Are Healthcare Providers Ready for the Perfect Storm?Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 12:10 pm
With the blizzard of 2013 as a distant memory and months of warm weather in front of us, now might seem like to an odd time talk about storms. There is big storm brewing on the horizon for healthcare providers — the Healthcare Reform Act. When this policy goes into effect, physicians may find themselves flooded with questions and buried under an avalanche of paperwork. As someone who has weathered a fair share of Nor’easters, hurricanes, and blizzards, my advice to physicians is this: a pound of prevention now can save you a ton of trouble later on.
You can prepare for the extra demands it will place on your practice by implementing technology solutions that will make you more secure, more accountable, and more agile. This month, I’ve prepared a pre-storm checklist for our healthcare clients, while noting that preparedness is always in season regardless of what industry you’re in.
Check Your Security. Even with HIPAA regulations in place, it’s estimated that 40% of all security breaches happen in the healthcare industry. Physicians will need to pay still closer attention to security in the post-Reform landscape, as they can expect to see more data, more data restrictions, and more data access. RMON’s Weatherproof Point: Improved security may be the single most compelling reason to consider remote managed services, because they provide a cost-effective way to keep patient data secure 24/7.
Virtualize your IT infrastructure. Medical offices often have to reserve capital investment for new medical equipment, with little left over for their IT budget. Instead of trying to squeeze more life out of older, legacy servers, medical offices can virtualize their IT infrastructure to run more applications on fewer machines without sacrificing performance. RMON’s Weatherpoof Point: You can also reduce software costs with virtual desktop solutions like those available from Citrix and Microsoft.
Start Auditing Now. With more regulation comes tighter controls on systems auditing: understanding who accessed and modified electronic files when and why. Trying to create an audit trail after the fact, however, is like trying to piece together a broken egg. RMON’s Weatherproof Point: Add remote auditing as a managed service is a simple way to ensure compliance and provide quick accountability.
Move Into the Cloud. It may seem counterintuitive with all this talk of storms, but the Cloud is actually a safe place for healthcare IT to be, provided you make the right choices about what data and services belong there. For example, collaboration, security, mobility, cost reduction, and speed are some of the benefits you can expect from Cloud-based services. RMON’s Weatherproof Point: In a recent Cisco report, 74% of patients polled said they were comfortable with online consultation/communication with their healthcare providers, adding one more reason for physicians to embrace the Cloud.
Put a Mobile Management Plan In Place. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops are the new diagnostic tools of the 21st century healthcare professional. Medical offices need to understand the advantages and the risks of mobile technology more than ever as post-Reform measures bring more people and more networks into the patient-physician conversation. RMON’s Weatherproof Point: In a world where confidential information is only a few clicks away, healthcare providers need to have a mobile device management strategy in place, as well as a core set of trusted mobile apps like those available from EagleSoft, MediSoft, and AllScripts.
As you can see, even non-healthcare companies can benefit by following this checklist. After all, as we New Englanders know, it only takes a few minutes for the weather to change.
About the Author
RMON Networks helps healthcare providers and other small-to-medium businesses weather the changes in their industry with IT solutions that leverage the latest technology for increased agility, security, and productivity. Our trusted IT advisors are trained and certified to help businesses effectively navigate complex issues like HIPAA compliance, network security, and regulatory audit requirements.
The Cloud Offers Big Benefits to Small BusinessesPosted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 2:51 pm
Today, you can find a wide range of IT applications available on the Cloud. You can store data in the Cloud with Amazon Cloud Drive. You can manage sales information in the Cloud through SalesForce. You can even talk to people over the Cloud using Skype. But the Cloud is about more than doing small things on a big scale. It can also help small and medium businesses increase their productivity and dramatically reduce costs by shifting the majority of their day-to-day IT into the Cloud.
By “day-to-day IT,” I mean the hardware and software your business has to buy, install and maintain to be productive every day: servers, desktops, storage devices, firewalls, phones, private branch exchanges, and software applications like email, productivity suites (e.g., Microsoft Office), databases, and more. You can move all of that into the Cloud today—but will it really help your business? Yes, and I’ll give you five reasons why you should think about moving your IT into the Cloud this year:
Reason #1: Save Money and Stabilize IT Spending
Calculating the true cost of IT can be tricky; in addition to the upfront cost for hardware/software, you need to consider the internal costs of installation, troubleshooting, and maintenance, plus the cost of upgrades, additional licenses, etc. By using a Cloud-based solution, such as Microsoft Office 365, businesses simply pay a flat monthly fee, in return for which they get access to the same suite of Microsoft applications they’re using today with the same (or better) functionality plus guaranteed uptime.
Reason #2: Never Fear Another Upgrade
To upgrade or not to upgrade? That is the question many businesses struggle with when new versions of Windows, Office and other applications are released. When you go to a Cloud-based application delivery model, upgrades happen automatically—usually at no additional cost. As a result, your business gains the competitive advantage of the latest features and functionality without any internal disruption to your business.
Reason #3: Improve Productivity & Communications
As employees become more mobile, work more days outside of the office, and bring in more devices like smartphones and tablets to stay connected and productive, they often find they have less or limited access to the same applications they have at the office. By moving the communications platform out of their core network and into the Cloud, businesses can provide the same secure access to communications and applications anywhere to anyone. Microsoft Lync Online is a great example of a Cloud-based voice, video, and instant messaging platform that not only increases productivity but can also significantly reduce the cost of long-distance calls, audio/videoconferencing services, and even eliminate the need for some travel.
Reason #4: Get Out of the IT Business
Businesses can quickly find their day-to-day operations derailed by IT issues: slow email servers, viruses, and compatibility issues between applications and new devices like smartphones and tablets. Instead of spending hours (or even days) troubleshooting and fixing problems, businesses can benefit immensely by moving their email and other critical business applications (e.g., calendars, contacts) into the Cloud with Microsoft Exchange Online. In addition, Cloud-based solutions like Windows Intune, when delivered by an experienced IT partner, can help protect and maintain physical IT assets like PCs and servers remotely as a service.
Reason #5: Protect Your Data
That’s right: Putting information in the Cloud can actually be safer than storing it in your own data center. Many Cloud providers use state-of-the-art security systems to protect their virtual storage centers, including firewalls, encryption, authentication, sophisticated virus/malware detection tools, and more. At RMON Networks, we offer a Cloud-based online backup solution that meets the strictest security compliance requirements for hospitals, retailers, government and law enforcement agencies, and other security-sensitive industries.
As you can see, you don’t have to be a big business to see big benefits from moving your IT into the Cloud. For more information, contact us any time and we’ll be happy to give you a ground-level view of how your business can do more (for less) with Cloud-based solutions from RMON and Microsoft.