Health care facilities have a history of a mismatch of resources devoted to computer network support and their objective IT support needs, especially when HIPAA and HITECH compliance are taken into account. This approach by mostly small operators of nursing homes has led to a trend of fines and closings of facilities due to poor data security and lack of data security compliance.
Nursing and Health Care Facility’s IT Needs
A typical nursing home has at least a dozen computers and sometimes several dozen with at least one or two servers providing clinical software package hosting. Additional hosting is provided to email applications, time-clock programs, and other applications. Additional servers could be utilized for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and other uses. The environment usually includes a domain setup and multi-site links between several facilities and the home office. Each facilities could have its own specific configurations in all of these applications.
As is evident from the description above, there is a level of complexity due to the integration of many systems and applications across locations that could pose a risk to both system stability, integrity, and security compliance. A design and a comprehensive plan is necessary in systems that have such complexity.
Often the many software packages that are utilized by the convalescent homes and nursing facilities require constant IT support and supervision. The developers of the packages, especially of the clinical software, usually need to provide periodic support to keep the system functioning effectively. Only a professional and organized IT support company should be maintaining networks such as these.
How to Chose an IT Provider for a Nursing Home
There three key factors to consider when selecting a computer network support company in the health care facility industry.
It is critical for the IT consulting firm to have extensive industry experience that can be leveraged to efficiently maintaining the facility’s specific network and application needs. It is inefficient and risky to entrust IT operations to IT consulting firms that do not possess specific and extensive skills in the clinical support packages currently used by the industry, such as Quick Care, Keane Care, Accu Care, and Point Click Care.
It is even more risky to rely on IT support firms with no concrete understanding of how to maintain standards of data process and data security in compliance with HIPAA and HITECH regulations.
Organization and Supervision
Having appropriate experience is not enough to guarantee compliance and efficient operations of the computer network of nursing homes. The IT Support company is obligated to demonstrate a level of internal organization that can ensure that it can expediently and timely respond to all the needs of the a nursing home chain at the same time and in multiple locations. Also, all work performed must be supervised by the IT provider and quality control has to be performed before the work is finalized. Such operations require a high level of organization and strict adherence to company policies.
It is very important for IT Consulting companies that provide IT support to the skilled nursing home facilities and chains to conduct continuous industry specific learning. That means that the provider needs to be involved in various professional health facilities and nursing home associations. Having a computer network provider that is a member of the industry associations is a big plus in analyzing which firm to select for the responsibility of maintaining and upgrading IT networks for convalescent homes.