Proper IT management of healthcare information can be a matter of life and death. Most patient information is now kept on private servers or on secure cloud storage providers. While written records still exist, getting patients the treatment they need depends on fast access to accurate digital information. If your IT company isn’t knowledgeable about HIPAA, network security and disaster recovery, people won’t just lose money. Their health can be affected. Not all IT management companies can properly handle the healthcare industry, so do thorough research before you hire one.

HIPAA Adherence

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was passed in 1996 to protect individual’s insurance and healthcare information as well as allow individuals to keep their coverage if they lost their job. Any company dealing in health information must follow government regulations to secure and protect the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI). This act pertains to all forms of information, including electronic data. Breaches in HIPAA can lead to fines and other legal action.

Your managed IT service needs to have experience in protecting this information, making certain that it cannot be misused in any way. Unless the firm knows HIPAA rules backward and forward, they are not the right company for you.

Network Security

You will need an IT service that provides flexible solutions for security. Of course, your information must be safeguarded from hacking by malicious third parties, so you need to choose a company that keeps up with the latest in security trends such as incorporating AI, protecting against ransomware, and dealing with the Internet of Things.

Your IT management company should provide the option of a Hybrid Cloud, a system that lets you keep some things in the cloud while maintaining other information, such as that protected by HIPAA, on site. Healthcare providers and insurance companies benefit most from the use of this hybrid system since it gives them the storage they need and protects patient privacy.

Disaster Recovery

When a disaster strikes, natural or otherwise, all types of businesses suffer, but none more than the healthcare industry and their patients/clients. During a hurricane, for instance, you deal with injured people who desperately need to reach their healthcare provider or get information from their insurance company. Any problems with data at that point can have serious consequences.

An excellent IT management company can offer you a HIPAA compliant backup and data recovery plan. Having backup is a different process than actual recovery. Backing up data simply means all data is copied and stored in another location from the original. Recovery means retrieving this backup information, even under the most difficult of circumstances.

Because healthcare data is so sensitive, your IT management firm will have to complete audits regularly to prove that they maintain HIPAA compliance, especially during and after a natural or man-made disaster.

Cloud-based recovery, as well as on-site recovery, is necessary to keep large healthcare facilities running after a ransomware attack, flood or power outage. To ensure that their system is adequate, your IT provider will need to conduct regular testing.

Storage Capability

Healthcare data is exploding, both due to patient records and increased use of digital tools. As a result, initial and backup data requires a huge storage capability. Before choosing an IT management company, make certain that they have this capability and the ability to expand as necessary. Also, find out how much such an expansion in data storage will cost your company. You will need more storage, so plan for this reality now.

Data Integrity

Data integrity simply means that your company’s information is kept safe and private from anyone who should not have access to it. Obviously, the more people who have access, the greater chance of a security or ethical breach. A recent Forbes article suggests that you ask the following questions of IT companies.

How do you keep proprietary and candidate data safe? Ask for specific examples.

If applicable, are you GDPR compliant? GDPR is the new European Union law that regulates data privacy and imposes severe fines for non-compliance.

What are your certifications that apply to data privacy? Have them show you proof of specialized training, awards, etc.
You should also add any questions you have that pertain to your particular business.

Healthcare-related businesses require more from an IT management company than businesses from other industries. The privacy issues involved are more sensitive and carefully legislated. Failure to maintain data privacy has severe consequences. The firm’s focus has to be on HIPAA compliance as well as data backup and emergency recovery. A business can lose millions of dollars from even a short period of computer/internet downtime. A healthcare facility or insurance company outage will harm the business financially, but, more importantly, may endanger patient health.

Carefully interview any managed service providers to make certain they can handle your security and storage needs before contracting with them. Inquire about their experience in this particular field and ask for customer testimonials. When it comes to healthcare, your IT management service cannot be less than perfect.

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