Evolving Reasons for Outsourcing Healthcare IT Management to Third Parties
Healthcare institutions are currently facing a significant dilemma in their digital evolution. On the one hand, advancements in technology offer them a robust array of digital tools for both customer interactions and behind-the-scenes operations, enabling them to meet the increasing demands of patients and staff for enhanced and seamless experiences. Nevertheless, even as healthcare organizations make progress in meeting these expectations, the truth is that a considerable number are encountering difficulties in recruiting and retaining proficient IT professionals necessary for the implementation, maintenance, and oversight of the sophisticated technological resources they have already or intend to invest in.
Challenges: Talent Shortages and Security Concerns
The scarcity of skilled personnel is a widespread issue, particularly in the field of IT. Gartner analyst Mbula Schoen noted in late 2022 that the demand for tech expertise far exceeds the available supply, and she anticipates this trend to persist until at least 2026.
Cyber Attack Risks
Furthermore, it's crucial not to ignore the growing susceptibility of healthcare institutions to cyberattacks. This vulnerability arises from the rise of hybrid work environments and the continuously shifting and expanding network perimeters. In 2022, the healthcare sector experienced the highest incidence of third-party data breaches, as reported in a 2023 study by Black Kite Research.
To safeguard against the ongoing surge in cyber threats, more sophisticated forms of cybersecurity services, along with skilled personnel to manage them, are imperative.
This convergence of challenges is compelling healthcare organizations to devise strategies that simultaneously address various business risks. Apart from the heightened security concerns, there are substantial expenses linked to technology investments, risks related to compliance, operations, and talent. Additionally, there's the overarching competitive risk, as staying on par with industry disruptors hinges on delivering superior experiences for both customers and employees.
Outsourcing IT Functions: How outsourcing can solve aboev chalnegs
Healthcare organizations are taking steps to mitigate these distinct risks by entrusting critical IT operations to third-party service providers. This encompasses tasks such as health system integrations, cybersecurity, network administration, digital infrastructure, contact center management, and more. Engaging third-party tech experts to handle IT services is one of the approaches being employed.
According to a survey conducted by 451 Research last year, over half of the respondents reported utilizing managed service providers (MSPs) for their cloud environments. Furthermore, 73 percent of them anticipate an increased reliance on managed services in the future.
Managed services involve providing a customer with a solution or result in exchange for a regular or usage-based fee. This frequently involves products like a software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) or a cybersecurity solution like secure access service edge (SASE), which are maintained and overseen by a third-party entity.
In the case of healthcare institutions, the rationale for employing IT managed services has gained significant attention due to the pivotal role they can play in an organization's strategy for mitigating the risks mentioned earlier.
In today's landscape, finding IT professionals proficient in implementing, integrating and managing healthcare solutions, particularly those with expertise in healthcare IT, is a challenging task. By outsourcing crucial IT operations to a third party, ideally with a background in the healthcare industry, not only are overburdened IT teams relieved of the tasks associated with maintaining IT infrastructures, but they are also liberated to focus on driving improved business outcomes and enhancing customer experiences.
For healthcare institutions, ensuring uninterrupted service is imperative. Disruptions in services or communication with patients are simply not an option. Managed IT services empower organizations to transfer the risks of equipment failures and maintenance to the IT service provider. It becomes the responsibility of the IT partner to guarantee constant network availability, with the healthcare organization receiving top priority for restoration in case of any outage.
Expanding the Talent Pool
Healthcare organizations find a valuable partner in IT managed services, as they play a crucial role in maintaining operational continuity, optimizing network performance, and safeguarding critical data and assets. This becomes especially critical for understaffed organizations or those susceptible to disruptions from natural disasters and other unforeseen events.
Elevating Customer and Employee Experiences
IT managed services enable healthcare organizations to meet the escalating expectations of both customers and employees. By providing unified communications and advanced contact center capabilities, organizations can deliver seamless and digitally enhanced experiences across various channels. This enhancement in customer experience directly impacts Medicare star ratings, a significant consideration given the substantial bonus payments tied to these ratings projected for 2023.
Financial Certainty Through Managed Services
Partnering with an IT managed services provider empowers organizations to shift the capital expenses associated with IT investments. This transformation turns potentially fluctuating IT costs into a more predictable operational expense, providing a greater degree of financial certainty.
Bolstering Cybersecurity Defenses
In an era of escalating cyber threats, cybersecurity managed services, including offerings like SASE, are gaining traction. They assist organizations in evaluating their security posture, mitigating identified risks, and maintaining continuous monitoring of systems. This proactive approach is instrumental in fortifying the organization against sophisticated and costly cyberattacks.
Eliminating Technology Obsolescence
IT managed services alleviate concerns surrounding technological obsolescence. Service providers are responsible for ensuring that processes, software, hardware, and other infrastructure components remain current and compliant. This ensures that the organization operates on up-to-date and efficient systems.
Challenges of Healthcare IT outsourcing
Outsourcing IT services can offer numerous benefits, such as cost savings and access to specialized expertise. However, it also comes with its set of challenges. Here are some common challenges of IT outsourcing in healthcare:
- Communication Barriers: Language differences, time zone variations, and cultural disparities can hinder effective communication between the client and the outsourced team.
- Quality Assurance: Ensuring that the outsourced team delivers work of the desired quality can be a concern, especially if there's a lack of oversight or defined quality control measures.
- Data Security and Privacy: Entrusting sensitive data to a third-party can raise concerns about security breaches, data leaks, or compliance issues if proper security protocols aren't in place.
- Regulatory Compliance: Healthcare IT outsourcing must adhere to a complex web of healthcare regulations like ONC cures Act, healthcare certifications and standards like HL7, FHIR. CDA which vary by region. Navigating compliance requirements can be challenging for both providers and outsourcing partners.
- Integration with Existing Systems: Healthcare organizations often have legacy systems in place. Ensuring seamless healthcare integration with new IT solutions can be complex and may require expertise in interoperability standards like HL7 (Health Level Seven), FHIR interface and also various interface engines.
- Clinical Knowledge and Expertise: Healthcare IT systems require a deep understanding of clinical workflows and terminology. Outsourcing partners must possess this knowledge to design and implement effective solutions.
- Patient Safety and Care Quality: IT systems in healthcare directly impact patient safety and care quality. Any disruptions or errors in the system can have serious consequences. Therefore, ensuring high system reliability and accuracy is crucial.
- Change Management and User Adoption: Implementing new IT systems can face resistance from healthcare professionals who are accustomed to existing workflows. Effective change management strategies are essential for successful adoption.
- Hidden Costs: While outsourcing can save costs, there may be hidden expenses like additional management overhead, travel costs for oversight, or unexpected project delays.
- Transitioning and Onboarding: It can be challenging to smoothly transition functions to an outsourced team and get them up to speed with the client's systems and processes.
- Cultural Fit: Differences in work culture and practices between the client and outsourced team can lead to clashes in expectations and approaches to work.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Ensuring that the outsourced team can scale up or down based on the client's needs, without compromising quality, can be a logistical challenge.
How KPi-Tech Can Address the Challenges of IT outsourcing?
By following the best practices below, KPi-Tech is dedicated to effectively managing and overcoming the challenges associated with IT outsourcing, ensuring seamless and successful partnerships with our clients.
KPi-Tech places a strong emphasis on effective communication. We have a multilingual team and utilize advanced collaboration tools to bridge language differences and time zone variations. Our project managers act as facilitators to ensure seamless communication between clients and our outsourced teams.
Rigorous Quality Assurance
We implement robust quality control measures to guarantee that work delivered by our teams meets the highest standards. Quality assurance in healthcare IT (Information Technology) is a critical aspect of ensuring that healthcare systems, software, and technology solutions meet high standards of safety, reliability, and effectiveness.
Prioritized Data Security
Breaches or mishandling of healthcare data can have severe consequences for patients and providers. Data security is a top priority at KPi-Tech. We employ state-of-the-art encryption methods, access controls, and compliance protocols to safeguard sensitive information. Our rigorous security services ensure that client data is protected at all times.
Vendor Management Expertise
KPi-Tech maintains a vigilant approach to vendor management. We carefully select and vet our outsourcing partners, ensuring they align with our standards of expertise and reliability. Additionally, we have contingency plans in place to mitigate any potential vendor-related disruptions.
Balanced Control and Oversight
While functions are outsourced, KPi-Tech maintains a balanced approach to control and oversight. Our project managers act as liaisons, providing clients with regular updates, progress reports, and ensuring that project milestones are met.
Deep Industry Knowledge
At KPi-Tech, we have 25+ years of experience in the Healthcare IT domain. Our teams undergo extensive training and certifications to gain a deep understanding of our client's industry, ensuring that solutions are tailored to specific business processes and industry requirements.
Stringent Compliance Adherence
Ensuring compliance is crucial for maintaining the quality of care, protecting patient rights, and avoiding legal and financial penalties. We have a dedicated compliance team that ensures our outsourcing arrangements adhere to legal and regulatory requirements in both the client's and our vendor's locations.
Transparent Cost Structure
KPi-Tech believes in transparency when it comes to costs. We provide detailed cost breakdowns and avoid hidden expenses. This ensures that our clients have a clear understanding of the financial aspects of their projects.
Structured Transition and Onboarding
We have a well-defined transition and onboarding process in place. This includes comprehensive training sessions, knowledge transfer, and a phased approach to smoothly integrate our outsourced teams into the client's operations.
Cultural Sensitivity and Alignment
KPi-Tech places a strong emphasis on cultural alignment. We provide cultural sensitivity training to our teams, fostering an environment of mutual understanding and respect for diverse work cultures.
Scalability with Quality Assurance
We ensure that our teams can scale up or down based on client needs without compromising quality. Our robust project management and resource allocation strategies allow for seamless scalability.
Transforming Digital Efforts into Opportunities
By entrusting risks to a capable third party Healthcare IT company, healthcare organizations can shift their focus from viewing digital transformation as a burden to recognizing it as an opportunity. This approach paves the way for the establishment of a sustainable, secure, and customer-centric business model.