchain technology is meant to create a more streamlined data handling process for all of healthcare. Find out the blockchain advantages and limitations.  

Blockchain Healthcare

More and more in the modern-day, business data is being examined as something that could benefit from the implementation of blockchain technology. Medical data interoperation between all care providers is considered to be like the holy grail of medical care. No barriers would exist between doctor’s offices, hospitals, or even pharmacists no matter where in the world they were located. Here is a bit about what you should know about blockchain technology in healthcare as a healthcare business owner.

Blockchain Features That Can Benefit Healthcare

There is good reason why companies like Medicalchain are getting in on blockchain technology. Blockchain technology brings with it a full list of advantages that are easy to assume and understand. Here is a shortlist of some of the most apparent blockchain technology advantages.

Blockchain Provides a Distributed Ledger of Patient Care

First and foremost, blockchain technology allows for a full ledger of patient care. If a patient goes to a hospital in one country while they are visiting, for example, their information would be completely accessible by their care provider. When that patient leaves a care provider, it would be completely possible for them to already have a followup appointment scheduled for when they get back home where their primary care physician is located.

Blockchain Data Is Stored In a Secure Way

Security is a huge concern in healthcare, and the nature of blockchain data makes it secure already. Therefore, companies that are implementing blockchain technology gain the advantage of those already-secure processes that keeps the patient’s data protected in the right way. Companies that struggle to comply with HIPPA regulations may see that things are not so difficult to achieve with blockchain technology in place even.

Blockchain Can Give Patients More Control Over Their Own Records

With blockchain, patients could potentially create their own rules around how their particular records are handled and shared, which is something that is limited in current healthcare data handling. For example, a patient could choose to make their current list of medications accessible to every provider so they never have to carry along their own list of medications to share or so every provider would already know what they are taking.

Blockchain Limitations That Can Be Problematic in Healthcare

So far, the real limitations of blockchain technology are lacking when you consider the advantages. According to Macadamian, there is one big limitation that has to be considered in blockchain technology where healthcare is concerned:

“Blockchain technology on its own is not sufficient to create a complete electronic healthcare record (EHR) solution.”

The primary limitation or concern comes in with pairing certain forms of cryptocurrency blockchain with healthcare operations. Cryptocurrency blockchains have this anonymity that is naturally attached because the actual name of a payer or payee never has to be revealed. For example, someone using something like Bitcoin never has to reveal their true identity during a transaction. Naturally, healthcare blockchains could not exist so anonymously; a patient’s identity would have to be revealed at some point in transactions and during the transmission of patient data to other providers. Therefore, there is a bit of a conflict there that exists between how blockchain technology is meant to function and how it would have to function in healthcare environments.

Final Thoughts On Blockchain Technology in Healthcare

Blockchain technology is consistently evolving and stepping its way into a lot of everyday processes. The technology could potentially revolutionize many processes of healthcare, and the ongoing implementation is proving that fact. There are some companies that are already experimenting with blockchain technology in the medical care environment, but the numbers of companies doing so are bound to grow in the coming years. The final thought is this: blockchain technology could very well make drastic improvements in healthcare. Therefore, it is well worth it to talk to a managed IT services provider to find out how blockchain technology could be used in your healthcare business.

Your Healthcare Organization Is HIPPA Compliant—Is That Enough for True Security?

healthcare technology

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is in place specifically to protect sensitive information in the healthcare operation. With a complex and diverse listing of standards regarding how information can be handled, how systems should function, and how things should be done within an organization, HIPPA does do a lot to protect patient information. While most organizations stick closely to these standards, there is no real way to certify you are actually compliant.

healthcare technology

Sadly, the inability to check compliance and the lacking aspects of HIPPA compliance can lead to a cyber-attack or major data breach. Healthcare cyber-attacks cost as much as $1.4 million in recovery, so making sure compliance is where it needs to be and considering whether more needs to be done is important.

Reasons Why HIPPA Compliance Alone May Not Be Enough

Even though HIPPA policies and standards are generated to protect private and sensitive information in the healthcare industry, the truth of the matter is, HIPPA alone does not address every security concern. It is unfortunately not uncommon for a healthcare industry manager to foolheartedly put all of their faith in HIPPA compliance and completely miss that certain security defenses are missing.

In the most basic terms, HIPPA standards are designed to provide the most basic security setup in the healthcare industry. There is nothing stating that following these minimum standards will protect your healthcare business from every single threat there is where information security is concerned. Furthermore, cybersecurity threats evolve and develop so quickly that HIPPA doesn’t catch up fast enough to make much of a difference. Pair this with the fact that many healthcare organizations already struggle to keep up with newly developing security concerns associated with cloud data storage and the Internet of Things (IoT), and you have a lot of looming risk to speak of.

Rely On More Than Just HIPPA Compliance and Amp Up Security Efforts

Of course, HIPPA compliance is important, but it never hurts to up the efforts to make sure every aspect of the digital operation is secure and safe. There are multiple areas where security must be address in a healthcare organization’s digital infrastructure according to Health IT Outcomes, including:

  • Controlling access to the system in a way that yields sensitive information only to those who would need to see it within the company
  • Maintaining a stable protocol that dictates how risks are identified and handled on a daily basis
  • Having an excellent security plan in place that acts as a go-to guideline for proper security practices
  • Maintaining assets in a way that carefully documents the existing location of all assets, data, and other components of a system
  • Implementing an information security incident management plan
  • Controlling the physical hardware and keeping it secure at all times
  • Organizing security plans that work for all aspects of the organization

Naturally, handling HIPPA compliance is also part of what is necessary, but as you can see by this detailed list, it is only one part of ensuring network security. It is not the only process to be considered for absolute security.

Final Thoughts On HIPAA Compliance and True Security

Even though HIPPA sets forth decent standards, the process of applying these standards to put them to work within a healthcare operation can vary considerably. Furthermore, some HIPPA compliance standards only cover the basic necessities of having a secure system. Unfortunately, these two facts can leave a healthcare facility with digital security concerns they have no idea exist. It is always a better idea to take things further than even HIPPA recommends to secure the system properly with the help of an IT managed services company and make sure all aspects are covered.

What You Need to Know About Moving Your Health IT System to the Cloud?

Healthcare Cloud

Are You Ready for the Cloud?

With a clear, comprehensive implementation plan, you can minimize downtime and disruptions while you move your data and applications to the cloud.  

Healthcare Cloud

Let’s walk through the 5 W’s + How.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

No, this isn’t an intro to journalism course. Instead, we’ll use this formula to break down your options for finding the best IT outsourcing firm to help you move your health care practice to the cloud.

What Should You Be Looking For?

Clouds are private, public or a hybrid of the two. These labels can be confusing. Public clouds aren’t open to the public and private ones serve as remote data centers for a single health care provider.

To decide the best cloud for your organization, determine what you’re actually looking for. Choose from a service that supplies platform, infrastructure or software as a service — PaaS, IaaS or SaaS. Relevant considerations include company size, HIPAA impact and what you wish to accomplish.

Who Is the Best Cloud Provider?

Healthcare IT News identifies seven top providers:

  • Amazon Web Services, who developed these services first, has aggressive pricing and releases new features regularly. Their main service is IaaS.
  • CDW Cloud Solutions, familiar to many healthcare organization, offers a variety of services, such as migration planning and project support.
  • IBM Cloud, ClearDATA, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and VMWare receive honorable mention.

It’s best to look into several services to determine the best one for your IT needs.

When Is it Time to Switch to the Cloud?

Most companies have some kind of cloud-based functionality already. For those still deciding whether to switch, the following questions can help clarify your thoughts.

  • Who can help us with the migration plan?
  • Is the management team stable?
  • What’s the strategy driving the move?
  • Are local providers reliable?
  • Is it in the budget?
  • Will we net a positive return on our investment?

These questions get right to the heart of the matter and help you find out if your team is ready, able and willing to make the switch.

Where Should the Data Centers Be Located?

The physical location doesn’t matter that much. It’s more important to replicate data and applications in distinct regions for redundancy and to ensure access to your data. Where you locate or have your IT consultants locate your backups is determined by the technology and configurations that work best with your systems. In fact, if you’re paying for around-the-clock monitoring, location becomes irrelevant.

Why Are You Thinking About Moving to the Cloud?

This question is a bit outmoded. A better question would be, “Why wouldn’t you move to the cloud?” That’s a question most companies have or are asking themselves right now. Cloud systems scale easily and they’re cheaper than the cost of maintaining your own local data centers. In the cloud, critical processes, such as data replication or disaster recovery are more straightforward.

Cloud services also offer a pay-as-you-go model that fits the budget of more practices and startups. While data security used to be considered a risk on the cloud, new technology has helped ensure the security of your systems and client data.

How Can You Get There?

Vet out an experienced healthcare IT provider that’s handled multiple cloud implementations and integrations. Reputable providers should be able to share their own cloud models, provide references, and ensure that you start and end with a reasonable budget.

Scalability is key in the cloud. It’s one of the major benefits, so make sure your organization is in a position to leverage it. With the right cloud set up, scaling up your user base should be easy and hassle-free. The documentation your IT consulting provides should include detailed plans regarding the tools and features needed for HITECH and HIPAA requirements. With a clear, comprehensive implementation plan, you can minimize downtime and disruptions while you move your data and applications to the cloud.

Steps to Evaluating and Choosing the Best IT Outsourcing Company

healthcare IT services companies

How to Choose the Best IT Outsourcing Company

Outsourcing IT service and care is a smart idea for many businesses. Here’s how to evaluate and select the best IT outsourcing company to handle your IT.

healthcare IT services companies

Your healthcare practice undoubtedly relies on technology to operate smoothly and effectively. In fact, more than any other type of business, businesses in the healthcare industry absolutely must have a stronghold on the digital aspects of their operation. Personal patient information is simply too sensitive to not be properly stored and maintained.

As a result of these specific demands on dental and other medical practices, many healthcare institutions are turning to information technology outsourcing companies to handle their technology.

If your practice is seeking a local IT outsourcing company to hire, here are the steps you should take to properly evaluate and select your option.

Step 1: Scope out your local options.

We recommend going with a local hire when it comes to IT outsourcing companies. Local is better for several reasons. First, you’ll likely know their other clients and be able to speak with them about the quality of care they’re receiving.

Next, local companies will certainly be able to offer on-site assistance, which is exactly what you should be looking for. Companies located out-of-state or too far away within your state won’t be able to get to you in time if they need to offer hands-on assistance. This is simply unacceptable for a dental or medical practice as you may someday require emergency on-site assistance that can’t wait.

Try to come up with a complete list of local potential candidates to interview.

Step 2: Narrow the list based on industry expertise and experience.

Either by examining each candidate’s website or speaking directly with a sales representative, get an idea for what expertise and experience each company has. You want to see that they’ve not only been a fully-functioning IT outsourcing company for at least a few years, but that they also have unique experience in the healthcare industry.

While businesses in other industries may be able to work with IT companies who don’t specialize in any particular industry, healthcare practices should be looking for IT companies who cater specifically to businesses and organizations in the healthcare world. You should also look for IT companies who’ve had consistent clients who have been with them for a considerable amount of time.

Step 3: Narrow the list based on what services each candidate offers.

Nearly all IT outsourcing companies have comprehensive websites where you can see the services they offer. We can’t tell you exactly what services to look for because the needs of your unique practice may vary.

However, some of the services you’ll likely want to have include:

  • Backup and recovery services
  • Cloud services
  • Disaster recovery
  • Consulting and project management
  • Application hosting
  • Telecommunication services
  • Email and IM archiving
  • Business continuity planning
  • Cybersecurity

Step 4: Schedule interviews and prepare a list of interview questions.

Once you have three or four IT company candidates who may be able to adequately handle the outsourcing of your practice’s technology, schedule interviews with each one.

You’ll want to prepare for each of these interviews by making a list of questions to ask. We recommend asking the following questions to each IT outsourcing company you interview:

  • What is the scope of the services you offer? Do you work with a range of industries or exclusively with healthcare practices?
  • How can you push our practice to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in healthcare technology without causing service interruption or technology that quickly becomes redundant?
  • How will you ensure that our patients’ personal sensitive data stays safe from cybercriminals and hackers?
  • Who will we be working directly with when we have a question or an issue? Will we be assigned a unique service manager?
  • How fast is your response time if we have an emergency?
  • What credentials and certifications does your technical staff have?
  • Do you offer 24/7 service and assistance?
  • Who is your oldest client, and how long have you been working with them?
  • How do you plan on helping our practice meet our business goals?
  • What levels of service do you offer, and how do you take payments?

It is crucial to take your time when choosing an IT outsourcing company for your practice. By following the steps above, you’ll streamline the selection and interview process and set your practice up for success where your technology management is concerned.