Like any other organization, your healthcare center relies on IT.
In fact, if you take a few minutes to think about all the ways you rely on technology to serve your patients, you can likely come up with a lengthy list.
But your IT concerns don’t end with if your solutions work or not.
You also need those solutions to be configured and secure to protect patient confidentiality and follow HIPAA mandates.
With outsourced IT, including managed services, rising, The KR Group has seen more healthcare organizations interested in contracting an external team for technology needs.
And we’ve heard repeatedly you know you need help managing your IT, but you’re nervous about how it meets HIPAA standards.
HIPAA and Your Technology
There’s no doubt that HIPAA adds a layer of complexity to managing your IT. However, once you understand the reasoning and guidelines (and find an MSP who does as well), you can see why it’s necessary to protect the client-patient experience and your practice.
Some of HIPAA’s expectations from your IT environment include:
- You protect and handle PHI.
- You keep health records safe from physical and digital exploits.
- You reduce fraud within the healthcare system.
- You keep your IT environment at an organizational standard to maintain the integrity of sensitive information.
You can implement this with complex password policies, multi-factor authentication, endpoint security protection, and additional layers of security. Of course, you also want to have current, updated solutions across your IT environment and educate your users on how they can be a part of your security strategy.
If this describes the situation you find yourself in, keep in mind the following ways a managed IT services provider (MSP) can help keep your healthcare organization HIPAA compliant:
- Data management
- Secure wireless networks
- Back-tested knowledge and experience
- Technical focus
- All-encompassing services
If the current way you’re managing your IT is not working for your healthcare organization, thinking about how you could benefit from the following facets of managed services can help you better maintain your technology.
One of the first things an MSP will do is check if you’re currently meeting this requirement, and if you aren’t, they’ll put the mechanisms in place, so you start encrypting data.
Additionally, your MSP will protect your data in other ways.
They’ll make sure you have an appropriate backup and disaster recovery plan in place, so if something damages your data, you can re-access the information you need.
And, this also means setting up role-based access, so no one can see or tamper with data who shouldn’t be privy to the information.
Secure Wireless Networks
The security of your internal and guest wifi networks is another area your MSP will pay close attention to.
If a guest or malicious actor can use your wireless network to access ePHI or electronic health records (EHR), patient confidentiality is compromised.
Some of the ways an MSP can help you secure your network include:
- Securing private networks with complex credentials
- Placing wireless access points and other networking gear out of reach from passersby
- Ensuring users connected to the guest wireless can’t access internal data
- Implementing enterprise-grade security solutions, such as a DNS filter
Back-Tested Knowledge and Experience
There are a few qualities an MSP will bring to your IT environment that an internal IT department may not. Back-tested knowledge and experience are two examples.
This benefit of managed IT services applies to all industry verticals when they work with an MSP, but it’s especially noticeable in healthcare, where the stakes of doing something wrong are so high.
Any MSP you consider working with should have previous experience following HIPAA guidelines. This means they’ll come to your IT environment with ideas that work and a plan to keep your patient information secure.
Since an MSP is a contracted solution and not a payroll employee, the team brings an unbiased opinion to your IT environment.
For example, if an MSP found something in your IT environment that wasn’t aligned with HIPAA practices, they would tell you the issue and make a plan to make you compliant. They don’t have to think about why a predecessor may have configured it that way or who might oppose changes.
Instead of worrying about the politics that can sometimes play a role in organizational decisions, your MSP addresses any HIPAA errors from a strictly technical focus.
If you opt for an internal IT department, you must ensure every employee understands HIPAA and stays current. Alternatively, if you want to use the occasional outsourced IT service, you’ll have to vet them for knowledge of HIPAA.
However, once you find an MSP you trust, they can work on all areas of your IT environment — in and out of contract — without you worrying about how they’ll keep you HIPAA compliant.
Managed IT Services, HIPAA, and Your Healthcare Organization
Put yourself in your patients’ shoes; it’s easy to see why your IT environment should be secure and properly maintained given the information that you have.
As you think of starting a managed IT services contract that follows HIPAA regulations, you have a few extra concerns. These include secure data management and wireless networks, experience with healthcare, technical focus, and knowledge of multiple IT areas.
Find an MSP that can address all of those needs, and you can eliminate the stress of worrying about your IT.
Still unsure if managed IT services are the right option for your IT? Find more details about a contract in this free guide. It reviews everything from onboarding to ticket resolution, and you’ll get a feel for what signing up for managed IT services with The KR Group looks like.