6 Tips for evaluating Electronic Medical Records
Which EMR / EHR Provider is the Right Provider for your Practice?
A growing number of physicians in the U.S. fully use an electronic health record system. Barriers to adoption include excessive costs for setup and maintenance, disruption to physician productivity, and insufficient financial or clinical benefits. But HITECH Act incentives, technological progress, and consumer demand are overcoming resistance and spurring a rapid wave of adoption.
The process of vetting and implementing an EHR is challenging for any medical group. But the right EHR can help get your practice more money, more time, and more control — enabling you to focus on patient care.
Whether you are looking for additional functionality such as health management reminders, want to start ePrescribing or are looking to demonstrate standards for pay-for-performance Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) can be a useful tool. But with hundreds of EMR vendors in the marketplace how do you know who to add to your short list?
Tips for evaluating electronic health record systems
Tip #1: Get others in your practice involved. Find out what they want from your Electronic Health Records. Get their buy-in early. Hold regular meetings with providers and staff to discuss needs, concerns and questions, and list the problems you want to solve with Electronic Health Records.
Tip #2: Look carefully at what the different vendors are offering. Concentrate on those that are well-established in the medical software field and that offer comprehensive training and support. Consider how well they are prepared to face future standards and whether they are CCHIT CertifiedSM, which demonstrates Electronic Health Records software functionality, inter-opperability and security.
Tip #3: See the program for yourself. In-person demonstrations are vital to determining whether a system will meet your specific needs. Request them from each short-listed candidate. Run through a number of scenarios that are likely to test the product’s suitability. Create a checklist of all the important features and requirements, and note whether the Electronic Health Records meet these requirements.
Tip #4: Ask about implementation. No two practices are alike. Electronic Health Records implementation requires tailoring and fine-tuning to meet your specific needs. Find out how far each company is prepared to go to provide customization for the particular needs of your practice.
Tip #5: Set a timetable. Find out how long each candidate system will take to become operational. Integrated systems may be much easier to set up and resulting in less disruption to your practice than separate systems interfaced together.
Tip #6: Finally, evaluate each of the candidate systems with your colleagues. Make a decision based on long term value, not on price alone. Develop a scoring system based on your research and demos, or submit requests for proposals (RFPs) to each potential partner and compare the responses side-by-side. And don't forget: include questions regarding training and ongoing support—this element is critical to the successful implementation of your Electronic Health Records.
Computer Systems Support & Design, LLC based in Fairfield County helps medical provider offices get the most out of their IT infrastructure and supports them in implementing and maintaining their systems. We are vendor-neutral. Please e-mail me your question and I will try to answer all of them as they come in.
Want to learn more quickly? Call Johannes Banck, CIO at (877) 717-6075 Ext 211.
Real People. Real Technical Support. Real IT Solutions. Because Your Business Is Worth It!
How to Protect your Medical Practice from Technology Disaster - Part 2 The Tips
.... continued from Part 1
While it's impossible to plan for every potential computer disaster or emergency, below are the top 10 biggest threats and easy steps you can take to dramatically lower the chances of them happening to you.
Before we dive in, please keep in mind that although the steps individually may seem "easy", the complexity is in the details. Overall it is best to look at medical office security from a Unified Threat Management and Defense-In-Depth point of view. UTM is the evolution of the traditional firewall into an all-inclusive security product able to perform multiple security functions within one single appliance: network fire-walling, network intrusion prevention and gateway antivirus (AV), gateway anti-spam, VPN, content filtering, load balancing, data leak prevention and on-appliance reporting. But it is also part of the bigger defense in depth concept. Computer Systems Support & Design helps Medical Offices apply smart defense-in-depth strategies.
Today's Biggest Threats To Your Network and PHI Security…And Simple, Easy Ways To PREVENT Them From Happening to Your Medical Practice
A recent report stated that Stolen Medical Records can bring $50 Apiece on the Underground Market. Isn't reason enough to protect your network and patient Protected Health Information (PHI)?
Says Brian Lapidus, senior vice president for Kroll Advisory Solutions: "Organizations that have never dealt with one of these issues might think they're prepared," says Lapidus. "But when you get into the reality of actually handling the event, it becomes a whole different ballgame." "Sure, there are security factors built in to the HITECH Act", he adds, "but because the incentive is focused on complying with EHR conversion and meaningful use, I think security might be taking a little bit of a backseat."
Indeed, 27 percent of respondents to Krolls survey reported a security breach in the past year – well up from 19 percent in 2010 and 13 percent in 2008. More than two-thirds (69 percent) experienced more than one in the past 12 months.
Please read on for top 10 IT Threats that must be addressed in a successful Unified Threat Management and Defense-In-Depth strategy:
Threat #1: Viruses and Worms
Today, viruses are still by far the most common type of network security threat. Viruses can do a wide range of damage from displaying a steady stream of annoying pop-up ads to freezing your entire network and corrupting your data. Not only can a virus corrupt your files, harvest passwords, and bring down your network, but it can hurt your reputation. HIPAA now requires mandatory reporting of breaches of 500 or more patient records to the OCR and the local media. If you or one of your employees unknowingly spreads a virus to a patient, or if the virus hijacks your e-mail address book, you’re going to make a lot of people very angry.
WORMs are even more dangerous because they don't need a host file to infect your network; they can simply be embedded into an e-mail. Once a computer is infected with a worm, it can make quick copies of itself and infect an entire network within a few hours. Because of this, worms are responsible for a good number of companies’ widespread network failures.
Obviously you need to make sure every PC and laptop in your office has anti-virus software installed. We recommend Webroot Anti Virus. But you can’t just install it and forget about it; someone needs to monitor your network to make sure every machine has the most up-to-date version installed AND to make sure the software isn't accidentally disabled.
Threat #2: Not Backing Up Your Data, AND Failing To Keep An Offsite Copy Of Your Data
It just amazes me how many businesses never back up their computer network, OR only keep an on-site copy of their data OR your office manager takes the backup home, outside of your control and perhaps unencrypted!! Imagine this: you write the most important piece of information you could ever write on a chalkboard and I come along and erase it. How are you going to get it back? You’re not.
Unless YOU MADE A COPY OF IT, you can’t recover the data. It’s gone. That is why it is so important to back up your network. There are a number of things that could cause you to lose data files. If the information on the disk is important to you, make sure you have more than one copy of it.
The first step is to make sure you have a good on-site copy of your data. We recommend Mozy for a cloud-based back-up solution. For a much more reliable and capable dedicated backup and disaster recovery appliance we recommend Datto Backup. This device can instantaneously take over all functions of your crashed server or continue working in the cloud through visualization.
Second, it’s absolutely critical that you keep an off-site copy as well. No one expects a flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster. A recent landscaping client experienced this first-hand, when his server flooded. But did you ever consider theft? What if someone breaks into your medical office and takes every single piece of computer equipment you have? It has happened. EXAMPLE: A small security business was relocating it’s office. Staff had packed everything in boxes, waiting for the movers. Instead, the thieves got to it first and cleaned out the nicely packed up office. What would be the PHI data risk if this happened to your Medical Office technology?
What if a neighboring doctors office catches fire or if a faulty sprinkler system waters your server room? Here’s another on-site disaster most people never consider…
What if your data becomes corrupt or a tape drive hardware failure erases your data? Again, your medical practice data is nothing but a memory. That’s why you want to not only keep an on-site copy of your data, but also an off-site copy. Your data is just too important to not do everything possible to protect it.
We recommend Datto Backup and Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery as the best on-site and of-site backup solutions. This Business Continuity solution even allows the business ramp-up a virtual replacement server within 30 minutes after a total server loss with all of your data in-tact.
Threat #3: Not Testing Your Back-ups To Make Sure They Are Working
This is another big mistake I see. Many practice owners set up some type of back-up system, but then never check to make sure it’s working properly. It’s not uncommon for a system to APPEAR to be backing up when in reality, it’s not. Especially suspect are tape-drives, Zip-drives and any magnetic media. Did you know that tape media has a maximum usable life of about 4 years which is drastically reduced by repeated backups.
At least once a month, have someone perform a restore of your medical practice and medical practice Management software to see if it CAN be restored and to see if your data is intact. If you still use tape, Tape drives have a failure rate of 100%—that means ALL tape drives will fail at some point.
Problem is, it often happens without any warning or sign, so you THINK you are backing up a good copy of your data when you aren't. Remember the Health Products company in Part 1 of this article series that shelled out $6,000 to recover data they THOUGHT they backed up? Don’t let this happen to you. Frequently test your data back-ups.
Threat #4: Trojan Horses
A Trojan horse is a malware attack that hides in something innocent such as a screen saver, computer game, or even a YouTube video.
Not too long ago the Saddam Trojan horse infected a number of PCs by using a link in an e-mail that promised to connect to a web page that showed the Saddam Hussein hanging, but instead infected the user with malware. Once installed it was designed to record screen shots and key strokes to steal financial information, accounts, and passwords. Today’s malicious content is designed to stealthily take control of systems and networks to create bot-nets that are remotely controlled stealing usernames and passwords used in identity theft or be the source of spam.
SHOCKING STATISTIC: In 2008 500,000 identity thefts occurred that could be traced back to medical offices. In 2010 the number was 1,500,000. What will be number be in 2013?
Trojan horses are very difficult to remove so an ounce of prevention is worth 5 pounds of cure. Educating employees is not enough to protect against these attacks because hackers are constantly coming up with new and innovative strategies to fool users and access your network.
We recommend that you block users from downloading freeware and computer games, as well as embedded links in e-mails. You may even want to block all web sites that are not on an approved list of web sites that employees may visit. Server software such as Microsoft Small Business Server, Foundation Server or now Windows Server 2012 are operating systems to consider for added control and security.
Threat #5: E-mail Spam and Malicious Links
Spam is an irritating and potentially malicious menace that every business has to deal with. Not only does it kill medical office productivity, introduce viruses, worms, and Trojan attacks, but it can also take up so much bandwidth that it causes your network to crash. Read more about how Online Criminals Target Your Users With Malicious Email!
When it comes to fighting spam, fortunately, a great deal of spam can be filtered out by a good email filter. Microsoft’s Exchange server, if you run e-mail locally, Appriver or Reflexion as an online solution, or a Unified Threat Management Security Appliance all provide excellent defenses –in-depth against malicious attempts to infiltrate your network and steal data or services. Or you may choose Microsoft's Office 365 Productivity Suite. Office 365 provides in my opinion one of the most reliable spam filtering solutions around. Read more about the Microsoft Office 365 Free Trial Offers at this link.
Threat #6: Not Maintaining A Secure Firewall (or Unified Threat Management UTM)
Practice owners tend to think that because they are “just a small business,” no one would waste time trying to hack in to their network, when nothing could be further from the truth. Experiments have been conducted where a single computer was connected to the Internet with no firewall. Within hours, over 13 gigabytes of space were taken over with malicious code, files that could not be deleted, and illegally obtained copyrighted material. Guess what! You are responsible for what is stored on your computers. The simple fact is there are thousands of unscrupulous individuals out there who think it’s fun to disable your computer just because they can or make substantial amounts of money off the use of your network.
We have had good success with Sonicwall and Fortinet Security Appliances to provide a strong Defense-at-the-Edge of your medical office network.
Threat #7: Not Installing The Most Up-To-Date Security Patches and Updates
Software companies (like Microsoft) are always discovering security loopholes in their programs that allow hackers to access your network. That is why they offer patches and updates to their users for free.
However, most hackers do NOT discover these security loopholes on their own. Instead, they learn about them when Microsoft (or any other software vendor for that matter) announces the vulnerability and issues an update or a patch. That is the hacker’s cue to spring into action; they immediately analyze the update and craft an exploit (like a virus) that allows them access to any computer or network that has not yet installed the security patch. The time between the release of the patch and the release of the exploit that targets the underlying vulnerability is getting shorter every day; that is why it’s important to keep an eye out for security updates and patches.
We recommend that you enable Microsoft’s automatic update and install service as the least expensive (but not complete) solution. In certain cases this may cause problems with reboots and cause outages. A better solution is to subscribe to our NetworkComplete™ service that first checks updates from ALL vendors for compatibility and then supervises the install of the updates and resolves problems that may arise.
Threat #8: Phishing Attacks
Phishing refers to spam e-mails designed to trick recipients into clicking on a link to an insecure web site with the intention of stealing account information and passwords for e-commerce sites, as well as credit card and bank account numbers.
Chances are you’ve received the infamous PayPal e-mails alerting you that your account is going to be deactivated or closed if you don’t log in to verify your account information. This is a classic phishing attack.
The best line of defense is educating employees on how hackers try to phish your account information. Even though simplistic phishing attempts like the PayPal scam now seem obvious to regular Internet users, a single phishing attack can compromise your entire network’s security if the employee is tricked into giving his network account information. As individuals our personal financial accounts has some legal protection. This is NOT the case for business bank accounts where you, the business owner, has all amounts in an account at-risk should access codes be compromised an monies transferred out. That is why you need to frequently remind your employees to never enter personal or business information in a web site solicited through an email. As part of our BusinessComplete™ Plan we provide employee education on a regular basis.
Threat #9: Hardware Loss and Residual Data Fragments
This happens not only on CSI- Crime Scene, a popular TV series. Not long ago a number of government laptops were stolen, making national news. This story brought to light another security problem for practices: stolen laptops and computers. While this may not seem like a big issue, it is a major contributor to the 10 million cases of identity theft suffered by Americans each year.
Thankfully, this threat can be minimized in a few easy steps:
- Encrypt sensitive PHI and financial data, especially the laptops used by employees who frequently travel. Windows 7 and Windows 8 with bitlocker is especially easy to setup. If your laptop gets stolen, this will prevent the thief from doing further damage by accessing financial records, patient files, sensitive patient data, and other confidential information.
- Wipe and/or shred files on old hard drives before they leave your medical office.
- Develop a policy for keeping track of employees’ use of smartphones and USB memory cards around sensitive data.
Threat #10: You And Your Staff of Doctors, Clinicians, Nurses, Technicians and Medical Office Support Staff
No, we are not kidding. End user mistakes are often the biggest threat to a network’s security. Did you know that 32% of data loss is due to user error (Source, Gartner Group). Whether it’s downloading a virus, accidentally deleting PHI an important folder or file, visiting shady web sites, or sharing confidential information, end users are usually at the root of every computer problem.
That’s not to say you and your employees are intentionally doing things to harm your network; in most cases, the damage is done innocently enough. But a virus’s effects are the same whether the download was intentional or purely by accident.
All of the above measures will go a long way in preventing problems; but we also recommend continually educating you and your staff on proper e-mail, Internet, and PC usage. Education is the best defense! We also recommend regular maintenance and monitoring of your critical data and systems so that IF a problem arises, it can be dealt with immediately and the damage minimized.
How Disaster-Proof Is YOUR Medical Practice Technology? FREE Security Audit Reveals The Truth
Hopefully this 2-Part article acted as an eye-opener to all practice owners who are not adequately protecting their data and computer network.
One of the biggest, costliest mistakes you can make is to ignore this advice with the false hope that such a disaster could never happen to you.
Because you have taken time to read this article, I would like to help you make sure your medical office management data, financial data and PHI entrusted to you is safe from harm by offering you a FREE Network Security Audit. Normally I charge $495 for this type of audit, but I’ll make room in my schedule to give away 5 of these to medical health care provider practices in Connecticut that are concerned about keeping their network and data safe.
During this audit I will come on-site and…
- Pinpoint any exposure or risk to potential lapses in security, data back-up, power outages, and system downtime.
- Review your system back-ups to make sure the data CAN be recovered in case of a disaster. You don’t want to discover that your back-ups were corrupt AFTER a major disaster wiped out your medical office network.
- Scan your network for hidden spyware and viruses that hackers “plant” in your network to steal information, deliver spam, and track your online activities.
- Outline a powerful and comprehensive line of defense against even the most evasive and deadly computer viruses, hackers, and spam for your specific network.
- Answer any questions you have about your network or keeping your medical office technology running problem free.
- Give you a second opinion on any projects you are considering.
Upon completion of this audit, we’ll give you a detailed report in plain English that outlines where you are at high risk for viruses, downtime, or other problems, and discuss what options you have for protecting yourself.
I hope this article was beneficial to you. We wish to always Safe Networking from all of us here at Computer Systems Support & Design! Return to Part 1 of "Protect your Medical Practice from Technology Disaster".
Call Johannes Banck, SBSC with any questions you might have. We are glad to help in securing your health care medical practice.
The Digital Medical Practice Improves Patient Care!
A office technology overhaul can save medical provider offices 20 to 30% in office expenses.
For more than 15 years a Fairfield County, Connecticut medical practice and member of the Fairfield County Medical Association with eight Physicians and three locations used virtually no digital communications to streamline operations in their medical practices. It lacked e-mail, no intranet, and no central repository for patient and business records.
In fact, patient appointments among the offices were coordinated by fax and patient records were hand carried. Staff wasted time hunting for records on their approximately 8,000 patients. Using transcription services, dictating records into Microsoft Word and errors from unreadable handwriting drove up costs. The medical practice used Outlook, but the e-mail files were scattered around various user workstations. Oversight and email retention was difficult to achieve if nonexistent. Occasional virus infections were a problem.
The practice wanted to cut costs, improve efficiencies, and improve patient care by migrating to electronic record keeping including scheduling, billing and reports with medical practice management software. Due to regulatory changes in eHealth the office also wanted to be ready for the new government incentives and regulations.
The Solution - A well-running Digital Medical Practice Implementation
To enable the offices to communicate, Computer Systems Support & Design recommended installing the Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) system in a wide-area-network as the central repository for all practice generated documents and to provide centralized authentication of users and backup.
Cisco wireless access points (WiFi) in each office provide wireless connectivity and a Cisco Security Appliance at the edge provides site-to-site VPN and protects the internal network from mal-ware and viruses.
This first implementation phase of a digital medical practice lasts several months and is used extensively for testing and customization. Once the networks perform satisfactorily, phase two of the digital medical practice project is ready to get underway. This phase calls for implementing EMR/EHR Software to manage medical records and a scheduling, billing and reporting system on all laptops and workstations. Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition lets doctors dictate exam notes that instantly become part of the patient's chart and speeds up billing.
The practice no longer needs to send snail -mail letters to referring Physicians, instead the system faxes those automatically once the exam is complete. Doctors can send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy saving time and potentially eliminating errors caused by messy handwriting. The system also flags prescriptions that might react badly with other medications the patient is taking.
Backups of the servers are scheduled every 30 minutes and are capable of being virtualized in case of a catastrophic loss of the server. Every 24 hours all data is replicated to offsite HIPAA compliant backup servers widely disbursed in data centers on the East and West Coasts. More about Backup and Disaster Recovery can be found at this link.
The Payoff of a Digital Medical Practice
With the new system and medical practice management software in place, staff members can communicate and view patients records free of all the hassles of physical paperwork. Co-ordination between Doctors, Technicians and Nurses is much more streamlined and saves the medical practice significant amount of money in the short-term. In the long-term the system automatically populates Electronic Medical Records and Medical Practice Management Systems. Managers can produce business reports that exam trends in billing and patient care.
The Practice benefits from improved record keeping, efficiency, and patient care. More recommended reading: How to Protect your Medical Practice from Technology Disaster - Part 1 The Risks
Don’t delay, call us now. We are excited to respond to your RFP.
Good Networking, Johannes Banck, SBSC
How to Protect your Medical Practice from Technology Disaster - Part 1 The Risks
Have you ever lost an hour of work on your computer?
Now imagine if you lost days or weeks of work – or imagine losing your patient Protected Health Information (PHI) records database, financial records, medical practice management system, and all of the work files your medical practice has ever produced or compiled. Protection of medical records is now increasingly enforced by the OCR and legislation has given HIPAA real “teeth”. So, data protection is not an option - it is a necessity.
Medical Office Technology provides significant benefits as reported by healthIT.gov
- 79% of providers report that with an EHR and practice management software their practice functions more efficiently
- 82% report that sending prescriptions electronically (e-prescribing) saves time
- 68% of providers see their EHR as an asset with recruiting physicians
- 75% receive lab results faster
- 70% report enhances in Protected Health Information (PHI) confidentiality
Imagine what would happen if the systems that support the above medical office productivity enhancements went down for days where staff couldn't access e-mail or the health information on their PCs. How frustrating would that be?
What if a major storm, flood, or fire destroyed your office and all of your files? Or if a virus wiped out your server… do you have an emergency disaster recovery plan in place that you feel confident in? How quickly do you think you could recover, if at all?
This Article Explains In Plain English What Every Physician, Dentist and Other Health Care Provider Must Know About Protecting Their Medical Practices.
Although the language may seem sensational or draconian, it is meant to provide you with the motivation to protect your Medical Office Technology, your Staff AND Patients from Medical Practice Technology Meltdown.
Part 2 covers today's biggest threats to your Medical Office Technology and Protected Health Information (PHI) Security... And simple, easy ways to PREVENT them from happening to your medical office technology.
A minority of medical practice owners tend to ignore or forget about taking steps to secure their Medical Office Technology from these types of catastrophes until disaster strikes. By then it’s too late and the damage is done.
5 Out Of 10 Medical Practices Will Experience A Major IT Disaster
After working with many small and mid-size businesses in Connecticut, we found that 5 out of 10 businesses will experience some type of major technology disaster. Disasters that will end up costing them between $4,000 to $30,000 in repairs and restoration costs. That doesn't even include lost productivity, medical billings, and patient goodwill that can be damaged when a practice can’t operate or fulfill on its promises to patients due to a downed network. HIPAA and HITECH laws govern now most of the data in a medical practice. Not following HIPAA now carries significant risks.
What’s most exasperating about this situation is that 100% of these Medical Practice Information Technology Disasters and restoration costs could have been completely avoided easily and relatively inexpensively. That’s why I decided to write this article.
I have found that medical practice owners have a limited understanding of the importance of regular preventative maintenance and disaster recovery planning because they are already swamped with more immediate day-to-day fires demanding their attention. If their network is working fine today, it goes to the bottom of the pile of things to worry about. Often, no one is watching to make sure the back-ups are viable and working, the virus protection is up-to-date, the workstations are patched, or that the Medical Office Technology is “healthy.”
99% Of Medical Practices Get “Too Busy” To Think About Network Security And Maintenance…I Strongly Caution Against This
Being ‘too busy’ to think about Medical Office Technology security is like saying you’re too busy driving your car on the highway to put your seat-belt on. Taking that simple preventative step doesn't really show its true value until you get into a collision; at that point you are either extremely relieved that you had it on or incredibly sorry that you didn't.
The same holds true with your computer network and Medical Practice Technology Disasters. Obviously the information on the hard drive is far more valuable than the hard drive itself. If the functioning of your medical practice depends on having access to the information stored on your server or PC, then it’s time to get serious about protecting it from damage or loss ether from man-made disasters, natural disasters or simple hard ware failure.
Why Medical Practices Are Especially Vulnerable To These Technology Disasters
The risks are high. Patients are more and more sensitive to Protected Health Information (PHI) security breaches and regulatory organizations have been gaining the "teeth" they need to vigorously enforce HIPAA, HITECH and the myriad of other health-care regulations.
With the constant changes to technology and daily development of new threats, it takes a highly-trained IT Tech Support technician to maintain even a simple 5 to 8 person network. The costs of hiring a full-time IT Tech Support person are just not feasible for the smaller medical practice owner.
Recognizing the benefits of outsourced IT Tech Support help, fewer and fewer try to do their own in-house IT Tech support. They rely less on a designated person with the most technical expertise or the office manager as the part-time IT Support manager for Medical Office Technology management. In-house support hardly ever works out because this make-shift IT Tech Support person has another full-time job to do. Perhaps she lacks the skills to properly support the entire medical practice technology.
This inevitably results in a network that is ill-maintained and unstable. It also means that the back-ups, virus updates, and security patches are not getting timely updates, or may even be set up improperly, giving a false sense of security.
It’s only a matter of time before the network crashes. If you’re lucky, it will only cost you a little downtime; but there’s always a chance you could end up like this company:
Medical Property Management Company Spends $9,000 And Weeks Of Downtime For A Simple Inexpensive Repair.
A 10-user property management company was not monitoring or maintaining their server. Due to the overuse and lack of maintenance, it started to degenerate and eventually crashed inexplicably. This caused their entire network to be down for two full days and cost them $3,000 in support fees to get them back up and running. Naturally the costs were much higher when you factor in the lost productivity of their 10 employees during that time.
This business did not want to implement a preventative IT Tech Support maintenance program, and the same problem happened again two months later, costing them another $3,000 and two days of downtime.
Had they been properly monitoring their network, they would have been able to see that these hard drives were failing and that the back-ups were not performing properly. This would have prevented the crash, the downtime, and the costs to get them back up and running, not to mention the days of lost productivity while their network was down.
Continue to Part 2 covering today's biggest threats to your Medical Office Technology and Protected Health Information (PHI) Security... And simple, easy ways to PREVENT them from happening to your medical practice.
9 Tools to Improve Medical Office Technology and Efficiency: Making Every Minute Count
Using proven techniques you can eliminate bottlenecks and waste in your medical office.
The exam rooms aren't stocked, You can't find the nurse when you need help, the check-in process takes too long, you''re behind schedule, and there's too much paperwork to complete. Sound familiar? These are all situations that raise the blood pressure of physicians. Often, they are symptoms of a larger medical office technology and workflow problems.
Fixing it requires that you review the symptoms, diagnose the problem and apply treatment, just as you do with your patients. This is where Computer Systems Support & Design helps you pull it all together into one coherent design, from your EMR/EHR system, e-mail, scanning and mobile technology. Call Johannes Banck, SBSC today for a second opinion!
Improving Medical Provider Office Efficiencies With The Right Technology
Every medical provider office strives to make its doctors, nurses, technicians and staff more efficient and productive. But without the right tools employees often struggle and do not live up to their best potential.
Following are 9 examples of medical office technologies and products we offer that individually or as part of a program will make medical offices run more smoothly and efficiently:
- Solving Problems Remotely: Remote PC management capabilities can help lower IT Tech Support services costs while providing a stable, up-to-date environment for delivering medical office functions. Management technology from Intel is a technology used to identify, diagnose and repair hardware and software problems remotely, minimizing downtime and allowing doctors and staff to focus on patient care. Built-in technology allows us to collect information and provide service, even if the computer is shut down or the OS is not functioning.
- Protect Patient Information: Enough has been written about HIPAA, HI-TECH and other regulations affecting the medical office. SpectorSoft’s Spector360 software is among those that help protect patient information, detect data loss and increase employee productivity. The software records website visited, e-mails sent and received, chats and instant messages, keystrokes typed, files transferred, documents printed and applications run. In addition, its unique surveillance-like camera-recording tool details what an employee does every step of the way.
- Access Medical Office Technology Remotely: Many health-care facilities have “spokes” that need to report into the main office. More and more medical offices implement VPN Solutions to facilitate staffers who want to securely work while away from the office or at a branch office. Fortinet’s edge appliances are one example of how to provide users with powerful encryption and a stable IPsec tunnel to comply with HIPAA regulations regarding off-network handling of patient names, conditions and other personal data. VPN, Remote Web Workplace, and SSL VPN can be implemented in the firewall or a server. Software-Based Solutions are implemented on the individual work stations.
- Archiving: Data-intensive image archiving, administration systems, and computer based patient records have increased the need for more Data Storage and recovery. Microsoft Storage Server is one solution designed for those challenges. It is an enterprise-class SAN appliance that significantly lowers capital expenditures, reduces storage management and administration time, provides continuous data availability and enables storage virtualization. It’s persistent hardware architecture and sophisticated software applications managed data at the block level, maximizing utilization, automating tiered storage, simplifying replication and speeding data recovery. The solution has been installed at New Jersey’s Princeton Radiology to improve speed, safety and accuracy of patient care.
- Backup Power: With UI and CLP frequently dropping power, health-care medical offices need to ensure they will not lose patient information due to power outages caused by blackouts, storm or even accidents. Backup power can be provided through batteries, or gas-powered generators. Each solution or a combination thereof can provide backup power from hours to days. The Liebert GXT2 is used in doctor’s offices that support the Hartford Hospital medical system.
- Data Capture: Anoto penDocuments lets paperwork seamlessly integrate with EMR or practice management systems, and can act as an entry-level medical record. Tablet PCs let users digitally capture handwriting and signatures into computer systems without scanning, faxing, that data entry. The system can be implemented in 3 days and doctors can fill out printed patient charts with the pen, upload the patient data into their systems immediately afterward and automatically verify that there is no missing information for coding and billing.
- Backup / Disaster Recovery /Business Continuity: Reliable and viable backup solutions for your medical office technology are a very important aspect for any health-care providers Business Continuity considerations. Our state of the art Backup and Disaster Recovery solution provided by DattoBackup delivers secure on-premise and remote automated backup, is transparent to the users, and does not require changing tapes. We consider it a winning situation that enables health-care medical offices to continue working even if the local office has become unusable. Virtualized services can be restored in the office within 30 minutes in the case of a server meltdown OR at a remote location in case of a disaster at the local office. Doctors can continue working with patient records from another location or home. We provide silent backups for servers, desktops, and laptops and use local de-duplication to lower bandwidth requirements.
- Wi-Fi: As your medical office expands the wired networking environment may become insufficient. One cost-effective way to expand the network and provide flexibility is Wi-Fi. Access-Points can be located throughout the medical office providing a gap-less Wi-Fi signal. Doctors and staff as well as patients and visitors benefit from the freedom to roam with their laptops, tablets or other portable devices such as Blackberries and iPhones. The network can be securely separated into visitor segments and internal-only segments.
- Upgrading Laptops to Solid-State Drives (SSD): An SSD is essentially an array of flash memory and a controller neatly packaged into a shell resembling a typical notebook hard drive. Solid state drives have many desirable characteristics that are worthy in many scenarios. They are many times faster than hard drives and let a Windows7 or 8 computer boot up 10 times a faster. With no moving parts like motors, solid-state-drives consume considerably less power than typical hard drives. In addition, they are virtually silent and generate almost no heat. That contributes to overall power savings, because it takes less equipment and electricity to cool the device. Although expensive, recent manufacturing advances provide a larger capacity at relatively lower prices. Admittedly, whether this demonstrable increase in speed and convenience is worthwhile is a business decision. See this link for more information about Intel's SSD drives.
Medical Office Technology Summary...
But while you know how to diagnose and treat your patients' problems, you may not always know how to diagnose and treat your medical office technology problems. The key is to employ proven quality improvement techniques used throughout the business world to increase efficiency and quality while decreasing costs.