When it comes to effective healthcare, communication is a matter of life or death. The Joint Commission Sentinel Event database reports poor communication is the primary cause for nearly 70 percent of unexpected events (death, serious injury or risk thereof) unrelated to a patient’s illness.
To combat communication breakdowns, healthcare providers are exploring new collaboration technologies — but these bring challenges of their own. For instance, moving patient files to the Cloud ensures your teams have access to critical information whenever and wherever they need it, but it also raises some security, privacy and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance concerns.
To improve communication and collaboration without sacrificing security, more and more healthcare organizations opt for managed Microsoft Office 365 services. In addition to empowering teams with high-efficiency tools, Office 365 is one of the few solutions dedicated to maintaining HIPAA compliance. When partnering with Vology, a leading Managed Services Provider and Gold Microsoft Partner, healthcare organizations can maximize their investment in Office 365, ensuring effective licensing, seamless onboarding and 24/7/365 support.
Empower Your Teams
Most healthcare providers began to adopt electronic health records (EHR) about a decade ago. At the time, EHR helped improve efficiency by centralizing patient information within a single, structured platform. It’s still used for this purpose today, but the limitations are far more apparent. For instance, there is no legitimate way for teams to collaborate within EHR, which drives higher organizational inefficiencies along with clinician dissatisfaction. A recent IDC Health Insights survey reveals the top two reasons for job dissatisfaction both relate to productivity; 85 percent of physicians were frustrated with the amount of time spent on documentation, while 66 percent were upset they could not see more patients.
Microsoft Office 365 offers everything your teams need to create, communicate and collaborate: email, calendars, groups, messaging, telephony, business intelligence, social networking and more. That’s why the University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), a system formed by one of the largest healthcare providers in Colorado, selected Office 365 to improve workplace collaboration. After carefully considering many other vendors, UCHealth successfully migrated 17,000 mailboxes from three organizations spanning multiple email platforms into a single Office 365 environment. The upgrade has significantly increased collaboration across UCHealth and is projected to save the organization approximately $13.9 million by 2024.
Ensure 100 Percent HIPAA Compliance
Even though cloud-based solutions like Microsoft Office 365 have been proven to yield higher productivity, some healthcare providers remain hesitant to trust a third-party with protected health information (PHI). This is likely due to the fact that the government has increased the frequency of HIPAA audits—violators face up to $1.5 million in fines and a maximum of ten years in jail. Yet despite these steep consequences, there is still no vendor certification for HIPAA compliance.
So how can you ensure your data stays secure?
First, check the security and privacy practices of email and/or customer relationship management (CRM) software providers. To maintain HIPAA compliancy, these solutions must include encryption and secure software systems that meet federal standards. Office 365 already satisfies many regulation provisions for healthcare organizations at home and abroad, including compliance with the HIPAA Business Associate Agreement as well as meeting requirements for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act/Health Information Technology for Economical and Clinical Health Act (ARRA/HITECH).
Second, sign the Business Associate Agreement (BAA). HIPAA requires covered entities and their business associates (in this instance, healthcare providers and Microsoft) enter contracts (BAAs) to ensure the business associate will protect the covered entity’s PHI. BAAs are necessary because they limit the amount of PHI business associates can handle and specify how it will be managed.
Finally, train your organization. While Office 365 includes many built-in security features, there are steps every healthcare provider must take to ensure proper installation and end-user adoption. Vology can take the burden out of Office 365 migration, support and ongoing administrative duties (including keeping PHI out of address books)—but it’s ultimately your responsibility to train staff how to use PHI in accordance with HIPAA.
Maximize Your Investment
Microsoft Office 365 offers many collaborative and security benefits, but working with a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) like Vology helps ensure you achieve the highest possible return on investment (ROI). Vology has successfully deployed and supported Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange and other Office 365 solutions in both cloud-based and on-premise environments for many healthcare providers.
Our Microsoft experts evaluate your organization and optimize configuration and licensing, ensuring you’re not paying for wasted seats or apps that aren’t being used. We also plan the migration, which powers productivity by helping your teams get set up correctly and off to the best start. To keep things running smoothly, Vology provides 24/7/365 technical support with certified Microsoft experts. We understand every minute matters in healthcare, which is why our support team works to get to the root of the issue and resolve it quickly—no more time wasted waiting on tickets or holding for support calls.
Through these technological advancements, Vology and Microsoft Office 365 are transforming the healthcare industry. To learn how to foster collaboration, ensure compliancy and maximize ROI for your organization, visit vology.com or call 888-808-2199 today.