As I’ve visited many medical, dental and veterinary practices over the past few years, I’ve been struck by how universal this phenomenon is. Every practice relies on IT — from scanners to mobile devices to credit-card processing — for its daily operations. When IT works, it’s simple and seamless. But when it doesn’t, the office flies into a panic or comes to a screeching halt. That’s bad for staff stress levels, and it’s even worse for patient satisfaction.
Trouble is, practices haven’t had a lot of options. Can’t print a prescription? Tablet stopped working? Appointment calendar frozen? You can call the local mom-and-pop computer shop. You can try a big-box electronics store. You can wait on hold with your EMR software provider.
In all those cases, you cross your fingers and hope you get a service rep who knows what he’s talking about. You’re never sure how much it will cost, whether the problem will be fixed right the first time, or if sensitive patient data will remain secure.
With those challenges in mind, I’ve identified what I believe are physician practices’ top 5 IT issues — and how to address them:
- Information security — No aspect of IT is more important than the protection of your patient information. Yet cyber-attacks are skyrocketing in frequency and sophistication. So, in addition to a well-documented and enforced security policy, you need a unified threat management (UTM) solution. UTM combines proven security technologies in a single, automated appliance. These include intrusion detection and prevention, a firewall to block Internet-based attacks, and remote configuration for automatic updates against evolving threats.
- Mobile devices — It’s the rare healthcare provider today who isn’t tethered to a tablet or laptop. You can’t afford for your mobile device to go down. The solution is to proactively optimize the performance, maintenance and security of devices through mobility management. An effective mobility management tool lets your practice track device health, receive problem alerts, centrally manage devices and users, locate lost or stolen devices, and troubleshoot and resolve issues in real time.
- Printer management — Printers aren’t necessarily the cutting edge of technology, but your practice relies on them daily. Managed print services keep them up and running at their best. Managed print services start with print solution design to ensure you have print equipment that meets your needs. They continue with ongoing monitoring and preventive maintenance — including automatic toner replenishment and parts replacement.
- Credit-card processing — A physician practice is a business, and a crucial part of your operations is credit-card processing. If a power outage or telecom interruption knocks out your Internet connection, your practice can’t function. That’s why you need connectivity backup. A connectivity backup solution combines devices, connections and services to keep your retail systems going. That includes an uninterruptible power supply, a security appliance, a wide-area network (WAN) extender, plus installation and configuration.
- Preventive maintenance — Of course, many other aspects of IT can go wrong on an ongoing basis. For that you need professional IT services that cover a broad range of issues. Look for pro services offered for a single subscription fee that covers scheduled technology consultations and technician visits, plus quick onsite repairs as needed to get you back up and running when something goes down.
These five IT issues plague not only physician practices but also many other small businesses. In fact, they were the impetus behind Tech-Zone, a new IT services company powered by CompuCom®. Tech-Zone gives small businesses easy access to a broad range of IT support and services — all securely delivered by experienced IT technicians at predefined prices. For medical, dental and veterinary practices struggling with IT, Tech-Zone is just what the doctor ordered.
What are your thoughts on these ways to solve IT problems in healthcare? Please post a comment or question here.