HIPAA was put in place to set the safeguarding policies for Protected Health Information (PHI). The electronic copy of these records is known as ePHI. It includes our health status and treatments, as well as our billing matters, which include our contact information and identifying numbers. Essentially, the healthcare industry holds a wealth of valuable private data. This is precisely why it is a prime target for cybercriminals.
Freestanding emergency centers (FECs) need a managed service provider (MSP) that offers layered security solutions to combat this. That way, you can be prepared for when an attempted hack occurs, rather than just hoping it doesn’t. Check out these five ways that MSP services can take care of your IT problems before they become problems.
When you have a flaw in your system or network, it can be exploited by cyber attackers. They can steal and distribute or destroy your data. MSP services mitigate the chance of this happening by constantly monitoring and managing those systems and networks. For any type of organization, their work includes asset inventory management and vulnerability scans. But, when it comes to FECs, they also invest time in HIPAA assessments and policy management.
Your FEC is required to perform security risk analyses. These must consist of thorough and accurate reports of the potential vulnerabilities that your facility faces. This way, you see what needs to be done in order to mitigate the risks involving the confidentiality and integrity of your patients. Texas Systems Group partners with Cyber Trust Alliance to offer HIPAA solutions to our clients. Our MSP services include ongoing compliance support as we discover risks and guide your FEC through the process of creating a risk remediation plan.
Until you partner with MSP services, there is no guarantee that your IT infrastructure will be out of harm’s way. And this is a major problem considering how much you depend on technology for providing diagnoses and communicating. For that matter, your FEC relies heavily on the ability to provide care at all hours of the day. So, this would not be in your best interest. Having strategic guidance and planning sessions with security policy experts will keep your staff doing their jobs in a safe way. Examples of what MSP services recommend doing to protect your IT infrastructure include:
Because MSP services actively monitor your systems, they will be able to note any security events. These are changes in a network’s daily operations that can affect your FEC’s risk levels. They can happen daily, meaning the odds are that members of your staff will run into them often. Risk levels are classified as low, moderate, or high. The labels correspond to how confidential the data is that is being stored in your systems. They aren’t considered security incidents until consequences actually occur from the event itself. For instance, the event would be a phishing email being sent, while the incident would be a data breach.
Should a data breach happen, your IT service provider may find that ePHI has been exposed. You want your patients to feel comfortable with you. But that can’t happen if their ePHI isn’t actually protected. No matter the size of a facility, a healthcare provider must be able to implement multiple safeguards for that information. This can be accomplished with the help of the streamlined solutions laid out by your provider.
Endpoint isolation is critical to taking care of any threat. It is a cybersecurity technique that segregates devices from the rest of the network so that the threat won’t spread. Think of it like when you get sick and stay home from work. In which case, the immune systems of your colleagues won’t be compromised. From there, MSP services will be able to not only identify the threat, but also terminate it and clean up the mess it has caused. This is similar to when you go to the doctor and receive a prescription for the appropriate medication to cure your illness.
Companies that offer MSP services also participate in DNS monitoring. Essentially, this ensures the security of browser communication by preventing targeted attacks. DNS is popular among hackers. Two of their most common ways to capture ePHI include DNS poisoning and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Back in 2018, Boston Children’s Hospital endured a DDoS attack that disrupted them for approximately two weeks. It’s something your FEC must take seriously.
Make sure that your FEC has developed an incident response plan. Outline what the roles and responsibilities are for everyone involved. Being able to properly communicate these procedures from the beginning is necessary for their execution later on. Your MSP services team will help to design this, keeping in mind best practices for identifying and eliminating external threats. Should you end up getting breached, they will know how to expertly recover from it. This plan can be improved over time, in accordance with expanding hacking abilities and your needs.
Data theft has the potential to result in increased patient fatalities. Those people are depending on you. So, you need to have an IT service provider that you can trust to get everything back online quickly. Your data backups, both for server and email data, have to be successful and recoverable. Providers will take care to form a routine backup procedure to protect against loss.
Don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to security. That includes making sure that your own team is well-trained. If they don’t know how to properly handle your FEC’s IT, it can result in trouble down the road. After all, it isn’t just your MSP services team that will be using the technology. Cybersecurity problems can arise from those closest to you making a mistake. Your provider will assist you in the security awareness training process by sharing their skills and knowledge.
Something to note is that annual training courses are the most common way to go about this process. However, it has been found that participants are less likely to remember the information at that interval. IT professionals recommend, instead, refreshing them on cybersecurity efforts every four to six months. The less training your FEC invests in, the more likely your staff is to be exploited.
Texas Systems Group has been providing MSP services since 2002. Today, our team delivers seamless IT support for FECs across eight states. We can help build your facility from the ground up, or we can integrate our expert IT solutions into your existing infrastructure. Send us a message to get started with a support team that will operate with professionalism and integrity at every level.
New patches are released every day. Otherwise known as software and operating system updates, patches are an integral part of your cybersecurity strategy. This is on account of cyber attackers being all too aware of when those patches are released. If you don’t take care of things quickly, they will be able to identify the vulnerability that exists and target it. It could mean a major data breach for your startup.
In a report by ServiceNow, it was found that 60% of victims claimed their lack of patching was the reason why they were breached. To get around this, businesses invest in managed IT service providers who perform patch management. The provider constantly monitors for security bugs and applies the updates accordingly so that you don’t have to. Let’s consider how you can succeed with IT services for startups.
Harmful malware attacks take advantage of software vulnerabilities. Hackers lie in wait for someone to not do what they are supposed to do. This could come in the form of a social engineering attack, such as a phishing email that an employee accidentally clicked on. But it can also just be that they turned a blind eye to the update that was more crucial than they expected. Think about the times when you have noticed that your smartphone requested a software update. Did you just let it sit in your settings for a few days? Doing this, across any of your devices, can mean that you are missing out on an added layer of protection. This is why professionals who perform IT services for startups recommend patching any security flaws as soon as possible.
Unsatisfied clients shouldn’t be at the top of your list of accomplishments. They are going to expect high-performing systems so that they can have confidence in your brand. As frustrating as it will be for your team to experience downtime, it will be just as upsetting for them. This will be especially true if, during that downtime, hackers get to the data you are storing. Note that having lots of system downtime is a result of poor monitoring. IT services for startups will take this on in a proactive approach by keeping an eye on your tech 24/7. Doing this allows them to be aware of exactly when new vulnerabilities arise. Considering they follow best IT practices with software deployments, they will be responsible for eliminating points of failure and improving the health of your systems.
Every compliance framework is different. The most common ones consist of SOC 1, SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. Unfortunately, they can be quite complicated to understand. For those that don’t have a background in compliance, IT services for startups can certainly make a difference. These frameworks provide guidelines for businesses to incorporate into their IT efforts, specifically in regard to cybersecurity. Have a discussion with your provider about which framework—or frameworks—will be the best for your startup. Given that they will have worked with similar businesses in the past, they know what appropriately ties in with the services you provide. From there, their professional guidance will carry over into patch management and their other tasks related to your systems.
In order to have a mature security framework, startups need to have a solid patch management process. This will get you the most out of your software. Areas that are going to need patching consist of applications, operating systems, and embedded systems. With continued product innovation, your team will experience better features and functionality that will lead to your success. To keep your tech and data secure, IT services for startups will take care of three things.
Some software isn’t compatible with automation, and not every application is created the same. However, for operating systems that have been thoroughly vetted, it can be a great option for patch management. Scheduling timely patch deployments enhances endpoint security. It decreases the amount of time between the release of the patch and its application, earning time back for the person who would have otherwise been manually having to do it for every device. Automation has the ability to integrate with your network, infrastructure, and configurations. IT services for startups take a holistic approach to automation in order to reduce errors and increase productivity.
As we know, your technological weaknesses are what allow hackers to compromise your startup. Vulnerability management is ongoing and proactive. It involves identifying the vulnerabilities to your IT infrastructure, as well as evaluating and treating them. Scans will be performed both internally and externally to ensure there are no holes in your defenses. With threats constantly changing, your startup cannot afford to neglect to scan for possible gaps in your systems. It only takes a single instant for an exploit to be taken advantage of. So, if your IT service provider is only scanning on a weekly, or even monthly, basis, they aren’t doing what they need to be doing.
Make sure that your startup has designed a policy to execute the recovery of your data, should you end up getting breached. Everyone on your team needs to be aware of what actions to take. IT services for startups should run a risk assessment and business impact analysis. From there, they can help you come up with a disaster recovery plan that details your IT inventory, backup and restoration procedures, and personnel. Keep in mind, though, that it doesn’t matter whether an incident was an accident or intentional. Data loss can seriously affect how clients perceive you. They may never want to do business with you again because they won’t feel that their sensitive information is safe in your hands.
Come have a chat with a member of the team at TXSG. We provide expert insight at all hours of the day and IT services for startups that can accommodate your growth. Don’t just wait for something to go wrong with your tech. Implement our cost-effective solutions into your business strategy, and watch as we take care of issues before they even become issues.
Organizations across industry types benefit from the use of information technology. Being able to communicate and share files has never been easier. That being said, IT can also be your downfall if not handled properly. When cyber attackers get their hands on your and or your clients’ data, it can be bad news for your reputation. Your team needs to invest the extra effort in encrypting data, both in transit and in storage. But you certainly don’t have to do this alone. It might be time for you to partner with a managed network services provider.
We live in a highly competitive business landscape, so you can’t simply have an adequate network. If that’s the case, you aren’t achieving your full potential when it comes to productivity and usability. Your network needs to be optimized in order to function at peak performance. Network optimization is an ongoing process that involves managed network services providers monitoring it and making sure that it stays at the desired level of performance. This will mean that all services and systems are reliable, at any hour of the day. Regardless of whether your employees work 24/7 or five days a week, you need your network to stay live. With your provider being on top of anything that could threaten that uptime, you can rest easy at night.
Just because you think you are safe on your network doesn’t mean that you are. For those that don’t actively monitor their networks, you could be blind to suspicious traffic. This traffic could quickly turn into a costly problem, seeing as how the average data breach costs $4.24 million. The average ransomware breach, specifically, costs $4.62 million. Don’t risk it. Managed network services providers are available to keep organizations of any size, in any industry, secure. Unlike with break/fix services, you don’t have to wait until something goes wrong before you hire them. Instead, you can benefit from their responsible work ethic all year round. Consider making them part of your team if you are interested in growing strategically, lack effective security policies, or aren’t getting the most out of your current IT staff.
The goal of network security is to keep your organization away from threats, that can massively disrupt your productivity and damage your reputation. To come across as legitimate and trustworthy, adopting a robust security architecture is your best bet. These are four protections that managed network services providers will take.
Only the people who are supposed to have access to a system should be able to get into the system. This is the principle that access control follows. Access control depends on authentication and authorization of credentials and IP addresses to limit the number of users. By paying attention to the source, it combats potential cyberattacks. Today, it’s an important component of the zero trust model, which businesses are leaning further into as their application use expands. As the name implies, you aren’t to trust any user right off the bat. Zero trust is a framework that continuously validates users, combining robust cloud workload technology with identity protection.
Managed network services providers are able to monitor for malicious activity. An intrusion prevention system is a tool that does this, as well as takes action to prevent the activity from happening. They are able to block or report the suspicious user. The two primary ways it goes about this are signature-based detection and statistical anomaly-based detection. Signature-based detection uses identifiable patterns within the code of an exploit. Later on, it will be able to find matches or similarities in the traffic stream. Statistical anomaly-based detection, on the other hand, involves the random sampling of network traffic. It then compares the samples against the baseline performance to determine whether an action should be taken.
Only work on Wi-Fi that you are sure is secure. There are major differences between public and private Wi-Fi, in terms of data protection. Your organization may decide that you want to provide access to both, in which case you would need to separate them. Whatever the case may be, if you want to have more control over your network traffic, segmentation is the way to go. This technique divides a network into sub-networks to make them more manageable. The reason why managed network services providers do this is that your cybersecurity efforts are only as strong as the weakest link. Should a hacker make their way into one of the sub-networks, they won’t be able to gain access to all of your sensitive information.
Between 2019 and 2020, phishing incidents rose by 110%. These are emails that appear to be from a reputable source but are actually targeting your personal information. When an employee attempts to access something from that email, such as a link, they are in for a world of trouble. Once they are met with malware, those that don’t have the right cybersecurity measures in place across their systems will take a hit. Your organization needs to have procedures for how the team conducts themselves over email, if you don’t want to end up in this situation. Traditional approaches include email encryption, spam filtering, and login security.
The modern network is incredibly complex. Businesses of all types have been forced to act accordingly to the growth and adoption of the cloud. However, with the right technologies and support system, it can be easy to manage. Here are four things that managed network services providers are mindful of.
There are regulatory requirements for a reason. As more and more security threats occur toward network resources, you need to keep your industry-specific compliance policies in check. Two major ones include HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). HIPAA sets the standards for protected health information (PHI). It reduces fraud and abuse within the healthcare industry through mandates on electronic processes and the handling of PHI. PCI DSS does a similar thing for credit card information. In order to maintain a secure environment for transactions, it ensures that the cardholder’s data is protected as it moves through multiple channels.
For many businesses, it’s the case that employees are allowed to use their personal devices. This includes their smartphones and laptops. But something that you must keep in mind is that you aren’t going to be able to trust every device that attempts to connect with your network. Managed network services providers need to keep track of them all, even those that the company doesn’t own. Manual device tracking is time-consuming, so they can achieve this by using a network device tracking tool that automatically discovers and maps them. They can see which ports the devices are connected to, and determine where the root of an issue is.
All organizations need consistency and efficiency. If you want to be able to measure your performance and stay on top of your organization’s competitors, you need repeatable processes. This makes it easier for managed network services providers to determine whether they are meeting your agreed-upon goals. Without repeatability, there isn’t a constant to compare against and you could be at a higher risk for vulnerabilities. To harden your network against cyber attackers, every quarter, the members of your team should have a discussion with your provider to discuss ongoing needs. Based on their experience with you in recent months, they will be able to give recommendations to improve your business processes.
It’s highly unlikely that your organization is going to stay at the exact same level of productivity for several years. Managed network services providers won’t let you down even if you have a big spike in business. They will have done sufficient planning to give you the right processes and tools. So, while they are maintaining your network resources, they are also keeping in mind how they need to scale according to your business growth. After all, this scalability is necessary for their own tasks. Your work goes hand-in-hand. That is precisely why you should regularly take a look at and update your service level agreement.
You may believe that you have been safe without a managed network services provider. While that could be the case, having your data protected now doesn’t mean it always will be. Keeping someone at your side who proactively works against the growing abilities of hackers ensures that your organization will be secure for many years to come. Texas Systems Group is able to provide this sense of peace for healthcare practices, small businesses, and non-profit organizations alike. Have a talk with our team to learn more about what we can offer.
When the concept of urgent care began, it was a suburban phenomenon. Despite it still being a relatively new undertaking, the expansion of the healthcare industry has drastically increased the number of urgent care options and changed how they run. However, it continues to be the case that these facilities are located primarily in the suburbs and large cities.
Small cities deserve to have the same level of attention and quality of service that anyone else in the country does. This is precisely why directing our attention toward freestanding emergency centers (FECs) is so vital. To ensure that they can remain up and running for entire 24-hour periods, investing in IT support cannot be overlooked. Consider how managed IT service providers can improve the overall performance of an FEC or Microhospital.
Generally speaking, managed IT service providers in smaller cities don’t specialize in a specific industry. This is because it limits their client pool. In order to accommodate more local facilities, they provide basic and scalable support that will fit the facility’s needs. Of course, a big part of this is guaranteeing that their IT infrastructure has no downtime. Systems need to work fast, both in terms of treating critically ill patients and allowing for rapid staff transitions. Good managed IT service providers will be available for on-demand services at all hours of the day in case something goes wrong. That being said, their proactive approach to monitoring will mitigate the chances of disruption due to technology, to begin with. Other key support elements that should be provided include backup solutions, workstation tools, and network maintenance.
The healthcare industry has undergone a massive transformation in terms of technology. One advancement that has been especially beneficial in the modern age has been remote capabilities. Not only has this helped healthcare providers to more efficiently communicate with their patients, but it has helped IT teams be able to manage their systems from miles away. Managed IT service providers are well-equipped to serve clients remotely, on account of their experience with remote desktop support and cybersecurity best practices. So, FECs don’t have to only choose from local IT support companies alone. At Texas Systems Group, we offer services at a national level. Even if an emergency care facility is located in Arizona or Arkansas, for example, they can partner with managed IT service providers in Texas.
Hardware can be preconfigured and then shipped to an FEC or Microhopsital. Or else, it can be drop-shipped and remotely configured. All the FEC staff needs to do is plug it in and get to work. With that in mind, managed IT service providers take away the staff’s burden of having to deal with IT vendor management themselves. They have established vendor relationships, as well as have a strong understanding of healthcare technology. This makes them an excellent candidate to be the single point of contact. As an FEC or Microhopsital in a small city, this gives greater access to upgraded technologies, at a lower cost. This is due to managed IT service providers bundling the latest and greatest tech with the rest of their support services. Having the right hardware and software in an FEC is vital because the goal should always be providing excellent patient care and management.
There are several problems that emergency centers can potentially face. Data breaches due to unauthorized access are one of them. Memorial Village Emergency Room in Houston, Texas was hacked in February 2022. As many as 80,000 individuals had their private information exposed. Similar stories have occurred across the country, demanding healthcare facilities to enhance their security efforts. Managed IT service providers should have the expertise to set an FEC or Microhopsital up for success from the beginning, as well as be able to maintain its HIPAA-compliancy over time. To keep an FEC in a small city away from the threats of cyberattackers, managed IT service providers will take the time to train staff members. End-user education on how to handle technology and respond to incidents is just as necessary as patient treatment.
Patients across the United States are leaning toward FECs instead of hospital emergency rooms. When they have the technology to back them up, they are convenient and efficient lifesavers. That means it’s all about locating competent IT support teams. FECs and Microhospitals have unique IT needs that set them apart from other healthcare practices. Managed IT service providers like TXSG are able to provide them with systems that keep their efforts seamless. Come have a talk with a member of our team to learn more about what we do for your remote FEC.
The healthcare industry in the United States has made great strides to get where we are today. In fact, facilities are relying more and more on information technology and big data. Because of this, our treatments and ways of communicating with health professionals have vastly improved. However, with millions of dollars going into tech investments, this should also mean that practices are actively protecting the private information of their patients.
If a practice were to ignore the need for healthcare IT services, they could find themselves at a much greater risk of cyberattacks. Data breaches could bring about lawsuits from patients, as well as fines from the government for not following regulatory standards. But how did we get to this point, where IT has become so critical to our healthcare operations? Walk with us through the past 100 years to see the journey of the industry.
Before we had Electronic Health Records (EHRs) like we have today, Health Information Management (HIM) began with just the idea of documenting patient care. It would go on to be foundational for healthcare IT services. With the early version of medical records, all of the details could be laid out for physicians and patients to determine any treatment outcomes for illnesses, injuries, and disorders. This quickly gained popularity across the country’s healthcare practices. People recognized what an integral part of the patient experience documentation is, for both quality and safety of care.
But, following World War I, the cost of healthcare was on the rise. Many patients weren’t able to afford it. Despite the new non-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, it was expected that prices would only continue to increase. With the Great Depression going on in the United States in the background, this was seen as especially problematic. This is precisely why the Social Security Act of 1935 was enacted. It became the first public financial support system for the elderly and disabled, as well as surviving families.
Great milestones were being achieved in health information technology. It included magnetic resonance, which was the principle behind MRI machines. This is a non-invasive technology that provides detailed images of structures within the body. Although the first machine would not be built during this timeframe, modern healthcare IT services would be set up by this accomplishment. Vendors and providers must regularly monitor and manage medical imaging technologies. Other medical breakthroughs during this span consisted of kidney dialysis machines, cardiac pacemakers, and fetal ultrasounds.
There also came work in healthcare informatics, otherwise known as the use of computer and information sciences in the healthcare industry. This is a range of professional scientific studies, including bio-engineering and clinical documentation. In 1958, the International Society of Cybernetic Medicine was founded to focus efforts on exactly this. Medical cybernetics is an interdisciplinary approach that works with information and communication technologies. It has influenced healthcare IT services by recognizing the hybridity of technological and human systems, which is key to the industry today. It wouldn’t be until 1964 that the United States created its own organization for the advancement of cybernetics—the American Society for Cybernetics.
Technological innovations resulted in paper records gradually being pushed away from the forefront of healthcare. After a long history leading up to the invention of the modern computer, developments encouraged the link between computers and medical records. In their current state, computers were found to be a faster way to document and capable of servicing multiple users. Ultimately, they became more accessible. Interest in computers continued to increase, not just in the healthcare industry, but in the world at large. The 1970s showed two types of computers. One was a large, costly build, while the other was mass-produced for personal use.
Computers within the healthcare industry were first quite restricted in terms of their records. Known as Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), these digital representations of a patient’s medical and treatment history could only be held at one facility at a time. This arguably made them not much better than paper, which may have been the reason why so many physicians weren’t buying into EMRs. That being said, they did allow for easier access to data tracking over time so that physicians could better keep up with their current patients.
The expansion of healthcare informatics continued with strides in software development. Early EHR software rose in the 1980s because healthcare leaders became interested in the widespread use of Protected Health Information (PHI). They wanted to be able to share the information to better coordinate treatments. Initially called clinical information systems, EHR software would be the next step in improving productivity and reliability across practices. While it wasn’t immediately widely adopted, it did make moves towards being more available and affordable. It would go on to be recommended across practices by medical professionals and healthcare IT services alike. They are beneficial in that they provide accurate and complete information about patients to the point of care.
You may not remember a time when privacy standards were expected to be met. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) wasn’t signed until 1996. This federal law went hand-in-hand with medical records because it guaranteed that PHI was, in fact, protected. Its rules cover healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates. Without an individual’s authorization, their sensitive data will not be disclosed. Healthcare IT services are expected to fall in line with these standards.
It has become critical to have full transparency between a patient and their physician. This was seen to be achievable with the use of advanced technology. Finding a viable EHR system became a major concern during George W. Bush’s presidency. His goal was for all healthcare practices to adopt EHRs. The intention behind this was to simultaneously enhance care and avoid dangerous mistakes. From the perspective of the patient, they would also be able to make better decisions for themselves. Under Barack Obama’s presidency, physicians were incentivized to make EHRs their primary way to store and share data. Now, healthcare IT services expect this of the facilities they work with so that they can better help with cybersecurity and compliance.
However, something to be aware of is that, as medicine was transforming, the dark web was growing alongside it. More doors were opened up for criminals to take information from vulnerable populations. In the past couple of decades, it has become necessary for healthcare IT services to keep an eye on the dark web. That way, they can determine if anyone has already got their hands on a facility’s PHI. Even if you feel that your data is safe, you could be at risk. To mitigate that risk, providers also train healthcare staff with best practices so that they know to be careful every step of the way.
Is your lack of IT support affecting your patient care? With the expert healthcare IT services at Texas Systems Group, that never has to be a problem. For over 20 years, we have proved that we will keep your data protected and your systems running smoothly. Today, we are the #1 managed service provider for freestanding emergency centers. Our work includes notable facilities like Athena, AdvancedMD, Greenway, and many more. No matter where you are in the country, contact our team to start improving your healthcare practice’s IT infrastructure.