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6 Reasons Why Managed IT is Critical for Healthcare
Healthcare IT departments need to uphold robust IT maintenance and cybersecurity procedures the way clinicians need to perform extensive sanitation practices. However, the bandwidth and expertise it requires to maintain and monitor IT infrastructure 24/7 is far more complex than handwashing. Partnering with a managed service provider is a critical advantage for health IT teams, who are frequently understaffed and overworked.
Here are six reasons why Managed IT definitively impacts clinical workflow, costs, and patient satisfaction.
Health information technology (HIT) interoperability, or the seamless exchange of patient health data, can improve clinical workflow, promote patient-centered care, and reduce healthcare costs by an estimated $30 billion. The healthcare industry has made strides towards HIT interoperability in recent years, but the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for more progress. In Medscape’s 2021 Physician Burnout Report, 58% of physicians reported that completing too many bureaucratic tasks was one of the most common contributing factors to burnout. One study found that physicians spend over 10 hours a week entering information. The automatic availability of patient data from across systems and applications could not only lessen administrative tasks and reduce potential for physician burnout, but also decrease medical errors, which according to one study, account for 9.5% of deaths in the United States. With 1.4 million unfilled computer science jobs in 2020, a managed service provider supplies the IT expertise a healthcare organization needs to keep electronic health records (EHRs) available and secure for timely decision-making.
Telehealth comprised over 30% of total outpatient visits during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Almost 80% of patients believe telemedicine is more convenient to schedule, and 77% of physicians say telehealth is a more efficient use of their time. Cloud-based telehealth improves clinical workflow and patient satisfaction, and its use will only increase. Healthcare organizations must maintain a robust IT infrastructure to keep up with telemedicine demands. Medical providers estimate that their telehealth solutions fail 15% of the time. With network operations centers (NOCs) in various locations and co-located datacenters, a managed service provider assesses, upgrades, and maintains IT infrastructure and cloud platforms. Managed IT services ensure a medical facility has the newest equipment and latest software patches so that virtual patient visits proceed without a glitch.
Cyberattacks have pelted healthcare institutions since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, over 26 million people had their protected health information (PHI) exposed in 599 security breaches—a 55% increase since 2019. Hacking and IT incidents led to 67% of healthcare security breaches and were the largest driver of compromised PHI at 91%. Additionally, the cost of a data breach increased from $429 to $499, resulting in a $13.2 billion loss for healthcare organizations. Medical providers can hire an MSP to proactively identify and resolve vulnerabilities, vigilantly monitor critical systems and components for potential risks or threats, and quickly respond to incidents following prepared procedures. As an external partner, an MSP has the expertise and bandwidth to provide health institutions real-time monitoring via their 24/7/365 fully-equipped Security Operations Center (SOC). Security awareness training educates clinicians on social engineering attacks that would otherwise expose PHI. An MSP also offers customized alerting and applies a complete incident response strategy to contain and eradicate breaches. Managed IT handles the cyber threats so medical providers can focus on the health threats.
In 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received $13,554,900 to resolve 19 cases of HIPAA violation. Eleven of the violations obstructed HIPAA Right of Access, and the penalties ranged from $3,500 to $160,000. Meanwhile, five out of the eight noncompliance violations were fined over $1 million, the highest amounting to $6.8 million. The amount of global healthcare data and cyberattacks on said data are ever-increasing. Projected healthcare data grew from 153 exabytes in 2013 to 2,314 exabytes in 2020. Strapped for specialized IT expertise and pressed for more advanced technology solutions, healthcare IT departments are working overtime to meet demands. An MSP can augment healthcare IT departments to relieve pressure and ensure that EHRs and PHI are shared and protected through HIPAA-compliant systems. A managed service provider executes HIPAA compliance assessments throughout the health institution’s systems and infrastructure to identify potential risks and improve cybersecurity against costly data breaches and their ensuing violation fines.
A 2017 study found that administrative tasks comprised 34.2% of health costs in the United States, which spent $2,497 per capita—4.5x the $551 Canada spends per person. Meanwhile, 59% of healthcare CIOs reported operating cost pressures and 41% conceded insufficient funding in an early 2020 report from Gartner. Additionally, the financial impacts of health IT downtime can range from $7,000 to $17,000 per minute, according to the Sixth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data report from Ponemon Institute. Healthcare organizations can reduce downtime and variable IT expenses with a managed IT plan. MSPs offer customizable, cost-effective options for a predictable, fixed monthly fee that will not increase, no matter the month’s latest IT incident.
6. Patient Experience
The patient experience is everything in the healthcare industry. System downtime can prevent physicians from accessing EHRs, delay patients’ test results, or postpone their medical treatments. In 2014, 96% of surveyed healthcare organizations reported at least one unplanned downtime in the previous three years, and 70% had a downtime lasting eight or more hours. Downtime from a security threat can cost revenue, HIPAA violation fines, and even loyal patients. In a Software Advice survey, 54% of patients said they would switch medical providers after a data breach. But it is not just the medical institution’s reputation at stake. A high patient satisfaction score on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey also impacts how much a healthcare organization receives from Medicare.
The timeliness of interoperability and telehealth and the protection of cybersecurity measures and compliance standards all influence patient experience. A 2017 study found that strong incident management procedures in the event of downtime increased response outcomes and end-user experiences from 57% to 86%. A managed service provider upgrades health IT infrastructure with the latest equipment and software patches, monitors systems 24/7/365 for cyber threats, and implements effective incident response strategies to decrease interrupted patient care and increase patient satisfaction.
As an award-winning managed service provider, NexusTek has worked with healthcare organizations across the U.S. and understands their specific needs. Knowledgeable in HIPAA compliance, our IT professionals harbor the healthcare IT expertise to augment a medical facility’s IT department. We assess a medical provider’s systems for vulnerabilities and noncompliance and implement robust IT maintenance and monitoring practices to ensure uptime and uninterrupted patient care. Our 24/7/365 NOCs and SOCs understand time is a matter of life and death and are at the ready to support a hospital’s needs at any hour of the day. For a fixed monthly fee, your healthcare IT could be better with NexusTek.