Being in charge of IT for a healthcare organization isn't easy.
You're responsible for vast amounts of some of the most sensitive information that an organization can deal in; medical data. You're also dealing with financial information, insurance, securing your organization's Internet of Things (IoT) and other information that requires you to be up on compliance for laws like HIPAA and GDPR.
You have to stay within your budget, keep everything updated and make sure all of your organization's tech works.
It's a lot, especially for smaller healthcare providers who don't have the budget to constantly update software, maintain a server, hire a large IT staff or — in some cases — keep a compliance officer.
Now your organization may be thinking about going to the Cloud, creating new concerns about how you'll securely manage sensitive data when healthcare providers work from home or data is coming in from patients' medical devices.
If these data management and security concerns sound familiar to you, it may be time to consider Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft Office and healthcare organizations
You might not think of Microsoft Office as being on the cutting edge of medical technology.
In fact, you may think of Microsoft Office as Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint and you might be wondering what it has to do with medicine.
If that's the case, let's pause for a moment.
Microsoft Office has evolved quite a bit since it moved to the Cloud in 2011. Office 365 is a complete, HIPAA-compliant suite of software made up of — at present — between 12 and 14 applications, depending on the package you subscribe to.
The products and features offered by Office 365 are designed to help your organization with collaborative work and data management; apps like Teams and Yammer allow your organization to collaborate and communicate with off-site employees. Products like Power BI allow anyone to crunch numbers and build reports based on the data your organization is generating. SharePoint allows for collaborations and file-sharing with all your employees, onsite and remote.
All of these apps are available under a single sign-in on everyone's devices.
An organization isn't expected to use every Office product — healthcare providers can pick and choose products, based on their needs and use cases.
Some organizations, for example, use Skype to provide virtual house calls with homebound patients. A small mental health organization might simply use Office 365 as a secure way for therapists to work and file reports from home. A radiology group that serves several hospitals may use SharePoint for data management — creating a database for every healthcare provider they work with.
In fact, Microsoft partners like Omni and ITP allow clients to manage their own licenses, creating a license based on what they need and paying for only what they use.
A word about security
Up until recently, most data management at healthcare organizations took place on-premise. Hospitals and other providers maintained secure email and file servers on site. Legacy systems were comprised of products from 10 or 15 vendors knit together into a patchwork solution maintained and updated by on-premise staff.
The cloud has made it possible to do away with such measures but the idea of moving regulated, sensitive data to a database owned by a vendor may make some healthcare organizations a little nervous.
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It's a fair concern. Healthcare organizations have experienced an uptick in data breaches in the last decade; according to the most recent reports from HIPAA Journal, there have been more than 200 HIPAA breaches this year. The cause of many of those breaches were hackers.
While security concerns are understandable, security in data management is also the best reason to move to Microsoft 365. Office 365 is entirely HIPAA compliant and all customers receive access to its compliance portal. Because Microsoft is one of the largest corporations in the world, it has compliance and security resources beyond what most organizations can provide on their own.
By moving to Office 365, healthcare providers – even small healthcare organizations – are getting a piece of that compliance organization. They also have the peace of mind of knowing that some of their most vulnerable systems, like chat and email, have been moved to a service that is both compliant and secure.
Learn more about Office and healthcare
Interested in learning more about how to use Office 365 in the healthcare industry?
Omni and ITP, both leading Microsoft partners in Wisconsin, hosted a webinar covering the basics of Office 365 for healthcare organizations.