The Real Value of Managed IT Services in Healthcare
January 16, 2018
When the American College of Surgeons (ACOS) in 1928 established the goal of improving the standards of records created in clinical settings, they officially started the healthcare information industry. At that time, no one could have imagined how Health Information Management (HIM) would evolve. As the industry grew, the complexity of the environments also expanded from simple analog record keeping to supporting the entire Continuum of Care in the Digital Age. Managed IT Services provide real value in today’s Healthcare Information Technology ecosystem by allowing Internal IT resources to be laser focused on next generation solutions.
Resources required to “support” internal IT functions in a 7x24x365 manner, are often costly and inefficient, specifically for organizations ranging in size from Critical Access Hospitals through Small Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs). These organizations struggle to provide necessary and REQUIRED levels of support for their clinicians using internal resources. As a result, many healthcare organizations choose “getting by” instead of providing the necessary resources. Services most impacted by resource constraints are:
- Data Security
- Service Desk / Clinical Support
- IT Vendor Management
Transitioning to Managed IT Services for these and other functions allows healthcare organizations’ IT teams to provide the Service Levels their clinicians and administrators require at a lower-cost and with higher effectiveness and security.
The Data Security Example
Hiring a qualified CISO to support today’s HIPAA, HITRUST, and other data security requirements is a complicated process requiring significant investment. To be done properly, the security team must be separate and distinct from other IT resources. Additionally, I personally believe there is a fundamental flaw in doing this internally:
How can a CISO who is responsible for only one organization possibly keep up with the latest threats when he/she only sees attacks to their organization and what is “published” (a.k.a. stale) data? The answer is, an internal CISO can’t.
The real value comes from using a well qualified Managed Services provider to provide the a CISO and other security services. The CISO role, when offered through a Managed Services provider, often scales to support five or six healthcare entities, which greatly increases the CISO security experience levels. The same is true for the Security Analysts and Engineers retained by qualified Managed Services providers. These experts are more specialized and scale more efficiently than those focused for a single organization or product suite.
Service Desk / Clinical Support
Many Healthcare IT organizations do not have the Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) tools necessary to track, benchmark, document, and manage their environments. Proper tools encompass the following:
- Incident Management
- Problem Management
- Change and Release Management
- Cost Management
- Request Management
- Configuration Management Database
- Asset Management
- Service Catalog
- Knowledge Management
- Survey and Assessment
- Service Level Management
Some tools have one or two of these components, but the area that is almost always lacking is Knowledge Management. Why? Internal resources often find a technical resource outside of the standard service structures to solve their problems. This practice often falls outside of the trackable mechanisms and incident resolution is not properly captured to prevent problem recurrence or educate the overall community (users or support).
When a Managed Services provider provides clinical support as part of the service desk, the focus on knowledge management is critical. The creation of the customer-specific Knowledge Management components allows most issues to be handled on the first call or escalated when necessary. Incidents are tracked and documented throughout the entire ITSM system. An experienced Managed Service organization often provides the ITSM tool as part of their solutions.
IT Infrastructure Management / Hosting done by client focused experts provides real value in the following ways:
- Eliminates the need for onsite data centers which take valuable space and usually have a higher cost of operations than facilities used by Managed Services providers.
- Operationalizes servers, storage, networking, and security components eliminating the need for large capital and depreciation schedules.
- Eliminates the technical debt of the infrastructure and/or support resources that otherwise would be challenging for an organization depending on size / budget.
By moving to a Managed Service provider for these “standards-based” components, the Healthcare organization’s IT resources can focus on clinical applications, the organization’s future needs, and growing the business through the use of new technologies and strategies.
David Reynolds is the President & CEO, ROI, Inc. For more information, please feel free to contact him at [email protected].