February 26, 2019
Last week we asked you three questions about technology planning, training, and security/compliance as part of a technology self-assessment. If you’re jumping in now and wondering “what in the world is a technology assessment” be sure to look at our last blog.
No matter where your practice measured up when you answered those questions, there’s always room for improvement. Today, we’re digging deeper into those same three topics to let you know the advice that we give our clients each day. Simple changes to your technology strategy can make a big impact on achieving business goals.
We know you think about HIPAA compliance a lot the time. We think about it a lot, too. There’s no doubt that the use of technology puts data at an increased security risk, but that risk can be mitigated. The first step for security and compliance is to make sure that your practice has your Security Policy & Procedures documented and up to date. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) always likes to see a lot of documentation of polices for HIPAA compliance. So, this is a great place to start.
When speaking about security with your staff, remind them to use common sense. Don’t share passwords, log off computers, and challenge unfamiliar faces in private areas. These small actions are the biggest thing your team can do to protect private information.
Remind your team to be careful about what they send over email. For instance, do not to send Personal Health Information (PHI) via email. Sending PHI via email is a violation of HIPAA compliance and the incident would have to be reported to HHS. Most security breaches occur over email, both emails sent and received.
The best way to be able to use technology to improve productivity is to increase your staff’s comfort level with it. There are a few ways to go about training your staff. The first thing to consider is how to train new team members during orientation. A formal training process allows new staff to proactively enter the workflow without slowing down the day-to-day. Once you have outlined what that orientation training looks like, be sure to document the training so that it can be repeated for each new hire.
After considering new staff training, create ongoing technology training for the entire team. One of our clients has taken the idea of ongoing technology training and truly made it their own. They offer staff optional lunch and learns. Each time they bring in an expert to speak, this may be their technology partner, medical vendor, or someone in their office who is a subject matter expert.
Each lunch and learn allows the staff to become familiar with an area outside of their typical role, and it helps to improve processes – for example when we attended, we spoke about how to best communicate with them if something went wrong, and how staff could triage a situation to avoid unnecessary calls and help their bottom line. These trainings are incentivized with an internal reward system for attending!
Ongoing training doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should update the team on any changes to their workflow. It is also a good opportunity to expose your staff to areas outside of their traditional jobs. This helps with career development, and staff retention over time.
If you don’t have a technology plan or budget in place, the first step is to create both. A technology plan outlines a roadmap that aligns your future technology needs with your business goals. So, you’ll be able to understand what your practice might need this month, next month, and next year. It typically includes hardware, software, office moves, and any projected business growth.
Because there are so many moving parts to a technology plan, we recommend bringing in your IT partner to help make sure you’ve thought through it all. The plan doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Even if this is an educated guess, it will provide an expected budget. Proactively planning for large purchases, like computers, means that your practice will be able to prepare for the expense.
To take your technology plan to the next level, the important thing is to assess it regularly. Meeting with your IT partner quarterly allows you the flexibility to adjust the roadmap, if needed. Although adjustments may happen along the way, the overall goal is to stick as close to the roadmap as you can.
Creating a technology plan, updating security, and updating training puts your practice on a path to success. We’ve suggested a few action items above, implementing just one of those can have a huge impact on your business goals.
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.