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Choosing a Healthcare IT Service

January 16, 2012

If you continue to struggle with your EHR implementation, haven’t begun your EHR implementation, or have a qualified EHR implementation in place and just don’t have the staff time to properly manage it, you should certainly consider outsourcing these jobs to a qualified IT service.

A qualified IT service, however, isn’t just one that knows how to build and manage a network and install software.

With the dramatic increase in civil and criminal penalties and increased reporting responsibilities for data breaches, it is imperative that your IT service understand state and federal regulations for Protected Health Information, and their responsibilities as Business Associates under HIPAA and the HITECH Act.

You don’t want to face the public embarrassment of reporting to the media that you have lost sensitive patient data, not to mention potential civil penalties of up to $1.5 million, criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison, and the tangible and intangible costs of notifying all affected patients of the breaches.

The new rules make it imperative that you find a competent IT service that not only understands the technology but also understands the regulations in the HIPAA Privacy Rule, HIPAA Security Rule, and the HITECH Act. 

Even without the penalties, your IT consultant should be as concerned as you are with maintaining your patients’ privacy and security and improving patient care.

When choosing an IT service or consultant, look for one that:

  • Is fanatical about security and backups;
  • Understands the regulations in HIPAA, the HITECH Act, and state healthcare laws;
  • Is familiar with the deadlines for meeting the new healthcare regulations;
  • Understands and appreciates the consequences for data breaches;
  • Understands ambulatory care workflows and billing procedures;
  • Understands the disruption EHRs can cause in medical practices and the steps and processes that can mitigate the disruption;
  • Is willing to work the odd hours that physicians and their staffs work;
  • Demonstrates a willingness to continue their Healthcare IT education in this rapidly evolving field;
  • Can help you develop Acceptable Use Policies, Security Plans and Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans.
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