Healthcare organizations enjoy many outsourced solutions including medical data entry and healthcare IT outsourcing among others. Outsourcing brings benefits in terms of reduced workload, improved efficiency, and reduced costs. In this blog we will look at healthcare IT outsourcing and how healthcare providers benefit from the same. As a recent Black Book poll shows, a large majority of healthcare organizations (81%) that use IT outsourcing have either already seen a positive ROI, or were within 6 months of seeing one in mid-2017. The survey was done on nearly 1,600 hospital executives, representing 244 hospital organizations and 798 physician practices that had adopted managed services.
- 34% of the responding organizations said that they expected to increase their present levels of IT outsourcing over the next 2 years.
- 58% planned to maintain their present amount of IT outsourcing through 2019.
- 84% of the respondents said that their outsourcing operations including the hosting of mission-critical applications and patient data increased efficiencies and reduced costs, and proved transformative to their businesses.
- For smaller organizations especially, outsourcing helped avoid investing in costly equipment and staff.
Another reason why healthcare organizations are considering health IT outsourcing is security. Now there is increasing threat from ransomware and other forms of cyber attacks that could compromise sensitive healthcare data. Therefore the focus is now on expending more resources on security, either using in-house solutions or by working with managed service providers. The latter option is more popular because it helps healthcare organizations contain costs. Being cyber resilient helps healthcare units to prevent loss of revenues, and avoid several unforeseen costs and legal liabilities that come bundled with a cyber breach.
What are the key drivers for the increased adoption of health IT outsourcing?
- Shortage of healthcare IT professionals with the required expertise and experience.
- To avoid expenses involved in setting up a data center, deploying in-house EHR servers and managing them, and recruiting staff.
- Outsourcing ensures immediate access to trained staff that can manage the necessary services.
- Excellent return on investment.
- Managed services free up a healthcare organization’s IT team to focus on core business activities.
- Reduces long-term costs considerably.
- Outsourcing IT services enables organizations to stay current with evolving technology.
- Greater scalability is offered by outsourced services. Organizations that outsource to scalable providers can meet periods of peak demand more efficiently and meet ongoing business needs without a huge capital investment.
- Availability of round-the-clock staffing.
Managed Service Provider (MSPs) also offer improved protection of healthcare data in an organization. Outsourcing to a good provider helps to improve upon the organization’s security controls, authentication services and threat detection to both minimize and mitigate these threats. MSPs have all the appropriate resources for supporting healthcare clients and also have a strong understanding of compliance requirements that healthcare needs. The CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, California made the decision to outsource their EHR data 7 years ago, prompted mainly by the fact that they had a non-compliant data center that (according to Bill Feaster, Chief Health Information Officer at the hospital), was never going to be HIPAA-compliant because the costs that would have been involved to get it there were too high. In addition, they wanted to get more reliability.
McAfee, in one of their reports in the second quarter of 2017, found that healthcare sector was the hardest hit by cybersecurity attacks largely because of a 67% increase in malware. Managed service providers offering outsourced solutions can help in this regard by protecting vital systems and data from cyber criminals. Often, healthcare organizations face critical security vulnerabilities that are not addressed properly. A hacker may disrupt a particular service and only after the breach occurs does the organization become aware of the bad/compromised condition or vulnerability that exists. It is then that IT leaders rush to hire staff in an attempt to amend and support the damaged infrastructure. On the other hand, if IT is outsourced, the provider will manage the service on behalf of the organization and help avoid erratic steps and emergency measures.
Managed service providers offer:
- Security monitoring and management
- Cloud workload management and support
- 24/7/365 IT help desk
- License management
- New employee boarding
- Ongoing security awareness initiatives
- HIPAA compliance training and audits
MSPs allow healthcare organizations to free up their internal resources and allocate them to other projects and initiatives that are far more useful and necessary for the organization. The Black Book survey shows that most provider organizations with 100 beds or more are at present seriously considering additional IT outsourcing. Among the surveyed organizations, 83% said that addressing complex IT outsourcing would be a priority for them in 2018.
Using the outsourced solutions provided by managed service providers is definitely advantageous for health organizations because it helps them gain access to the latest technology, improve security, ensure scalability, enhance reliability, and increase their opportunity to work in core business activities.