Healthcare providers have unique IT needs and challenges. First, there’s the need to ensure the stability and availability of their technology, which alone can be significant as providers expand their networks to include new capabilities like cloud computing, telehealth, and mobile devices. 

But beyond reliability and availability, healthcare is a highly regulated industry that’s under tremendous pressure from cybercriminals. Strict HIPAA and HITECH requirements, financial regulations like PCI-DSS, and a dramatic uptick in ransomware attacks have all made achieving stable and secure technology more difficult than most providers can manage internally.

The best way to meet those challenges — while streamlining your budgets and minimizing uncertainty — is to partner with a managed IT service provider (MSP) who has a track record of helping organizations in the healthcare industry meet their technology goals. 

Here’s how healthcare providers benefit from MSP partnership and some important qualities they should look for in a potential managed service partner. 

Streamline HIPAA and HITECH Compliance 

Any IT partner that specializes in working with healthcare organizations should have deep expertise in managing HIPAA and HITECH compliant systems. When interviewing potential vendors, inquire about not only their experience in this area but how they’ll adapt their processes to identify and address your unique compliance challenges.

Broadly, MSPs will group their HIPAA compliance solutions into three areas:

Risk Assessments

 Any effective HIPAA initiatives should start with a thorough risk assessment, during which the MSP analyzes your systems for compliance shortcomings and unaddressed cybersecurity vulnerabilities. This phase clarifies your compliance requirements, uncovers shortcomings, and provides a foundation for subsequent remediation. 

Remember, risk assessments are not a one-time effort. At the very minimum, the Complete Network team recommends conducting risk assessments annually, as well as reviewing and performing new assessments as new technologies are introduced or you’ve made significant staff changes.

Implementation of HIPAA Safeguards 

 HIPAA isn’t designed to provide universal requirements that apply equally in every situation. Instead, covered entities should be responsible for implementing the most appropriate controls for their unique needs and situation.  

That means adapting the three major forms of safeguards recognized by HIPAA, the technicalphysical, and administrative, to your unique needs. 

  • Technical Safeguards
    Centrally managed access controls, user authentication controls, and consistent encryption and decryption of electronically protected health information (ePHI) — along with rigorous security policies — fall into this category.
  • Administrative Safeguards
    More than half of the HIPAA full-text administrative safeguards include how providers handle risk analysis and management, detection and response, and other procedures for managing the selection and implementation of security standards.
  • Physical Safeguards
    Securing your office space and physical network components from tampering or infiltration, including the proper disposal of ePHI-containing devices, is a critical but often overlooked pillar of HIPAA compliance.

Having either a skilled internal team of compliance experts or a seasoned external technology partner to guide you three those phases is critical to ensuring those controls are implemented properly. Want to learn more? We’ve written a complete guide to HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA and HITECH Maintenance

 As any healthcare provider will understand, HIPAA and HITECH compliance are not one-time initiatives. Even a small network or software configuration can expose ePHI to unauthorized access, meaning that to stay compliant over the long term, providers must stay vigilant about monitoring and maintaining their systems.

A commonly used guideline for conducting risk assessments and bringing networks into compliance is the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework. Ensure any prospective technology partner has deep expertise in employing frameworks like NIST and SANS in healthcare settings to maximize the chance of finding a qualified partner. 

MSP Partnership Provides Long-Term Network Stability 

There are many other benefits to partnering with a managed IT services provider beyond just HIPAA and HITECH expertise. A qualified trusted MSP will act as a long-term partner to your executive team, helping them strategically fill gaps in your internal IT staff, provide targeted knowledge around critical technology initiatives, and ensure consistent support for your team.

Whether you’re looking for a fully outsourced IT support solution or a co-managed arrangement where the MSP works in coordination with your own IT team, the help of a qualified MSP will help you bring consistency to each of your IT management functions, including:

Network and Security Monitoring

 One of the major benefits of working with an MSP is the proactive support they’ll provide. Almost all MSPs will monitor the health of your network devices and traffic so they can locate inefficiencies or problems before they become a major concern. 

Network security monitoring, a capability that only MSPs with a mature cybersecurity offering provide, deepens the level of protection by adding specialized tools for security information and event management (SIEM) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), strengthening your compliance and security program with manned, 24-hour supervision. 

IT Service Desk

 The IT service desk is a centralized point of contact between the MSP and your network end-users that responds to and manages technical support requests. Working with a veteran MSP gives your staff 24/7 access to technicians who can diagnose and technology problems protect the integrity of ePHI while ensuring the efficiency of workflows across all your departments and teams.  

Unlimited Flat-Rate IT Support

 Unlike traditional models of providing IT support, MSPs provide a single bill that covers any amount of help desk, network monitoring, and onsite IT service. A consistent monthly fee for all IT management, along with a guarantee of service quality outlined in a service-level agreement (SLA), allows healthcare companies to eliminate the uncertainty of hourly IT consultants and achieve more predictable budgeting.

We encourage you to read more about MSP pricing here.

20 years of Healthcare Technology Specialization

For decades, the Complete Network team has been helping healthcare providers achieve confident control over their technology by providing senior technology consultants, HIPAA and compliance experts, and a knowledgeable, responsive help desk staff. 

To find out more, contact us in one of the four cities we serve:

Or contact us directly with your questions at 877-877-1840 or [email protected]. We look forward to speaking with you!

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.