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.
As the internet has improved and cloud technologies have been more widely adopted, remote work has grown. Even now as we are pushing past the restrictions of the pandemic, so many of us are able to accomplish tasks from our homes. For this reason, remote desktop support has become increasingly important. Businesses want to ensure that their employees are safely accessing files and applications.
Remote Desktop from Microsoft is a very useful tool that your managed IT service provider can use to control your device from miles away. They can perform maintenance work, troubleshooting, and system configurations. Even if a small team of IT experts can deal with large amounts of employees through remote desktop support. That being said, your team also has to actively care about cybersecurity. Here are seven IT best practices that any business would benefit from following.
Don’t ignore software updates. You may see the notification on your device and decide that you’ll just deal with it later. Perhaps you even click that button that says to remind you. Yet, when “later” comes around, you forget about it or push it off again. Next thing you know, it’s been several days or weeks and you haven’t patched the issues that your device is at risk for. Failure to keep up with these updates could result in legacy systems running unsupported software. A major advantage of having a remote desktop support team behind you is that they can actually handle your patch management. They scan for vulnerabilities and deploy patches on your systems to keep things going smoothly.
Did you know that the average total cost of a ransomware breach is $4.62 million? IBM reported that this number doesn’t even include the cost of the ransom itself. Instead, it consists of escalation, notification, lost business, and response. Essentially, ransomware is more than capable of taking down your business, so you need to be careful with what you are sending and where. Even if your team is separated by oceans, you must have a way to communicate. There are countless messaging applications available, but not all of them will be as protective over your shared sensitive data. Remote desktop support experts recommend encrypting your sensitive data and correspondence. Make sure that the only people who can access your conversations are the ones who need to be able to.
We have all experienced the frustration of not remembering a password. There may have been a time when you kept trying to input a password, only to be locked out of your account due to suspicious activity. But that isn’t the only problem that we can face when it comes to passwords. Sometimes, it’s the passwords themselves. Just because you seemingly have the best password in the world doesn’t mean a cyber attacker won’t be able to figure it out and get into your accounts. This is why a best practice by remote desktop support providers is to use multi-factor authentication (MFA). It will serve as better protection if someone attempts a data breach because there is an extra step that must be taken on your end. Encourage your employees to use MFA across their accounts.
Our smartphones, tablets, and laptops store a significant amount of our day-to-day lives. If you are allowing your staff to use their personal mobile devices, they need to receive formal training from your managed IT service provider on how to use them properly. Not only will this help out in terms of keeping your business safe, but it will teach them security practices to take with them off the clock. We do recognize that it’s a challenge to ensure that devices are receiving the same level of security remotely as they are in the office. You can’t know what your employees are doing every second. However, if you provide company-owned devices, Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions could be very helpful. This way, your remote desktop support team is able to monitor and handle any issues that could arise with those devices. Remember that most data breaches are caused by insiders!
Shield your device from hacking incidents with another layer of protection. Firewalls can often be used on both software and hardware. They are network security devices that block traffic that isn’t supposed to enter your systems. Trusted destination addresses can be added so that your employees are able to access data from their homes. Pre-established rules about what kind of activity is suspicious lead to better attack prevention. You are also able to limit the users who log into Remote Desktop, thanks to the Windows Firewall. For those that are working with remote desktop support for their IT needs, contact them for assistance in setting up your administration accounts and lockout policy.
When you work remotely, you may not stick to your home office. There might be a coffee shop down the road that offers you a quiet place to get things done. You just have to grab your drink, connect to their Wi-Fi, and get started with your morning. The issue is that, once you connect to public Wi-Fi, you may not be secure. Something to be aware of is that, while free Wi-Fi is so desirable to consumers, it’s also desirable to cyberattackers. So, if you do end up in a situation where you need to use the internet in public, don’t access any important documentation. On the other hand, when you are working in the office, you still want to be sure that your network is secure. Let managed network service providers take care of it.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s necessary to point out. Physical security is just as important as cybersecurity. While the best choice is to not leave your devices out in the open, sometimes we have to step away from them. During that time, if left open, someone could gain access to your files. Have your employees enable automatic locking. That way, they don’t even have to think about it, should they forget to turn the device off. The shorter the amount of time it takes to lock, the safer it is. Some other IT practices that you should include in your business’s policy are using codes on all devices and limiting the number of attempts to get into them.
Where are your employees working from right now? No matter the answer, Texas Systems Group is capable of providing your business with remote desktop support that keeps everyone on track. Your success is our success. So, we want to hear from you! Get started with our cost-effective IT solutions, from anywhere in the world.
Everyone always talks about “the cloud.” But what is it, and what can it do for you as a healthcare practice? The cloud is a term that describes remote servers and the software and databases that reside on them. They are distributed over multiple locations. With cloud computing, your data can be stored in large volumes and managed on those servers. They offer flexible healthcare IT solutions to hospitals and freestanding emergency centers.
In terms of societal impact, no technology has achieved what cloud computing has. Today, it is a leading trend in digital transformation. By using cloud computing, the healthcare industry has experienced such a major shift in data management optimization. The doors were opened by the popularization of personalized medicine, which demanded better communication and forecasting. Let’s walk through five key ways that cloud computing can provide your practice with the healthcare IT solutions you need to streamline your workload.
Emergency care is available 24/7, which means your IT should be, as well. To provide services that are both efficient and safe, Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) is a necessity. In fact, at the base of every successfully-run organization that utilizes technology is a successfully-managed infrastructure. Whether or not you prioritize HIT could make or break your facility’s reputation. That is exactly why healthcare systems have continued to adopt more robust IT strategies. We are going to look deeper into why IT infrastructure management services will be the right fit for your freestanding emergency center’s (FEC) unique challenges.
Software license management can feel like a hassle, especially if you are dealing with several types of technology. It includes the processes and tools used to document the software you are using. Not only will it show which products those are, but also how they are being used. This means that you are going to have to ensure that you are complying with every end-user license agreement at all times.
For those using a provider, keeping up with contract renewals is a critical role that should be described in your managed IT service package. The streamlined process behind this is known as contract lifecycle management. Your organization can experience adverse effects if warranties and licenses aren’t responded to in a timely fashion. A good managed IT service provider won’t let you take that hit. Here are a few ways that renewal tracking improves the state of your organization.