5 Most Commonly-Overlooked Aspects of IT

NetgainCloud Computing, Healthcare IT

As we head into a new year, practices are busy figuring out how new regulations like MACRA will affect their practice, what new technologies will add value to their operations, and how to budget accordingly.

During this busy time of the year, there are some aspects of the IT environment that are often forgotten about or overlooked in the flurry of new regulations and payment models. Here are five examples and what you can do to ensure your practice is prepared:

1. Storage growth
As the electronic health record (EHR) matures and the full impact of Meaningful Use adoption is felt, practices can be caught off-guard by rising storage needs.

Iron Mountain, a leader in storing, protecting and managing information, reports that 95 percent of data created never gets retrieved and is considered archival-level data.

What can I do?

Understand your data retention needs and provision your IT environment for archival and tiered storage. When properly implemented, these storage-management techniques can save your practice significant money in 2017.

2. Patient helpdesk
Meaningful Use has driven patients to adopt the Patient Portal as a way of taking an active role in their care. While 87 percent of patients want electronic access to their health records, the average overall portal adoption rate across the country is 29 percent, according to athenahealth’s research.

For practices, Patient Portals create a need for IT support professionals who field and troubleshoot patient’s calls regarding Portal-related issues like registration, passwords, software errors, etc. With the new scoring system around MACRA, improving patient engagement is even more imperative for merit-based payment.

What can I do?

Adoption of Patient Portals will hit an all-time high in 2017. Determine a plan to support your patient’s portal experience. This support role can sometimes be filled by an outsourced provider like your Patient Portal partner, but is most commonly fulfilled by internal practice staff.

3. Cloud
EHR providers, labs, hospital-partners, payers and other members of the health delivery ecosystem continue to dabble in cloud offerings, or, in some cases, explore full adoption.

Because of this, practices are faced with a diversification of ancillary technology – more remote connections, more virtual-private-networks, more Business Associate Agreements (BAA) and more security concerns, as data flows not just between two parties, but among their cloud providers as well.

What can I do?

Understand how each of your partners and vendors are using cloud technologies and how that affects the security of your data.

For instance, if your lab company is using a data-entry vendor in Canada, your practice would need a BAA with that company as well. However, BAAs are only binding in the United States, so the data that is being transmitted through the Canadian partner could introduce compliance risk, or worse.

4. Licensing
In 2017, cloud-based licensing models for popular software titles like Office 365 will become more cost effective for practices of all sizes. Because of this, practices that invested in traditional volume licensing may be pressured to walk away from investments before they are fully-realized.

What can I do?

When negotiating new software investments, consider both traditional and cloud-based offerings. Evaluate your current licensing agreements and work with your software providers to determine if a cloud-based, subscription model is a better fit for your practice.

5. Strategic Roadmap
Strategically planning for IT initiatives can help your practice align those efforts with overall business goals, experience fewer unexpected expenses, gain IT department and executive team buy-in and anticipate how technologies will affect each other.

But, between general practice operations, new regulations and changes in payment methods, proactively planning for IT can easily fall to the wayside. Failing to roadmap can result in an IT environment full of point solutions that serve as islands, rather than an integrated desktop or delivery system.

What can I do?

Work with your internal IT department or your IT service provider to determine an 18-36-month roadmap that proactively addresses current IT landscape, future needs and the associated budget. Get started today by downloading the IT roadmap guide.

Taking a proactive approach to your IT strategy will help your practice save time, money and alleviate the stress that comes with the unpredictability of IT.

What’s more – approaching technology in a well-thought out manner will allow you to make decisions that improve your user’s experience, making them more productive and effective.