Atlantic.Net Blog

IT Solutions for Healthcare: How to Choose?

Richard Bailey
by Atlantic.Net (21posts) under HIPAA Compliant Hosting
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Managed service providers deliver many vital technical solutions and support to the United States healthcare industry. IT solutions for healthcare is big business, and cloud computing is helping to drive rapid growth within the sector. 

The world of medicine faces considerable unique technical challenges, notably the substantial demand to uphold cybersecurity resilience as well as the constant pressure to meet industry regulations and compliance requirements.

Managed IT services are proving very popular as healthcare practitioners look for help to solve major IT challenges and implement robust securities to protect Protected Health Information (PHI). 

Outsourcing IT for healthcare empowers an organization to meet and exceed the complex requirements of HIPAA regulations. These include all of the physical, administrative, and technical safeguards introduced by the HHS in 2003.

What are IT Solutions for Healthcare?

Healthcare information technology (healthcare IT) is a segment of IT that includes the development, implementation, and maintenance of IT in healthcare. It is used to automate and integrate healthcare workflows to enable better patient care, reduce operational costs due to efficiency gains, and improve collaboration. 

Solutions often used in healthcare IT include:

  • Electronic medical records or health records (EMR/EHR)
  • On-call or shift planning 
  • Financial management and billing systems
  • Telehealth or remote healthcare
  • HIPAA-compliant devices, networks, and servers
  • Point-of-care devices
  • Registration kiosks and self-service equipment

Atlantic.Net has a popular HIPAA compliant hosting platform where customers can create dedicated hosts or dedicated instances in next to no time. Managed services are available to wrap around all of the IT solutions on offer from Atlantic.Net.

How Healthcare Organizations Can Benefit From Managed IT Services

Healthcare IT solutions can be more complex than many other industries. Infrastructures and workloads must meet strict compliance requirements, hardware and software are often specialized, and people’s lives may be at stake. Managed services can help ease this IT burden by offering several benefits to organizations. 

What are IT Managed Services?

IT managed services or managed IT services are third-party services that you can use to contract or outsource IT tasks. When you use these services, you pay a monthly fee in exchange for remote management or monitoring of your IT infrastructure. For example, there are managed services that can take over security and compliance monitoring, maintain your resources’ performance and versioning, or serve as your incident response team.

By outsourcing IT tasks, you can ensure that your IT responsibilities are covered even if you do not have the staffing or expertise to manage on your own. Service vendors can provide a guarantee of coverage or availability that can be difficult to enforce with in-house teams. They can also supplement your own teams, for example, by providing coverage during off-hours. 

As cloud services become more popular, many managed service vendors have also begun managing cloud resources. Since access is already remote with these systems, managed services are easy to arrange and can often be integrated easily. 

For example, some providers focus specifically on managing public cloud services. Others focus on specific cloud infrastructures, such as Kubernetes deployments, Salesforce, or private clouds. 

If you engage managed services for IT with Atlantic.Net, one of the first tasks to complete is the signing of a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). The BAA is signed between a healthcare customer and Atlantic.Net, and it creates a baseline of the service guarantees on offer. 

Because all our services are managed in-house, we have full control over the hosting environment; this also makes the process go much faster with no other third-parties involved. The BAA can include a combination of agreements, response times, and other guarantees of the HIPAA disaster recovery solution. You can find extensive information on what a BAA is here.

Overcome Compliance Challenges

Understanding how and when compliance regulations apply to data, auditing systems for compliance, training employees, and managing encryption all take a lot of work and expertise. Managed providers with healthcare experience can help provide guidance and support for in-house teams, perform certified audits, or offer higher-grade IT security solutions than what you can implement on your own. 

Improve Patient Care

Service level agreements (SLAs) with providers can help you ensure that your services remain functional and available, making patient visits and records management smoother. These providers can also help you upgrade your systems, enabling you to move to new technologies smoothly: for example, putting thin clients in patients’ rooms or implementing telehealth support.

Enable Workforce Mobility

A major concern for healthcare providers using technology is the distribution of protected health information (PHI). Providers need to access information from wherever they are working securely, whether that’s a hospital, an ambulance, a private office, or while on-call.

Managed services, particularly from those who provide cloud support, can help you ensure that data is available from wherever providers need it without sacrificing privacy. These services can help you implement encryption uniformly and continuously monitor data access and sharing to ensure security is maintained. 

With managed IT services, all you need to do is choose either a dedicated or shared hosting tenancy. Atlantic.Net will do the rest to onboard you into our award-winning, HIPAA compliant hosting service. 

Enhanced Cyber-Security

Looking after the welfare of patients is a healthcare organization’s top priority, and rightly so, but most healthcare practices are now fully realizing that cybersecurity is a critical function of healthcare in the digital age. 

The protections we offer and the security layers of the infrastructure are sufficient to protect data in most circumstances

Network Firewalls

Our network architects have designed an intrinsically secure network infrastructure that isolates and protects your service, resulting in a fully private managed environment that only you have access to. Hardware and software firewalls are utilized strategically around the perimeter and internal networks. 

We offer an optional Web Application Firewall (WAF), which is a policy-defined device that protects web applications by monitoring and filtering traffic via Network Edge Protection.

Encrypted as Standard

Amazingly, encryption is not outlined as a mandatory part of HIPAA compliance, but covered entities must have a roadmap to achieving encryption to enhance data management. At Atlantic.Net, our service is fully encrypted by default, and managed by an advanced Key Management System (KMS). All in-scope PHI data is encrypted at rest, and in the unlikely event the data is intercepted, it will be completely unreadable or recoverable without the key.

Fully Encrypted Virtual Private Network

An encrypted VPN is a mandatory step to achieving HIPAA compliance. The VPN is a secure, encrypted network connection between the end-user and a corporate network. The technology allows you to connect to the hosted infrastructure over any whitelisted internet connection with a valid username and password, with additional protection offered with Multi-Factor Authentication. The VPN creates a secured network tunnel to safely transmit sensitive data without the risk of data being compromised.

Backups and Disaster Recovery 

Another strict requirement of HIPAA compliant hosting is the demand for healthcare IT solutions to back up and restore protected health information whenever required. A managed backup service can answer all of your backup needs. A backup schedule is created per your organizational requirements, and we recommend our customers test the restore process regularly. 

File-level and VM-level backups and snapshots are available, as well as offsite replication services. In the event of a disaster scenario, our optional service will manage the hosting platform failover to infrastructure into a secondary location.

Robust Log Management

For compliance purposes, all infrastructure services must have detailed logging available that can be monitored by our internal support groups or other experts. This includes system alerts, system errors, user activity, and VPN activity to name but a few.

Intrusion Prevention Service 

An IPS is placed at strategic points within the cloud network and works with the firewall by inspecting packets that the firewall has already accepted as legitimate. The IPS resides directly on the network, protecting against local vulnerabilities at the network layer.

24x7x365 Support

Since the health needs of patients never stop, why would your support for your IT needs stop?  Atlantic.Net’s support teams are available 24x7x365, and we always have someone available at the end of a phone line. The IT support teams are encouraged to develop and grow their expertise with advanced training, helping to ensure our customers get the support they need the first time they call.

Choosing a Managed IT Service for Your Healthcare Organization

When considering managed IT services, there are several aspects to consider. You want to ensure that the provider of services understands your specific needs and can provide you the greatest ROI. 

Healthcare professionals have invested heavily in IT within the industry, and the rate of digital transformation to either cloud hosting or managed hosting is significant. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of managed services, as hospitals, clinics, and the millions of home workers have been able to rely on HIPAA hosting to get the job done.

Breadth of Services

Ideally, you should be able to get one managed service provider for all of your IT needs. This includes on-premises resources, cloud resources, and any specialized software or hardware you may have. Every vendor you contract with requires access to your systems and a business associate agreement to ensure HIPAA compliance, so the fewer providers you have, the better. 

This doesn’t mean you need to transfer your IT responsibilities all at once, however. Instead, look for a vendor that supports the bulk of your needs and start small to ensure that they are reliable. For example, you may have them manage your cloud storage for archived data or medical records. 

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Over time the TCO will reduce capital expenditure (CAPEX) and become very cost-effective; there is no longer the need to buy expensive servers, network, and storage equipment, or have extensively trained teams to support the infrastructure. System Administrators and IT support personnel are expensive to hire and train, but access to our cloud company experts is included in the service. 

Customer-owned data centers can be consolidated or potentially closed. The change to operational expenditure (OPEX) will introduce a predictable pay-as-you-go subscription model where you only pay for the services that you consume; heavy discounts are offered for a 2- or 3-year commitment plan, an arrangement that will satisfy your finance team.

Improved Performance and Reliability 

You are guaranteed system resources 24/7. Host nodes are scaled and load balanced to ensure no customer suffers from the noisy neighbor syndrome, meaning you always have the resources you need, on-demand. 

Atlantic.Net invests heavily in computing hardware, with SSD exclusive storage layers, the very latest Intel CPU architecture, and a network layer that operates at breakneck speed. Performance that simply cannot be matched with a DIY model.

Less to Worry About

Outsourcing your healthcare hosting requirements to a managed hosting provider like Atlantic.Net will shift much of the responsibility of securing PHI. The Final Omnibus rule of HIPAA compliance places the responsibility firmly in the hands of the Managed Service Provider. 

This responsibility is something Atlantic.Net has handled for well over 15 years, so we look forward to welcoming you aboard! Let us handle the complexity of compliance and managed hosting, while you focus on the wellbeing of patients.

Scalability and Flexibility

The ability to adapt configurations, resources, and availability to changing workload needs is one of the tougher parts of IT management. When contracting out services, you should verify that the provider you choose is capable of these tasks. 

You want a provider who can continue to support you when you get new software or when you choose to migrate legacy applications to the cloud. If providers cannot help you adapt your system to meet changing needs, they cannot provide long term value. 

Compliance Awareness

Ensure that any provider you choose is aware of exactly what compliance regulations apply to you and how they apply. This is critical if you are using cloud services, since the location your data is stored in can play an important role. For example, the GDPR standards apply to EU citizens’ data regardless of where a provider is operating or managing data. 

IT Solutions for Healthcare with Atlantic.Net

Atlantic.Net has more than 25 years of experience exceeding the needs of health professionals and is one of the country’s leading healthcare technology companies. If you’re in this industry and you need help with IT, contact our sales team to find out how our managed services could help your organization.

If you are in the market for managed IT services for healthcare, make sure you choose an experienced HIPAA compliant provider that focuses on security, business continuity, and scalability: a provider that can grow with you, and one that focuses on collaboration and data interoperability. We know that the regulations of the industry are intense, but Atlantic.Net can take away the stress of managing your entire IT operation.

We have an extensive list of healthcare clients who have trusted us for many years, and our managed service packages really do allow you to forget about the complexities of IT and focus on your patients. We will protect your infrastructure from the very latest cybersecurity threats, as well as manage upgrades and maintenance behind the scenes. We will work with you to identify and secure PHI, protect you from ransomware attacks, and offer you the very best Healthcare Managed Services platform available.Atlantic.Net offers HIPAA Compliant Hosting and HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage services to support IT Solutions for Healthcare.

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