Technology is constantly advancing with the purpose to streamline procedures, to increase the expediency of daily tasks and duties, while decreasing the manpower and manual hours to perform them. One industry that is benefiting greatly from technological advancements is the healthcare industry.
We see it in the news all the time, as well as in political debates, the hot topic of rising healthcare costs. Information technology that has been integrated into the healthcare system is driven to help ease this issue. Streamlining the work of the administrative team, decreasing the manual hours of the physicians and medical staff, creating more ease-of-use and simplifying the transfers of patient records and data between providers.
The goal is to maximize efficiency with better care and services for the patients with these technological advancements in the medical field.
What is Health Information Technology?
Health information technology is the infrastructure that houses patient records for ease of retrieval, updating and sharing among providers, pharmacies and labs. It is also used to analyze and record patient data.
Health IT also encompasses software that creates a more systemized approach to collecting data, scheduling appointments and reminders, suggesting tests and prescriptions, and to assist with patient marketing outreach.
Manual labor hours and tedious tasks are facilitated through an electronic format to decrease waste and money spent on materials, plus have a faster submittal and retrieval time.
Ways IT Services Are Affecting the Cost of Healthcare
Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records are a proven and effective upgrade in the healthcare setting to help lower healthcare costs. In a study reported by Science Daily, community doctors who had switched to electronic health records saw an overall cost reduction in patient care of 3%, resulting in a $5.14 savings per patient. This may not sound like a lot but where healthcare costs continue to rise, this decreased expenditure does make an impact.
Going electronic with health records, opposed to traditional paper records also comes with the benefit of better quality care from providers, a cost savings on materials used for print and storage, and fewer medical errors.
Another plus for digitizing this system is that data is more easily collected for medical researchers to track health trends, outbreaks and epidemics, which can assist in increased substantial treatment with more vaccines and medically-assisted protocols available for the need.
Medical assistants, nurses, medical billers and appointment schedulers all rely on inputting, retrieving and sharing information from within the medical records. With ease of access to this information, protocols are faster and more efficient, saving time and manpower. Medical billers can also send out claims faster to the insurance companies.
You may have noticed the last time you went to the doctor’s the front desk manager handed you a tablet to enter in your information opposed to a stapled packet of paper on a clipboard with a pen. Opposed to manually filling out your personal information and health history to then hand it off to the front desk staff to decipher the handwriting and enter into the computer system. With electronic registration, patients are also asked to jump on the bandwagon of streamlining medical practices.
The data you enter at registration goes right into your electronic health record for ease of access by the medical assistant. The medical assistant can then record your vitals right into the same chart, and the information is right there for the provider to review all within the appointment setting. This allows for quicker access and better quality of care all around from the M.A. to the physician to the check out at the front desk.
Medical Practice Management
The medical office manager is the hub of the whole medical practice, keeping the office moving and flowing competently. Without the front end under control, the rest of the practice feels the pressure and the chaos start to creep in, which is not the ideal message to be translating to patients.
A medical practice management software implemented into front desk workstations provides streamlined efficiency for the office’s clerical and administrative duties, which keep the overall office running smoothly.
The practice management software is designed to automate almost every clerical task associated with health information management. The medical practice management software eases the workload submitting insurance verification, other communication with insurance companies, and storing basic patient information including appointment scheduling.
This is a software system that was designed specifically for the healthcare setting and can be tailored to the specific needs of the practice as well.
With the medical industry adopting the electronic health record movement, a trusted and secure environment is required to house all of this data. Cloud services are a cost-effective and trusted method to store this big data that is now being collected, shared, analyzed, and updated daily.
Cloud based services for data storage free up space in the office setting by eliminating the need for bulky server stations that are vulnerable to power outages and crashes. Without this risk, it also decreases the need for IT support services and downtime associated with crashes and power outages.
Cloud managed services are managed at a remote location where information is safely stored and always retrievable.
VOIP Phone Services
The Voice-over Phone Internet Protocol phone service has been widely incorporated into the healthcare setting to better streamline the calls from providers and patients according to their needs. This frees up the need for the front desk manager to play receptionist with incoming calls and redirecting them. Multiple phone lines can be added and directed to the appropriate department within the office. With less time on the phone, this allows front desk staff to focus on other clerical tasks.
When compared to a landline service, a VOIP phone system tends to run cheaper for businesses. VOIP phone systems also have the flexibility of adding more phone lines without a limited number, which is not so for a landline service. There are also many more benefits and features for VOIP phone services that healthcare offices can reap, including the ability to make conference calls whether in or away from the office, and call routing to different services.
Medical Portals and Apps
For a faster and easier way to communicate with patients, healthcare providers are implementing online patient portals and mobile apps. Patients can get reminders of bills that are due, when lab tests are available, appointment reminders, have access to a whole database of health resources, and communication methods with the medical staff for questions.
Online accessibility for patients decreases the need for call backs, phone call appointment reminders, calls to discuss labs, or to mail out paper invoices – these administrative tasks can be drastically reduced by automated, online services.
Online Marketing Strategies
A lot of healthcare providers spend a lot of time and money working hard to get their credentials, the office space and equipment for their practice. What good is all of that hard work if patients and other providers don’t know that you exist? Online marketing for healthcare gets the medical practice in front of those who need the care that is provided. There are specific target market strategies that can be employed to create an effective online presence and marketing approach.
The trend has been set to move away from direct mailers. Mailers take time to create, are expensive to produce and have an added wait time for delivery. Digital healthcare marketing gets the provider’s name and practice in front of way more qualified patients at the click of a button than any mass mailer could.
Managed IT Services
With all of these resources going digital and with your healthcare practice getting busier, it only makes sense to have a solid IT support company enlisted to monitor all of these tools. Physicians and their staff have enough on their plate working to care for their patients. The implemented technology is designed to make their lives easier and more efficient so they can spend more time with their patients. What is helpful with these systems is that there are IT consulting and service companies to monitor all system activity to make sure the workflow is fluid.
As technology advances for the healthcare industry, so does the technology to support these systems. IT support companies stay ahead of the ball watching for any potential threats or malfunctions, which, more likely than not, can be remedied before the office even knows there was an issue.
To protect the VOIP phone system, the automated marketing services, the cloud services housing crucial and sensitive patient records and health data, and the other digital services implemented, managed IT services help to decrease any downtime, thus loss of service and revenue.
Healthcare Practices are Upgrading to Information Technology Systems
Healthcare professionals are jumping on board the digital tidal wave to decrease manual efforts, increase efficiency, play a larger role in medical research, create more face time with their patients, and, to overall, decrease healthcare costs in their practice.
Your Local Medical IT Solutions Professionals
To learn more about healthcare technology contact Northern Arizona IT for professional and experienced IT consulting support for your practice. Northern Arizona IT is an IT services company located in Prescott, AZ serving small to medium-sized businesses and medical practices. They provide VOIP services, automated marketing, cloud services, managed IT services and excellent customer service with around-the-clock monitoring of business systems.
Preparation is the key to success. We have all heard this saying many times before. The reason we hear it is because it’s true. We rely on technology at work for nearly everything that we do. Even something as simple as making a pot of coffee for the office is driven by technology today.
What will you do if the computer systems crash in the middle of a hectic work week? When this happens, there tends to be chaos. Often files go missing, data is corrupted, and clients are not happy.
As a local business in Arizona, we know how unpredictable the weather can be. When bad weather strikes, there are often blackouts, which can lead to technical issues and data loss. You can prevent such a nightmare by using a cloud services platform company to host and back up all of your data.
We took the time to sift through all of the many network backup services available and compiled a categorized list of the ones we think are best suited for local businesses in Arizona. This will help you make the best decision possible when it comes to backing up your business’s data to the cloud.
Cloud Storage Solutions
The “cloud” is an enigmatic term in and of itself. It conjures up mystery within the technology world. In simple terms, cloud services for local business are a way for them to store all of their data on remote servers that can be accessed from the Internet. Cloud storage takes many different forms, so below, you will find our guide to each category.
Virtual Data Backup
Virtual data backup is critical for local Arizona businesses. The process of backing up your files to a virtual server is essential to minimize any potential data loss. After careful consideration, our top choice in this category is CrashPlan.
As the name suggests, CrashPlan is perfect for handling your business’s data backup needs in the case of a computer crash. They offer flexible pricing options for cloud services for businesses. CrashPlan offers deleted file protection, unlimited storage, email alerts, and reports. This all comes in a pretty standard price plan. It is free for the first month and then $10 per device per month after that.
We also really enjoyed that this service offers top-notch security features, including 256-bit AES encryption. You also can keep deleted files forever.
Hybrid backup services combines the best of both worlds by using local storage backups and cloud internet services together. This means that the locally attached storage devices are capable of holding full data backups while uploading that data to the cloud. This is advantageous because it decreases the number of resources needed to back up.
The amount of time it takes to backup is a significant factor when it comes to deciding on a backup plan. Backing up can also consume a lot of RAM, which can cause the systems to run slower. With hybrid systems, you have the ability to combine forces and minimize these issues. We know that this is important to our Arizona business owners.
Our top choice for this category is Acronis. Acronis is a top-rated service that has helped businesses everywhere with their backup solution. We liked that Acronis offers their own Acronis Cloud, where all of your data can be stored securely. Although Acronis may not be the cheapest solution, we think that it is a guaranteed winner when it comes to your data.
Many Arizona businesses are in need of long-term storage solutions. They want to have one initial set up and then continuous and secure storage for years to come. Simplicity is vital when looking for a long-term solution, and we recommend Amazon S3.
Everyone is familiar with Amazon and their fantastic domination of the online retail world. They also offer very cheap and effective cloud services for a small business. The factors we liked the most include the very cost-effective price plans and the unmatched durability. Amazon has a large number of resources at their disposal, and with unlimited storage, this can’t be beaten for a lasting solution.
Online Collaboration and File Sharing
Being able to collaborate with your colleagues on projects is a must in the digital age. The need for instant file sharing capabilities is more significant than ever before. Every company needs to have a collaboration tool set up for employees to share documents instantly and to edit on the fly.
For this category, the undeniable choice is Google Drive for Business. We loved the flexibility and ease with which you are able to edit files that sync to all of your devices instantly. Since many people use Google Drive for their personal use, the learning curve when in implementing it into your business is minimal.
Many of the variants that we have discussed thus far have the ability to be used on Mac devices. We understand that many companies use an all Apple desktop environment, especially graphic design or entertainment companies.
There are many cloud web services geared for Mac users. Our favorite in this category is SugarSync for business. We enjoyed that this option has a powerful and controllable sync customization menu. We also thought that the remote management functionality was fantastic.
One of the most significant advantages in this section is that SugarSync allows you to back up your Mac’s existing file structure with ease.
Cloud Security Services
With access to the Internet rising rapidly, there is an increased security risk involving all of the data that we put on the cloud. It is for this exact reason that you should invest in a cloud security service for your business.
Cloud security solutions are a way to keep your data safe while monitoring network and access. Security solutions secure the connections between software as cloud business services for clients and users. It is crucial to ensure that you can restrict access to the data when need be.
For this section, we recommend CipherCloud. This program is the total solution package for all your cloud consulting services, hosting, and security needs. It provides cloud encryption gateway services. It is also able to work with all different types of common platforms such as Google Drive and OneDrive.
Cloud Managed Services
After the implementation of a sound cloud hosting network, you will need a way to manage it. This includes managing the users, their connections, the files, the sync time, and many other essential cloud I.T. services for small business. Managing your cloud hosting can be more important than implementation. You will want to maintain the servers to ensure security and data preservation.
Our recommendation is the IBM Cloud Orchestrator software. We enjoyed that this software makes it easy to manage your corporate cloud services, including automation of cloud-provisioning and policies. The software suite includes many policy tools that will allow you to have complete control over your network hosting and data.
Cloud Infrastructure Services
Cloud infrastructure technology that we use today is a must for any business in Arizona. There are many different types of cloud infrastructure that you should be aware of when choosing the right one for you.
When moving your data to a cloud infrastructure, you should understand the difference between hosted services and infrastructure ones. Infrastructure services are usually cloud services that are accessed from a web browser. This means that the data is stored on virtual machines within the cloud.
Cloud Hosting Services
Cloud hosting services, on the other hand, are usually physical servers that are off the company’s site and located elsewhere. Both infrastructure and hosted cloud computing services are viable options for many Arizona businesses.
The advantage of hosted services is if you need a client to access some of the data. For example, if you provide a platform for client use, such as software as a service (SaaS). Hosting services will be better suited for this situation.
The Complete List of Cloud Storage Providers for Local Businesses
We have provided our expert advice on all of the cloud-based services that we think are beneficial for Arizona businesses. We provided one for each category, but we feel that there are a few more options that you should be aware of. These are our second choices for the best companies that offer cloud computing services on the market.
Carbonite – Carbonite is a staple in the world of backup services. It is more of a general backup service to support all of your needs. It is excellent for small businesses since it offers many different price plans. We liked that Carbonite offers unlimited cloud storage services, but a license is restricted to one device.
Backblaze – As another honorable mention, we enjoyed using BackBlaze. This system is remarkably easy to use. It offers unlimited storage, like previously mentioned software products. It also provides mobile access, which is convenient for users. It is also low cost and has live chat support for any issues that you may encounter as well as cloud I.T. services.
Northern Arizona IT provides top-level technical services for businesses local to Prescott and Arizona state wide. They have over 10 years of experience in the industry and have received the Daily Courier Reader’s Choice Award for 1st Place Best Computer Tech Service.
Call us today to discuss your business computing needs or visit our website for a complete list of services we provide for your business. We are happy to help you succeed!