Part One: Identifying Tech Challenges
Spectra Networks prides itself on providing technology services to small-to-medium businesses throughout Boston and the North Shore. Recently, we had the opportunity to work with a dedicated group of healthcare professionals at a local healthcare clinic. The administration of this healthcare facility (which will remain anonymous for this blog for the privacy of their patients) became familiar with our work with other healthcare and dental practices in our area. Our expertise and experience working with HIPAA compliance and regulations are what make us a good match for any business looking to upgrade and secure their systems in the healthcare industry.
This healthcare clinic, like most businesses, ensures that their clients are the focal point of their daily work – and rightfully so. The maintenance and installation of technology, therefore, came second to the needs of those with pressing health questions. When evaluating the challenges of this clinic we needed to take into consideration several key characteristics. First, this facility operates in multiple locations that need to communicate with each other in a secure manner. Second, there are several layers practitioners including doctors, nurses, and office personnel who will need to access data. In addition, the practice uses a wide variety of devices from desktops used in the main waiting areas to tablets and laptops used by the practitioners during physical exams. In order to improve efficiency, security, and relationships with outside health professionals such as labs and hospitals, the health clinic was in need of a number of technology upgrades and security overhauls.
After meeting the clinic’s administrators and discussing their unhappiness with the last IT company they contracted with, we set out to evaluate the needs of each office and the overall technology challenges they faced. Our goal was not just to take an inventory of hardware, software and tech issues, but to get to know the practice and see what would help them meet the needs of their clients while also maintaining HIPAA compliance and the most stringent security protocols available. Here are a few of the issues we found that needed to be addressed.
- HIPAA Compliance – First and foremost for healthcare facilities is the privacy and security of patient data. Therefore, we found that our first priority was to evaluate areas such as access to the internal network, email access, passwords, content filtering for employees, and protocols for non-company devices used by employees.
- Aging Equipment – Upon inspection of the tech in each practice, we found that aging equipment was a hurdle that we would need to overcome. For example, desktops and laptops were over five years old, servers were outdated at six years, and firewalls/switches/infrastructure were gauged to be over seven years old.
- Unreliable Networks and Wi-Fi – Staff had concerns about areas of the office that were not accessible to the network, or the Wi-Fi was spotty at best.
Working closely with the practitioners allowed us to hear their concerns about the inability to send encrypted emails or find secure access to work files. We took all of our findings and created a priority structured plan to implement all the changes they were hoping to see. Visit our blog next week to find out what changes we implemented to get this clinic operating more efficiently, within the regulations of HIPAA and in a way that allowed the doctors and nurses to do what they do best for their patients.