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This month we are discussing the value of updating your current technology. We’ll be using Medical Offices as our example, but in reality, this information is important to all small businesses. In this week’s blog, we will discuss the pitfalls of sticking your head in the sand by being resistant to change.

Let’s assume that everything we’ve said about upgrading your technology resonated with you, and you agree 100% — now what? Well, decisions have to be made. What kind of hardware will you be using? What about the software? When do you plan to make these changes, and what’s your budget? Do you plan to hire outside people for this undertaking or do you plan to use a vendor? Perhaps the most crucial question of all is, who will make the final decisions?

This might seem like an odd question. Yet the truth is many offices don’t have a go-to person for these types of decisions. Or maybe the person who is currently in charge of this may be too busy, too distracted, or not the best person to ask.

Who is your Decision Maker?

One of the biggest problems with a lot of medical practices is that they often don’t work like your typical business. While most traditional companies might have an owner, a president, or simply a manager, this isn’t always the case when it comes to doctors.

Medical practices, like attorney firms, typically use a partnership model where they may have more than five or six doctors who own the business. And, most of the time, all of them are involved in making the larger decisions. While it’s true they often use office managers, these positions usually only handle the day-to-day operations. They don’t have the authority to make decisions for large purchases or contracts. Even if there is only one person in charge, the decision may still not be an easy one.

A Question of Qualification

There is no doubt that doctors are qualified to do their jobs. Few professions require as much education and experience before they can start their career path. Even so, that expertise does not extend to understanding the technology in their offices. Why is it that someone with the skills to cut you apart then put you back together can look like a deer in headlights when confronted about servers, cloud systems, and cybersecurity? Probably because this was never taught to them in their years of medical school.

In defense of these physicians, there is a lot more to IT than simply understanding computers. For instance, understanding budgeting is an essential part of any IT decision. Even if you have the money, buying everything available won’t fix everything if you don’t have a plan. Having a thorough understanding of the specific needs — including future needs — of the office is crucial before spending a single penny.

Also, healthcare systems are some of the most difficult to set up and manage. This is due to strict government regulations regarding patient privacy. While there are plenty of great software programs that can help the office run smoothly, HIPPA compliance should be at the front of your mind before implementing anything. Sadly, it seems that many software programs (and even operating systems) don’t go out of their way to answer whether or not they are HIPPA compliant. You’ll need people who can find out that information to help you make the correct decision.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

It’s no secret that technology is moving at breakneck speeds these days. If you’re not making efforts to keep up, you can fall behind in a blink of an eye. New solutions for storage, operating systems, and security are developed almost daily. Also, there may be a need to upgrade systems for other reasons. Like when it’s becoming clear that your needs are growing or evolving.

Again, this process is difficult for any business but much more so in a medical environment, mostly because of HIPPA compliance. This may either lead a practice to fall out of compliance or choose to forgo upgrading in general to avoid that situation, even at the expense of efficiency. A major reason for this is a lack of guidance. People who focus on a very specific specialty can be unaware or unsure of what needs to be done with their business.

This can cause major problems down the line. Unfortunately, the most common solution to this problem tends to be a piecemeal replacement process. A computer here or a printer there may seem like a reasonable way to get things done. However, the fact is that it ends up costing a lot more than regular replacements of all outdated equipment at once. Additionally, sporadic upgrades make migrating files and systems much more complicated. Trouble arises when different pieces of equipment are running various operating systems or even outdated software.

If you find yourself in this situation, it could lead to security breaches and lowered employee morale. Any downtime will lead to a loss of efficiency. If the problem started because there wasn’t a single person taking charge, it could be difficult to resolve these issues.

A Streamlined Solution

The best way to get your office on track is to make a formal decision as to who handles IT across the board. While you may want input from your various departments, a single, qualified person should be pulling the lever on these decisions.

Many businesses have chosen to go with an outside expert to provide these IT services, such as us. From our experience, when a single person or group meets with us to address the needs and current status of their office, we’re able to quickly work out a solution. Not only are we able to make sure that the needs of everyone in the office are met without hassle, but that everything ends up well within budget.

Contact us to see how we can be of service to you. You’ll be amazed by the positive atmosphere you can create with just a few changes to your IT.  But don’t worry — we’ll let you take all the credit!

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