March 12, 2019
Who deals with your practice’s technology hiccups? If we had to guess, we’d say it’s a business leader who wears multiple hats. Anything that comes up, any questions your staff has, they probably head straight to this Jack-of-all-trades for a quick solution. The struggle is, you probably didn’t hire this business leader to take care of technology needs, did you?
What if we were to tell you that your leader can have some of their day back? You can free up their time so that they can do the work they were intended to do, instead of fielding incessant technology questions about weird screens and missing data. How can you free up such a valuable internal resource? You can outsource your technology management.
Think of it like hiring a third party, someone outside of your company to handle certain business initiatives for you. You can outsource marketing, sales, accounting, anything that you may not have expertise for in-house. It allows for a better use of internal resources. You gain access to skills you wouldn’t otherwise have, and an overall reduction of costs.
While there are a few different ways to outsource your technology needs, we’re focusing on Managed Services. Our quick definition: hiring an IT company to take the burden off your staff’s shoulders. Their role can be as simple as keeping your printer on-line or as complex as managing your network and hardware infrastructure.
Obviously, finding the right partner isn’t a process to take lightly. There are a few things you might want to consider as you move to managed IT.
To make this new partnership work, there’s no way around it: you’re going to have to share your data. Yes, that includes patient data and personal health information. Be sure to take a good look at IT companies, their reputation in the industry, and any client references they provide.
Once you’re satisfied that things look good from the outside, dig a little deeper. Interview your potential IT partner. Ask them how they keep data safe and secure. IT companies will have their own policies and procedures they can reference to protect client data. If you’re able to establish that both your practice and the IT company place the same value on security, it’s safe to say your goals are aligned.
Let’s get real for a second. Medical practices have different needs than other industries, and it’s important to have a partner who understands those needs. There are certainly great IT companies, but if they don’t have medical expertise, they may not be the best fit. A partner who is proficient in the intricacies of Electronic Health Records (EHR) or correctly integrating your diagnostic equipment will impact how well your clinic will be able to function.
Trying to assess expertise? IT companies that specialize in the medical industry will offer a variety of services that affect government influences like HIPAA, MACRA and MIPS. That specialization can make all the difference in avoiding a negative financial impact to the practice.
Setting expectations is pretty much the first thing you learn in any successful business relationship, and IT is no different. Consider how important it is that your IT partner has a call center available at all hours, a specific turnaround time, or requirements surrounding how quickly an emergency ticket receives a response. If you’re both on the same page, the partnership should be smooth and successful.
A managed services partner will begin to feel as if they’re a part of your own team. You’ll have regular check-ins, status updates, and they’ll be a part of any large technical decisions. You’ll work closely together, so they should feel like a strong culture fit and a great resource.
We know what you’re thinking – how much does all this cost? The truth is, in the end, managed IT can save you money and help you avoid reactive costs (like running out to buy a server tomorrow because yours crashed today since no one was watching it). We’ll stay away from comparing costs to alternative options, because there isn’t a comparison. Instead of having one person on salary you’ll have a team of experts at your disposal.
So, what can you expect, cost-wise? The short answer is: a monthly recurring fee. The long answer is: it kind of depends on your needs. This should cover things like monitoring your hardware, data backups, patches, and anything else that you decide on.
You can also expect to take any of the guesswork out of your practice’s technology needs. This means that any upgrades or improvements will be mapped out in your technology strategy. Allowing you to budget for that new server or those 15 new workstations that all need to be replaced in the same year. Your IT partner will help you identify those needs and plan accordingly.
When making the switch to managed IT services it may seem like there’s a lot to consider. As long as you’re sure to vet your IT partner, understand their medical expertise, and communication style – you’ll be able to own the process and select a great IT partner for your practice. There’s nothing like the peace of mind of knowing that your technology needs will be taken care of quickly so that your practice can have minimal downtime and maximize your ability to serve your patients.
Becca comes to Systeem after earning her M.A. and M.B.A from Southern Methodist University. She has a passion for writing and sharing ways practices can find peace with technology.