The promise of IT in healthcare is to deliver opportunities for higher efficiencies and enhanced services. Unfortunately, outdated systems and resource constraints often limit organizations’ ability to take advantage of those opportunities. At the same time, the rapidly evolving healthcare industry— including regulatory and reimbursement changes, expansions of telehealth and API driven integration, and a surging cyberthreat environment—make IT’s role more important than ever. Following proven strategies helps even resource-constrained teams meet the organization’s immediate needs and prepare for the future.
While the cloud has been on healthcare IT teams’ radar for years, its role today can’t be underestimated. The cloud gives provider organizations a scalable, manageable platform that lets them to prepare for and respond to changes, scale quickly and strategically, implement robust security controls, and meet performance measures and compliance standards. This is true for healthcare delivery organizations of all types and sizes—from ambulatory practices and clinics to community health centers (CHCs) and large integrated networks—with remarkably similar successes.
Amid an ongoing trend toward migration to the cloud, COVID-19 brought the issues of operational efficiency and cost control to the forefront. Healthcare organizations worked hard to provide patient care in a way that is financially sustainable despite limited staff and resources. In a recent survey from Deloitte Consulting, almost 43% of respondents said COVID-19 accelerated their planned innovation projects.ii The pandemic also drove home the fact that resiliency, flexibility, and disaster recovery planning are more important than ever, as no one can anticipate what the future holds.
“With everything going on with COVID, it’s important that providers have the ability to get into the EHR and review documentation for patient health, whether it be telehealth or virtual visits,” says Armando Besné, senior manager of CIS at OptumCare Management, LLC. OptumCare Management uses cloud technology from MTS, and the company has benefited from having roles taken off its plate, including network teams, server teams, and security teams. “We can focus on delivering the best patient care and not worrying about our IT infrastructure,” Besné adds.
In addition, a performance dashboard allows OptumCare Management to monitor its environment in real time, plan for scalability, and fix issues before they become problems. As a result, OptumCare Management can provide better, faster care without the kind of technical issues that require providers to become IT troubleshooters.
Use of the cloud allows for a more cohesive IT approach, delivered in a way that maximizes resources while controlling expenditures, says Miguel Rodriguez, IT director at Arroyo Vista Family Health Center, a nonprofit network of community health centers in California and MTS client.
“Over the years, we found we were piece-mealing IT, and we recognized that wasn’t the best way to go forward,” he says. In particular, inefficiencies were creating a strain on the organization’s tight budget that relies mainly on grants.
Rodriguez notes that Arroyo Vista sees its partnership with MTS as “an extension of our help desk, and some of the expertise they have is much more than we could ever afford.”
Like Arroyo Vista, OptumCare also saw significant savings after moving a majority of its core systems to virtual servers and solid-state hard drives. “I was able to save $250,000 moving from a previous vendor to MTS, with a more robust, higher performing solution,” Besné said. “That in itself was a huge win for my organization. No longer do I need a network team, security team, server team, or identity access management team.”
The decisions by OptumCare Management and Arroyo Vista to embrace cloud technology now allow them to fully focus on providing care, not on wrangling technology, notes Chris Gooch, director of engineering for MTS.
Organizations that make this shift are able to run their infrastructure on enterprise-grade hardware they might not otherwise be able to afford, and they can move away from on-premises hardware that may become obsolete or need to be refreshed. Some MTS clients have seen up to a 35% increase in application performance by moving from a legacy installation or another cloud provider, Gooch says. This frees up time for providers to see more patients and to engage more effectively with those patients.
Additional care improvements come from better use of EHR data. Hosting EHRs in the cloud allows organizations to tap data analytics insights from population health information, patient engagement data, and other measures to improve care and boost revenue. Healthcare organizations that embrace the shift to more efficient cloud technology can give their providers the time, resources, and information they need to provide the best patient care possible.
With healthcare data under attack worldwide, IT teams can find themselves on the defensive around the clock. But the resources required to research, purchase, integrate, test, and train employees to follow the latest proven strategies to protect patient and practice data has become more than most organizations can support.
By moving to a HITRUST CSF-certified private or public cloud environment, organizations can be confident that their IT foundation meets their compliance requirements. HITRUST certification is the gold standard for information protection. It integrates more than 40 global security standards, including HIPAA and NIST, and encompass more than 400 ongoing controls and implementation requirements. HITRUST certification provides a solid foundation for fully managed IT security that incorporates proven state-of-the-industry detection, protection, and incident response technologies.
“Security is a big concern for all organizations, especially when you’re dealing with personal health information,” Besné says. “The HITRUST certification that MTS was able to provide made the security analysis and risk assessment that we have in place very easy. It gives me the confidence knowing that we have the best security in place to be able to give the providers and the patients peace of mind, knowing that their data is protected in that hosted environment.”
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how proven, scalable IT strategies can help improve care delivery and drive growth in your practice. We’re 100% focused on healthcare IT, so your organization can be 100% focused on the patients you serve.
Med Tech Solutions (MTS) creates technology systems that work the way healthcare practices work. Our Practice-Centered Care services use dedicated IT Care Teams to ensure that technology systems support essential clinical workflows. Provider organizations and networks get a secure, reliable IT infrastructure, optimized clinical and business applications, and full end-user support so they can focus on patient care. MTS was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Valencia, California. The company has been recognized as an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Company and a Channel Futures MSP 501 provider, and has achieved HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) certification for its cloud platform. Learn more at medtechsolutions.com.
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