I’ve worked with many medical practices that just ignore their IT department. They know the “guy” comes in, but no one really knows what he does. All they know is that when they call him, he comes by, it gets fixed, and they get a bill.
At one time, that was fine. Medical Practices didn’t have the same technology needs as they do now. With paper charts, you could be down for 2 hours, and still see patients. You can’t do that with electronic medical records!
Around 2005, IT outsourcing became really popular. Practices started to realize that they needed good dependable IT services, with engineers who could architect and design a network. They didn’t always need to hire them full-time, but they desperately needed the service. This is what made outsourcing so attractive. You can hire an IT company and have all the resources available to you on an “as-needed” basis.
Making a decision to outsource is always difficult.
Below are 5 things that may make it difficult to decide whether to hire an IT company.
- You’ve worked with your IT person for many years and you are very loyal. They may even be a relative.
- You are afraid that the new people won’t know your network the way he/she does.
- You are not sure of the price and are afraid it’s cost-prohibitive.
- How do you know that the company you hire is better than what you have?
- Does the outsource company understand medical practices? Do they understand your modalities and the equipment you use in your office?
These are all legitimate concerns. However they’re very manageable. Follow these 10 steps and you’ll be on your way!
- Check references. A good IT company should have solid references.
- Look-up how long the company has been in business.
- Ask about their HIPAA knowledge. Security is very important for your practice.
- See what “tools” they have to offer. Do they have a ticketing system? Reporting? Remote managed services?
- What level engineering do they have? Are they certified?
- Do they have any vendor partnerships that would be useful to you, like Microsoft, Dell, etc.?
- How many engineers do they have?
- What is their turnaround time on issues, and what is their escalation process?
- What happens after hours? Will you be able to get support?
- Do they understand your specialty?
Choosing an IT company is not easy. Many IT companies provide similar services. Price is always a factor, but your best bet is to consider their experience with medical practices. Supporting medical practices requires a different skillset than supporting other businesses. IT is the “HUB” of your practice. A good IT vendor will have resources in addition to fixing and maintaining computers and servers. They should be able to help you with purchasing equipment for your practice, communications, phones, internet, etc.
Lastly, a good IT company will care about security…a lot. Make sure they take HIPPA seriously. They need to have a good understanding of it, and follow the appropriate guidelines. If they don’t, look elsewhere.
Did we miss any guidelines? Have you hired an IT company?
Let’s hear your stories in the comments!