Everyone appreciates the need for data backup. Several methods are available in the marketplace, ranging from the DIY model using external hard drives that are manually swapped out to cloud-based methods where everything is automated. This part is easy. Two elements are often overlooked: One is testing the data backup. The other is data restoration. The only way to know your data is accurate is to do a test restore and verify completeness and accuracy. This should be done annually. Should the worst-case-scenario happen, where will you restore your backup? Think about the disruption to your business if you are down 2-3 days while waiting for a new server to be ordered, delivered, and configured. A better method is to use a backup service that also includes a temporary cloud server. This Disaster Recovery method not only protects your data, it also protects your business continuity in the days following a server failure.
Your focus is on growing the practice, not details like data backup. Remember, server failures can happen to anyone at anytime. Not being properly protected and/or losing 2-3 days of operational efficiency during a data restoration is a risk for all practices. Choose a solution that fully protects your data and your business continuity, and turn your focus back to growing the business.
Your focus should be on growing the business, not security. But you can’t leave a door open for a hacker. Essentials of a strong security program include annual Risk Assessments with a new, independent company every two years, documented action steps to close any identified security gaps, and a plan for ongoing patch management. Delegate to a Security Officer, and review entire program quarterly to be sure protective tasks are being performed.
Reactive IT is like an emergency department physician that doesn’t get paid unless there is an accident or acute health problem. Sometimes this is referred to as “break-fix IT support.” Reactive, “break-fix” IT providers are paid by the hour to come help when an IT problem is too complex for you to figure out on your own.
Proactive IT is like a dentist who is paid to prevent tooth decay from happening. Proactive IT constantly monitors computers and networks to correct small problems while they are small. The more network elements under the watch of a single provider, the better the outcome, the easier it is to manage business relationships.
Proactive IT looks ahead at your future IT needs. After all, you don’t just want a smooth running computer network today, you want it tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Just like computers have a life expectancy of 3-5 years, all network hardware has a similar lifespan and will need replacement. Some IT companies sell equipment, marking it up as much as 30% above MSRP. It is a challenge to balance maximizing the ROI on purchased hardware with the need to decrease risk by replacing equipment before it fails. Maintaining cashflow is crucial for business performance. Moving from a purchasing model to utilizing network hardware “As A Service” is a strong option for future planning and preserving cashflow year after year.
Proactive IT is a large element of success. After this, next is optimization of all all practice technologies to maximize EMR and communications uptime and speed. This includes evaluating internet speed and quality as well as redundant internet connections. Conduct high level reviews quarterly to look for negative trends.
It may not be necessary to bring computer support and VoIP services under the watch of one IT provider. Like medicine, technology is becoming increasingly specialized. It is very rare for Cardiologists and Neurosurgeons to be in the same practice. However, just as in critical care situations involving multiple specialists the hospital, team collaboration is necessary for optimal outcomes. For the highest success, a Virtual CIO should be informed of any and all practice decisions that impact practice software and/or network performance so that practice uptime is protected.
Technology can save money. Software that automates routine activities expands the capabilities of a practice without increasing staff overhead.
Here are two examples:
These tools are advantageous, but not inexpensive. They can optimize an already busy practice, but may not be cost effective for every situation.
With IT optimization in place, market leading large practices seek tools that will give them a competitive advantage. Any and all government and hospital initiatives should be evaluated. Software tools that aid in patient communication can increase the lifetime value of a patient. These tools can be the most expensive, but also give the greatest ROI.
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