HIPAA Compliancy: Why IT Matters
In the digital age, HIPAA compliancy is more complex than ever. With technology in healthcare and senior living comes electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) and the need to protect it. Failure to comply with HIPAA regulations can mean heavy fines, lawsuits, or criminal charges.
The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services takes compliance very seriously and using an IT service provider that doesn’t know how to protect your residents’ data is no excuse. Your residents trust you with your data and the government says that data is now your responsibility.
Your residents trust you with your data and the government says that data is now your responsibility.
What Is HIPAA Compliance?
HIPAA compliance involves meeting the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and any subsequent amendments. Entities that deal with Protected Health Information (PHI) must have viable physical, network, and process security measures in place.
We Know HIPAA Matters
As IT experts in the senior living industry, we understand just how critical patient privacy and HIPAA compliance are. We want to help you protect your residents’ data not just because it’s required by law, but because it’s the right thing to do.
That’s why when you partner with Integrated Health Systems for your senior care IT needs, you have access to ConnectaCare™ a HIPAA compliant secure virtual desktop for senior living.
This web-based virtual desktop solution, provides a single platform for users to access hosted applications, shared files, and documents. ConnectaCare™ allows you to establish compliant standards for data storage and management, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve taken a large step toward HIPAA and HITECH compliance.
In addition to providing HIPAA compliant software solutions, Integrated Health Systems will take all of the necessary precautions to prevent a data breach, keeping your residents’ ePHI safe.
We’ll make sure your network security is up-to-date, software updates are installed, as well as monitor all computing devices, internet circuits, WLAN, and LAN equipment for vulnerabilities and threats.
Your staff can even call our 24/7 help desk for immediate support if they suspect one of the connected devices they are using has been compromised.
We’ve Got You Covered
If you’re not sure if your senior care is using devices or software that’s HIPAA compliant, we can help with that, too. If you’re not quite there, we’ll get you up to speed and help you establish compliant standards for data storage and management. You can rest easy knowing that your residents’ data is safe and protected with Integrated Health Systems.
What do Those IT Guys do Anyway?
The professionals that serve your company’s IT needs can often seem like a mystery. You come to work and unless you’re having an issue with your computer, the network, or a printer, you might even forget they exist. But, the truth is, you wouldn’t be able to do your job without your IT team toiling behind the scenes, long after you’ve left the office, to give you a seamless user experience. They are much more than the “people who do computer stuff.” Here are some things your IT professionals do on a daily basis to help you get to know their role better:
The installation and maintenance of your company’s computer network is a basic responsibility of the ever-versatile IT professional. Nobody really realizes that there is a guy or gal behind the scenes keeping everything up and running until they can’t get on the internet. Network security also falls under the purview of your IT team and they’ll be there to help you when you inevitably receive a dreaded phishing email.
This is where you’d really miss your IT professionals if you didn’t have them. They are the ones you call when you just can’t figure out what’s wrong with your computer. They keep things running smoothly by making sure regular software updates are installed, repairing hardware issues, and training employees on how to use new tech or programs. They also man the IT desk to assist employees with all of their IT questions and problems.
Company Website Hosting
Your IT professionals sometimes create and maintain your company’s website. If they don’t actually do that, they are usually hosting it on a server. The webmaster, who can be found within the IT department, makes sure the plugins are updated, the site is secure and loading as fast as possible. A website is often the first stop for new customers, so a good first impression can be the difference between gaining or losing their business.
Another thing IT professionals within your organization are responsible for is programming. They are responsible for “fixing” programs, maintaining them and getting old programs to play nice with the new ones. They even develop new programs on occasion. These programs can be basic or complex and cover things such as human resource functions, inventory tracking, or records management.
At the end of the day, a good team of IT professionals is invaluable and can literally keep you in business. But, on top of that, they make sure all of the behind the scenes tech work is taken care of so you don’t even have to think about it. This means you can spend your time focusing on whats important, proving the highest level of care to your residents.
Will the General IT Practitioner Suffice?
Choosing how to manage IT for your senior care facility can seem like a daunting task. You want the best possible IT solution so you can focus your time and energy on your residents. In most cases, you will have to choose between hiring a general IT practitioner, hiring a number of specialists, or hiring a remotely-managed IT service provider.
What is a General IT Practitioner?
A general IT practitioner is someone who is proficient in many areas of information technology but specializes in none. A general practitioner can typically provide desktop support, manage databases, webpages, and phone servers. If you were going to hire one person to manage IT for your business, you’d probably go with a general practitioner.
When a General IT Practitioner Isn’t Enough
Just like you could choose a general practitioner for your medical care, you can also choose a general practitioner for your IT needs. While it might be a good idea to start out with a general practitioner, as soon as you are diagnosed with a heart condition, for example, you’re going to need to be referred to a specialist or even a team of specialists. People bring their kids to see a pediatrician because they specialize in the care of infants and children. You should think about IT solutions for your business the same way.
A general IT practitioner is great for the basics. But senior care has many industry-specific tech requirements your general IT practitioner probably won’t be familiar with. But, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and hire a bunch of IT specialists to meet all of you needs. That would get really expensive, really fast.
A More Sensible Solution for Senior Living
Wouldn’t it make more sense to opt for a remotely-managed IT solution that has all the specialists you’d ever need available to you any time day or night for a reasonable rate? We think so. At IHS, we understand the intricacies of this industry and have a great team in place to take the burden of managing IT off of your and your employee’s shoulders so you can focus on your main priority—your residents!
Focus. Does it Really Matter?
We rely on technology for just about everything these days, including keeping our businesses up and running. But, what do you do when your tech breaks? Unless you are an IT genius yourself, you hire someone. Every business has the need for IT services. What that looks like for each business across a wide range of industries looks very different. However, what it really boils down to is should you hire a generalist or a specialist? If you’re operating in the senior care industry, we have the answer for you!
What’s the Difference?
An IT service provider that’s classified as a generalist understands a wide range of IT-related topics, but has little depth in any one area. Tech specialists on the other hand, such as Integrated Health Systems, maintain a deep understanding and focus in a specialized area such as Senior Living Solutions. Both generalists and specialists have an important role to in the world of IT, but you will need to determine which one is the right fit for your business.
Don’t Use a Jack of All Trades…
…master of none. Many startups and young businesses opt to hire a generalist for their IT needs. While hiring an IT generalist may cost you less in the short-term it could end up costing you later on down the road. When you’re faced with an IT issue and your generalist isn’t able to remedy the problem right away, you’re going to be looking at some downtime. Can your business afford to have downtime? What will be the impact to your customers?
Specialists in Senior Care
The senior care industry is unique. Seniors require specialized care, so it makes sense to use an IT solution that is tailored to the needs of the senior care industry. It’s a thriving industry and any business owner in senior care knows that they need an IT service provider that’s going to be able to grow and scale with them. With a specialized service provider like Integrated Health Systems, you’re getting a team of highly trained specialists that are familiar with your business’s specific needs.
Hiring the right IT service provider can allow you to focus on your real priorities. With IHS’s PULSE, a remote IT Help Desk Solution for Senior Living, you can hand over the management of your technology and spend more time focusing on what’s really important—caring for your residents. Some of the benefits of using a specialist like IHS as your IT service provider and being able to focus on your residents include:
- Lower costs
- Access to a team of IT experts
- Increased efficiency
- Improved focus
- 24/7/365 availability
When One IT Guy Isn’t Enough
From system maintenance and security, computing devices, internet circuits, WLAN, and LAN equipment, operating system updates, to Microsoft Windows patches, antivirus, malware, and security updates a senior living facility IT guy’s to-do list is never-ending. But, what do you do when your IT workload has truly exceeded your IT staff of one? Being in this situation is actually a good one—it means your business is growing. But, with growth comes growing pains. Finding a solution that scales with your business will be the key to your success. There are a few options to consider when growing your IT team.
#1 Hire Another Full-Time Team Member
Bringing another full-time IT person onboard may be the right choice if they will be able to help maintain the current workload. You’ll need to consider what needs your organization has and weigh them against what your budget can afford. You’ll also need to decide whether to hire an IT generalist or an IT specialist depending on your business’s needs. This means that you will have to have a general understanding of your IT needs and how to differentiate between the candidate who has talent and the candidate who has experience and how those differences will impact your decision.
#2 Hire Freelancers
If you have a few specialized tasks you need intermittent help with, you might consider hiring a freelancer. Freelancers are independent contractors or consultants that you only pay when you need a specific task or job completed. Freelancers can be hired for long or short-term projects. This can dramatically reduce costs compared to bringing on another full-time employee because even though you may have to pay an IT freelancer a higher hourly rate, you don’t have to worry about overhead costs such as employee benefits, training, and overtime expenses.
#3 Managed IT Services
The third option is to go with a remotely-managed IT service that specializes in senior care. In a way, you get the best of both worlds. You get the commitment and reliability of a full-time employee and the flexibility and breadth of skills and experience of the freelancer. If you choose to go with a managed IT service, you will have access to a robust IT support team whenever you need it at a reasonable cost. You won’t have to spend time worrying about patient privacy or if your firewalls are up-to-date. Rather you can spend that time focusing on providing the best care to your senior residents if you know your tech is being tended to.
Insourced vs Outsourced IT
If you’ve already established that one IT guy might not be enough to meet the needs of your senior living facility, the next move would be to determine whether you should insource or outsource your IT functions. While most organizations agree on the significance of new technologies not all of them are sure whether it’s better to develop organizations in-house or to outsource them to experts in the field.
Insourcing is typically the solution when a company has complex needs that require specialized support. Insourcing requires a significant financial investment. In addition to incurring the cost of a full-time IT staff, all IT products must be purchased and owned by the company.
In some cases, these costs are justified. Businesses that are highly specialized or operating in a niche market, businesses that operate under strict confidentiality and don’t want proprietary information accessible, as well as businesses who have developed their own IT programs and processes. In this case, they are the experts on their own products so it makes sense to keep IT in-house.
According to a Deloitte study, 74% of companies outsource IT services to better serve their businesses. There’s a good reason so many businesses choose to outsource—it allows the organization to focus on the primary function and mission of its business.
There are many advantages to outsourcing IT for your business including:
- Access to a Team of IT Experts- When developing an in-house IT team, you’re limited by your payroll. You can only afford to hire so many IT folks and you definitely wouldn’t be able to hire experts for every system you employ. By outsourcing, you gain access to a curated team of people who are highly trained and specialize in just what you need help with.
- Lower Costs- For the amount of experience and skill you get by outsourcing, you would have to pay a fortune to employ the same quality and quantity of IT support in-house.
- Increased Availability- in contrast to an in-house IT team who probably only work 9-5, with many outsourced IT solutions, including Integrated Health Systems, IT support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When you’re running a senior living facility where your team is working around the clock, you need an IT support team that will do the same.
- Competitive Edge- outsourcing allows smaller companies to provide services that would otherwise be out of their budget which makes them more competitive in their respective market.