At Solution Builders, we realize that trusting an outside organization with your technology needs poses a certain risk to your healthcare practice. Even if your administration team agrees that now is the time to move to an outsourced IT model, many of your partners and providers may not be on board with this decision. In this two-part series, we’ll examine how we’ve previously worked with healthcare providers and explore how a medical practice can engage with a managed IT services company to reduce risk and provide a stable technology environment for their staff and patients.
We’ve supported many healthcare providers over the past 25 years, and while they are all unique, they share similar concerns and have similar demands on the IT infrastructure. For this series, we’ve distilled the different providers down to a relatively simple practice to build a support scenario around: a family medical practice.
Our typical family practice for this exercise is called Typical Family Physicians, or TFP for short. TFP is a 20-year old practice started by two med school friends. Over the years, they have added staff, then more providers and now the organization consists of ten providers covering specialties a typical family practice covers. Their staff just hit 30 employees and they have two locations in a smaller city about 30 minutes from the nearest large hospital system.
The partners love technology and think it delivers real results for their patients, so they invested heavily in an in-house lab, a modern ultrasound suite, and the only CT scanner in 30 miles. Over the past 10 years, they’ve invested heavily in modern EMR systems and just moved the entire EMR system to a hosted provider.
With the upcoming retirement of their long-time in-house IT support person, the partners are eager to learn about outsourcing their IT support but still have some reservations. While hiring another IT person to be their in-house expert is comforting, finding the properly qualified person, at an affordable salary, in the area, might be difficult.
TFP isn’t unique in their IT needs. Their number one concern is in providing patients with the best possible care. To that end, they’ve come up with a list of things either an in-house person or a technology support company would be responsible for. They are: prompt resolution of technical issues, cybersecurity, assistance with HIPAA regulations, vendor coordination when solving electronic medical record (EMR) system problems and assisting the vendor implementing new systems, planning for future technology as it relates to the healthcare field (and specifically their practice), and maintaining existing systems and making sure they perform to their best abilities.
While it’s easy for us technologists at Solution Builders to jump in here proposing 28 different technical solutions to their concerns, we would like to approach the solution from a practice administrator’s standpoint.
The practice administrator is the person who makes sure the “airplane” is ready to fly each morning and the bills get paid at the end of the day. At TFP, the practice administrator fully delegated all IT functions to the in-house IT person. In an outsourced IT scenario, it plays out a bit differently.
Once a practice gets to around 25-30 staff members, there starts to be a need for an internal IT coordinator. We’ve seen this at nearly every practice we’ve supported – the coordinator is responsible for making sure the vendor does what it says it is doing and for providing oversight for important programs for the practice, such as HIPAA. The IT coordinator is typically a portion of someone’s responsibilities – especially if the practice is smaller. So, let’s talk more about the outsourced IT experience from the IT coordinator’s point of view.
Starting from the broad, strategic level of looking at the organization from a long-term technology standpoint, Solution Builders (SB) services engage both the IT coordinator and other important stakeholders (in this case, the TFP partners) in discussions about the current state of technology in the organization while also sharing about upcoming technology solutions both parties have been observing in their industries. TFP decided long ago that these meetings with “all involved” only need to happen once per year during budgeting season, and SB would coordinate this planning and/or participate in the technology strategic planning sessions. The result is always a forward-looking technology roadmap and a clear budget for TFP.
In part 2 of our 2-part series, we’ll dive deeper into the day-to-day experiences and explore more on how a medical practice can engage with a managed IT services company.