Hosted Software Service vs In-House IT
Therapy clinic managers who are in the process of evaluating therapy software solutions must also consider the benefits of a hosted software service against in-house IT management. The top 3 considerations are not only financial but have a long term affect on the bottom line of a Rehabilitation business.
INITIAL CAPITAL OUTLAY
Let’s face it, computer equipment is not an investment. The speed at which technology changes can make top-of-the-line equipment obsolete after a year or two. Hosting services provide viable alternatives to this dilemma by spreading the cost over many companies. Many companies give you a choice between “Thin client” or hosted service which provides access to your clinic software from anywhere with a portable device with WIFI capability, without the need for high end computer equipment. A clinician could log in to check schedules, cancellations and update notes on the fly. Another option would be a VPN (virtual private network). This option allows you to use even outdated equipment to access your management software, extending the shelf life of the equipment you may already have. Both of these hosting options provide room for growth and expansion without expensive upgrading or new equipment.
Does it make sense to hire a full time or part time IT professional to manage your therapy software? One of the benefits of a hosted solution is that you get economies of scale which helps you by eliminating in-house IT employees and sharing the cost of a full department of professionals that are skilled in the many different areas of IT. The equipment and configuration needed to protect health information is a responsibility not to be taken lightly with the processes and regulations becoming more specific with each version. A good hosting service will provide professional consulting, a full disaster recovery team, and the staff would preferably reside here in the US. Many IT graduates and even professionals do not understand the time and effort it takes to maintain a hosting environment with a high caliber of recoverability and redundancies. The majority of hours should be dedicated to maintaining a protected health hosting environment and preparing for what may, or may not occur.
TECHNOLOGY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS
If your core competency is Rehabilitation, how can you possibly keep up with disaster recovery practices for your therapy software? Not to mention the HIPPA compliant health information protection processes. The truth is, many clinics can’t…and don’t. Continual server management and automated back-up and storage procedures protect patient data and ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster. Maintaining a secure, reliable IT environment requires valuable time and financial commitments that can drain a therapy clinic’s resources. In addition to things like AT&T’s redundant optical circuits, a good hosting service should have multiple server redundancies allowing for complete system reconfiguration with no downtime. You can measure a disaster recover center by what is called a “return to operation goal.” Where D= the time of the disaster, you add a number to determine the time it takes to become operational again. For example a time of D+4 is a very good recovery time where D+12 would be the maximum time desirable.
Another consideration is “recovery point objective” refers to the amount of time at which you recover your backup data from the time of the failure. A recovery point of 10 minutes from the time of the failure is very good with the maximum desirable being 75 minutes. A really good hosting company will do a full backup at midnight and, in addition, maintain constant backup routine for hourly changes. This number is important to companies with multiple clinics, in that it can reduce the cost of man hours needed to re-enter the lost data between the last backup and the time of failure.
Outsourcing your information technology with a hosting service should remove all of these responsibilities and give you piece of mind that your health information is managed by providing a full range of IT professionals on call 24/7…. 365 days a year.