Whether you’re a small healthcare practice or part of a larger medical group or network, the right IT support and consulting firm will keep your practice healthy and efficient and your patients happy.
In our connected world, medical and office staff and patients rely on real time, up-to-date access to medical records, lab test results, schedules, and billing procedures.
A busy practice can’t afford downtime or risk security breaches of patient information. Having a reliable, trusted IT partner can directly affect the quality, level and safety of patient care – as well as your bottom line.
Here’s a summary of the five things to examine when looking for an IT support partner for your healthcare practice:
- Size and Substance
The right IT service firm for your practice must have sufficient number of staff and expertise to meet both onsite and remote access service needs and resolve problems quickly to minimize downtime.
Your IT support partner should provide you with a dedicated network engineer to analyze your assets on a regular basis and check them against industry standards. This ensures that your system software is periodically updated and protected from potential security and productivity risks.
Another vital sign is understanding your unique system requirements to provide secure system and data storage and access for your various stakeholders. Your EMR and practice management system must maintain hundreds of patient records; manage secure communication among network physicians, medical personnel and patients; and provide accurate and timely billing. If you offer your patients a digital portal to access their records and important messages from your practice, it must be securely configured for remote and mobile users.
24/7 every day of the year. That’s when your managed IT services provider must be available to you. You are hiring experts to maintain, fix and secure your practice’s IT systems at all times.
Your IT support and consulting firm should also provide oversight on every aspect of your network to keep it healthy and reliable: backup systems to prevent data loss, proactive maintenance schedules to identify potential equipment or systems failure, an asset list with service dates for all equipment, software, vendors, and systems, and more.
Additionally, 24/7 monitoring of your system can help discover small problems before they evolve into bigger ones, and allow your IT firm to receive automatic notification when there’s an IT problem.
Another reliability tip: Redundant internet connections must be installed in your office to ensure that everyone stays connected—so that if your primary ISP goes down, then the secondary ISP kicks in to prevent downtime. This is particularly important in medical emergency situations that require immediate access to patient records.
- HIPAA Compliance
It’s a given. HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance is a mandatory factor for any medical practice or healthcare facility, and your IT services provider must be HIPAA savvy. The HIPAA act was designed to protect the confidentiality and security of individuals’ healthcare information. Therefore, your provider must know what is required to comply, from encryption to protect sensitive patient information to following national standards for securing electronically-protected health information.
Every day, there are news reports of cyber attacks, computer hacking, new malware and viruses, and other threats. Smartphones, tablets, and wearables only increases the number ways thieves and hackers can get into your systems. Your IT support partner has to ensure that all of your computers, servers, networking equipment, mobile devices, as well as Cloud services, are fully protected, and updated/patched every single night.
- Cost Effective
Once you have identified your essential IT needs, it is time to find the IT firm with the best service package and experience for you. Ask for referrals and speak to their current clients. While there are small firms that offer hourly-fee or “on-demand” support, it is best to find a managed IT services provider that offers fixed-cost support services, staffed to meet your requirements. Remember, you are hiring a complete IT department for your medical practice or facility, from the IT director to the help desk personnel, to provide you with total tech support for your computing network.
To be the most cost-effective, ask about the various service packages and the precise services that they include. A robust fixed-cost service plan will generally include unlimited onsite visits and remote support at a fixed monthly rate. The contract should include clearly identified materials and services. It should guarantee 24/7/365 system monitoring, troubleshooting and maintenance as well as IT consulting services and a virtual CIO to ensure you are keeping abreast of the ever changing technology landscape. Make sure everything you need is spelled out so that there are no surprises.
What’s the diagnosis for your healthcare IT service partner?
In the final analysis, a good IT service partner must be able to extend coverage to meet the evolving needs of its healthcare clients, while staying on top of the dramatic changes in technology that occur every year.
Are you getting the results you want and do you know what to expect? Are you adequately protected from potential (and expensive) security breaches or network failure? Can your medical and office staff and patients access the data they need from anywhere, securely and easily?
IND Corporation specializes in IT services for medical practices and healthcare facilities in New Jersey. Contact us at 973-227-5020 for a system checkup or to find out more about our unique perspective on technology management and costs.