IT considerations for the medical industry
In healthcare, data is all-important. Managing patient records efficiently and responsibly is up there with having a compassionate bedside manner and being properly qualified to care for people.
Technicians and administrative staff are dealing with highly sensitive personal info, pathology, digitised X-rays, complex test results and MRI images.
Not only do these records (legally) need to be secure, they must also be quick and easy to access and update by multiple users. Careful IT planning and implementation is required for sustainable, secure systems that are also user-friendly.
From an IT services standpoint, there are 5 essential factors that healthcare providers must keep in mind:
Creating the ideal setup
Healthcare providers must consider not only what is required immediately, but also what may be required later on. A certain level of built-in ‘future flexibility’ is needed on the advice of your IT provider. Although IT services can be expensive, they will be more expensive in the long run if not set up properly in the first place.
Implementing Tier 1 hardware from trusted manufacturers with guaranteed response times will mitigate hardware failure. InfoTech Solutions recommends Cisco and Hewlett Packard products.
Understanding as much as possible about the ‘why?’ behind your organisation’s IT design is important for medical professionals. Clients need to be aware of the inherent risks in the IT design proposed (no system is without risk) and willing to accept them.
Prioritising security and compliance
The nature of the data handled by healthcare professionals is governed by strict privacy regulations. The importance of privacy cannot be overstated in the medical field, which means proactive IT services and support is crucial.
With all IT systems now connected to the internet and the rise of advanced viruses (Trojans, malware and ransomware, for example), data protection is of constant concern.
Ironically, the most effective forms of protection are the ones least used, including:
- a strong and enforced password policy
- staff training on what to look out for
- what not to open on your email
- general vigilance
- high-quality security appliances and back-up methodology
It is wise to complete a risk analysis, including:
- how long clients can afford for their IT system to be down
- how much per hour downtime will cost
- how much data they can afford to lose in the event of a disaster
- what back-up systems they have in place for equipment\internet failure.
Integrating with other systems
With the emergence of Cloud technologies, integration with multiple systems to manage data is vital.
Questions to ask include: do your systems integrate with other systems? Are there alternative technologies you could use to increase productivity, mobilise your workforce or make data more secure/readily accessible?
Having superior back-up systems
This is the most important way to protect data from disaster. Not only is back-up essential in any business, it must be monitored and regularly tested like everything else. Checks should include ‘full restore tests’ in line with the client’s risk analysis.
As with everything, accountability is key. Someone should be responsible for these back-up systems and if they are away, someone else must know what to do.
The omniscient role of the Cloud
The Cloud can assist with everything mentioned above – from ‘software as a service’ integration platforms, to providing back-up and disaster recovery mechanisms.
These capabilities allow a business to keep running in the event of a disaster, moving back-ups to the Cloud hourly if required and providing a replacement system to work from if the main servers are down. The cost-effective Cloud eliminates the need for on-site servers and provides users with workspaces directly from a secure centre.
In short, the Cloud provides equipment and redundancy that is normally prohibitively expensive to buy outright and install onsite because it is a ‘monthly subscription’ rather than a capital cost.
Often misunderstood and viewed with suspicion, the Cloud is a good fit for a lot of practices in our experience – but the wrong advice can also be costly in the long term.
InfoTech Solutions looks after IT strategy and managed services for many clients in the medical industry.
For advice on IT services and support for your business, call (07) 3390 8833.