It’s important to ensure your business is protected, which is now more difficult without security updates, new features, bug fixes or other updates. Upgrading is easy and will keep you well protected.
ISG Technology has multiple solutions for your business to limit disruption and deliver the latest features and benefits from Microsoft Office. Contact us today to upgrade without any interruption to your business.
Just as quickly as new technologies are developed to secure the information your organization is responsible for, cybercriminals are discovering new ways to get in. And to do it, they’re exploiting one thing – trust.
When you put ISG Technology to work for you, you don’t just put industry leading security experts on your team, you put security at the top of your priority list. You put the concern that someone might be selling you a short-sighted solution to the wayside. You put trust back where it belongs – on your side.
Get Our Whitepaper: 5 Things You Probably Trust, and How They Affect The Security Of Your Business
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Health care is an incredibly fast-paced industry. Even a few seconds’ hesitation can result in a patient’s death, so medical professionals are almost always strapped for time. Although this is simply the nature of the job, a solid way to improve efficiency is by implementing a robust communications solution.
A doctor needs a hefty amount of information to treat a patient, and other health care workers simply need to be able to talk to each other in order to complete their daily tasks. However, this sector has some very specific needs that can’t be solved by just any system.
So, what should health care administrators be looking for in a communications solution?
Security and compliance are the first concerns
“Health care is a huge target for hackers.”
Health care is a huge target for hackers, and for good reason. Those working in this industry need a lot of information about the patients they are treating, ranging from financial data to descriptions of potentially embarrassing diseases that could be used to blackmail the person.
The storing and transferring of these records through digital means has increased the attack surface, which is why lawmakers enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA is designed to protect the privacy rights of patients and ensure anyone involved in the medical process, whether they be doctors or insurance agents, take proper steps to increase security.
While keeping patient data out of the hands of hackers is a noble goal in itself, medical facilities also have a selfish reason to avoid a breach. According to a study from IBM, the average cost of a hacked medical record totaled $355. This is well above the overall average of $158, showing just how expensive a breach can be for those working in health care.
This is why it’s so important to invest in a secure and compliant communications system. Hackers know how much medical information is worth, and they’re eager to intercept messages containing this data. What’s more, overall security in health care is extremely lacking. A study from HIMSS Analytics and Symantec found that 80 percent of health care institutions put 6 percent or less of their IT budgets toward security.
While this issue needs to be addressed in its own right, allocating some of this spend toward a better communications infrastructure could be a huge step forward.
Uptime is vital
Another major aspect of health care communications that must be addressed is the importance of uptime. Medical workers need to be able to trade information on a regular basis throughout the day, and losing this ability could be incredibly dangerous.
A great example of this is the ransomware attack that befell the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California. This hospital was hit by a piece of malware that basically encrypts all the data stored on a network, which means staff members couldn’t access any patient information. After realizing the extent of the attack, hospital workers attempted to work around the issue by using fax machines and written notes, according to Digital Trends contributor Trevor Mogg.
While the hospital did end up getting its systems back online after paying a ransom to the hacker, this situation very clearly shows the fragility of a health care organization’s communications system. A single attack was able to send the facility back to the 1980s, causing an enormous headache for administrators.
Of course, hacking isn’t the only way that a communications infrastructure can go offline. Everything from lightning strikes to simple human error can easily have the same effect, and health care officials need to set up a system that can deal with these kinds of threats.
Your organization needs scalability
Stepping outside the realm of scary possibilities, medical facilities also have to plan for inevitable growth. A business is only doing well if it’s getting bigger, but this means that local systems need to increase as well.
Such an ability to grow is called scalability, and it’s incredibly important in all things IT. However, it’s perhaps most relevant in health care communications. As these organizations increase in size, they must hire new people and take on more patients than ever. When this happens, older solutions will start to show their age and won’t be able to handle the increased load. Therefore, a communications infrastructure needs a high level of scalability.
What about continued support?
When it comes to any IT solution, administrators need two things: training and continuous support. Although modern technology is becoming much easier to work as IT literacy increases, the only way to get everything out of a system is to be taught exactly how to use it. On top of that, employees need to know that they have an experienced professional they can call if they run into any issues that they can’t solve themselves.
This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced vendor like ISG Technology. We have a history of creating communications solutions for health care organizations, and we know what this industry needs. Our security procedures will help your facility stay HIPAA compliant and your systems online. On top of that, we can help you scale your communications system to meet your specific needs, and we offer training and round-the-clock support.
Communicating is incredibly important in health care, and administrators shouldn’t wait until their current solution fails in order to find another. Contact ISG Technology today to see how we can help your employees collaborate better.
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Microsoft has constantly been at the front of enterprise IT innovation, and for good reason. The company has a large suite of services that can help companies achieve their full efficiency potential, with perhaps the most important of these being Office 365. The Office collection of productivity tools has been a mainstay in the business world for decades, and the latest iteration is no different.
That said, certain industries like health care are hesitant to make a move on newer technologies. Medical facilities often have a very specific way of doing things, and changing up the regular routine can seem to be extremely disruptive. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Office 365 has a host of benefits for those working within this sector that simply cannot be ignored.
“When it comes to health care IT, the most important factor to consider is security.”
Of course, when it comes to health care IT, the most important factor to consider is security. Medical records carry a host of personally identifiable information, and if that data is compromised, it could lead to stolen identities or worse. In fact, this is such a huge issue that the federal government passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
HIPAA is regulatory legislation that governs how medical facilities can handle patient information. It’s basically designed to harshly penalize any actions that could lead to a breach. What’s more, a violation doesn’t have to be malicious or negligent. HIPAA Journal reported that a hospital can violate a rule completely by accident and still be liable for payments of up to $50,000 per incident.
With so much on the line, it’s no wonder that so many health care administrators are hesitant to change their current IT routine. What’s more, this fear of change has even generated the rumor that Office 365 cannot meet the security needs of a modern medical organization. Of course, this simply isn’t true.
Office 365 actually has more stringent standards than many other tools on the market, and we firmly stand behind the statement that you couldn’t build a more secure environment. Hospitals looking to improve security measures can seriously benefit from an Office 365 deployment.
Lower upfront costs
Outside of security, many medical facilities also have to deal with the constraint of tight budgets for the IT department. Running something like a hospital is incredibly expensive. Between the salaries for highly-trained professionals and the ever-increasing reliance on costly equipment, health care institutions just don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the technology solutions they use.
This is yet another area where Office 365 can help out. This suite of tools doesn’t require any pricey upfront costs, instead relying on a reasonable monthly fee. This allows organizations to make the switch to Office 365 without having to allocate a huge amount of money toward the venture right from the start.
Less maintenance work for IT departments
Another problem most health care organizations have to deal with is an overworked staff. Just about every department in a hospital is overrun with important tasks, but IT is very often one of the most strained departments in any medical facility. In fact, the 2014 HIMSS Workforce Survey found that 84 percent of these institutions had hired an IT worker in the past year, showing that there is an almost constant demand for experienced technology professionals.
Clearly, hospital IT departments have a very full schedule, and performing general maintenance on productivity tools is just another fire to put out. This is where working with an outside partner to develop an Office 365 solution comes into play. ISG Technology professionals can manage these issues for your organization, freeing up employees to work on internal projects.
However, it’s important to note here that such a deployment isn’t a threat to anybody’s job. ISG Technology doesn’t want to downsize your IT department, we want to help it crawl out from under the mountain of maintenance problems they have to deal with. Our IT experts are trained to make your life easier, so contact us today and find out what an Office 365 solution from ISG Technology can do for your business.
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Data is being created and stored at a rate unparalleled by any other time in human history. As such, the analysis of this information in order to discover trends has never been as important as it is now. This is especially true within health care, an industry that quite literally deals with life-or-death situations on a daily basis. Mining the data created by both patients and medical professionals has major implications for the field.
With that said, what can health care facilities get out of data mining, and what challenges stand in the way of this trend?
Efficiency while still being effective
As with most other industries, the main benefits of proper data mining are increases in both efficiency and client satisfaction. Knowing how consumers act and what they do can help employees better service them, while also decreasing time spent in areas that aren’t as productive. In health care, a good example of this is the mining of Medicaid data by the Wyoming Department of Health.
Officials from this agency decided that they were spending too much money on certain payments, and worked with Xerox to properly analyze the information they had been collecting for some time. This mining proved fruitful in many areas, but the most important one was emergency room visits. The analysis revealed that there was a sizeable portion of Medicaid patients that were going to the ER more than 10 times per year, according to Healthcare IT News contributor Erin McCann.
Two or three trips to the ER is just a bad year, but more than 10 visits means that something has gone wrong. This prompted Wyoming Medicaid employees to call these patients, verifying their status and taking steps to increase their level of personal care at home. The state also instituted a 24/7 nurse hotline to allow Medicaid patients to call in for medical help rather than going to the hospital. This enabled Wyoming to lower the costs of Medicaid ER visits by more than 20 percent, showing just how effective proper health care data mining can be.
The human element is the main disadvantage
“One of the biggest snags data mining has run into is human error.”
As it always is with technological innovations, one of the biggest snags data mining has run into is human error. Something as simple as accidentally including an extra data set due to sleep deprivation can have a major impact on the usefulness of the analysis. In fact, this problem is so apparent that an entire scientific paper sponsored by the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society was written on the subject.
The report – which was co-authored by Cheng-Jhe Lin, Changxu Wu and Wanpracha A. Chaovalitwongse – stated that researchers wishing to do away with human error must take a two-pronged approach. First, officials must take a top-down approach for implementing behavior modeling. These administrators must show employees what is expected of them if they ever hope to properly mine data. After this, analysts must take a bottom-up approach in order to determine who is making the most errors, as well as how many mistakes each person will most likely make in the future.
Data mining may have some hurdles to overcome in terms of human error, but this certainly won’t stop the process from continuing to work its way into health care. The medical industry is all about efficiency, and proper analysis of big data sets can help doctors and nurses improve patient care. What’s more, as the Wyoming Medicaid example shows, data mining can also help administrators determine where resources and time are being wasted, therefore giving them the ability to make changes to improve overall productivity.
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Health care data is heavily monitored in the U.S. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has very strict regulatory standards about how this kind of information can be handled. One wrong decision could result in some hefty fines, even if the person or organization didn’t know they were making a mistake. The American Medical Association has stated that even accidentally violating HIPAA could cost a medical facility up to $50,000 per violation.
Clearly, making a mistake when handling medical records isn’t an option, which is why ISG Technology works with health care providers to ensure they don’t stumble. But what exactly can ISG do for you?
“Accidentally violating HIPAA could cost a medical facility up to $50,000 per violation.”
Issues with security aren’t always apparent
The main advantage of partnering with ISG is that we can help you get ready for an actual HIPAA compliance audit by zeroing in on problems you might not even notice.
One of the main issues our engineers run into when assessing a hospital’s network is the fact that security credentials often aren’t taken as seriously as they should be. Basically, employees who only need to view certain kinds of data are often able to access information they shouldn’t be able to see. In an average hospital network, only about two or three employees should be given admin privileges. However, ISG experts often come into an assessment and find that 100 workers in a 700-user system will have domain admin accounts.
This is a problem because it creates a huge number of entry points for a hacker who can socially engineer her way into accessing one of these accounts. According to past experience recounted by security firm Social-Engineer, more than two-thirds of employees will provide a stranger with their information such as their birthday, Social Security number or their personal employee ID. A hacker could easily call into this hospital and use this information to trick a staff member into giving them login credentials to an admin account, thereby allowing the criminal free reign over a network.
ISG can help you fix these problems and pass an audit
HIPAA audits are extremely comprehensive, and getting a perfect score is next to impossible. In fact, as the above example shows, health care facilities often have numerous issues that they don’t even know about, which can decrease an organization’s standing if an auditor were to discover these problems.
ISG can help these facilities decrease the number of red flags to a manageable and reasonable number, thereby increasing the chances of passing an inspection. Health care data is extremely private, and ensuring its safety should be a top priority.
Formed in 1989, Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Company (KaMMCO) is the state’s largest liability insurer, serving physicians, hospitals, and other health care professionals. Headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, the member-directed company has three branch offices throughout the state and approximately 80 employees.
Formed by Kansas physicians, KaMMCO is a trusted insurance provider for approximately 3,700 health care professionals and facilities throughout Kansas and in the greater Kansas City area. However, its aging Nortel communication platform fell short of the company’s reputation, needs, and goals. Employees had to dial 800 numbers to connect with coworkers in any of the company’s four locations and they couldn’t transfer calls, which threatened to impact internal and client satisfaction.
In October 2006, as KaMMCO planned for a major addition to its headquarters, the company decided to upgrade its existing Nortel system to a more advanced Nortel VoIP solution that would allow direct interoffice calling. So when a company executive suggested to Andy Grittman, KaMMCO CIO and vice president of MIS, he meet with Salina, Kansas-headquartered ISG Technology, Inc., to explore a Cisco solution — he was hesitant.
In December 2006, Grittman somewhat reluctantly met with the 143-employee Cisco Premier Certified Partner with eight additional locations in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. “As a happy Nortel client, I was less than thrilled with the prospect of a Cisco telephone system,” explains Grittman. “But in the course of a two-hour meeting with ISG, I opened my mind to the possibility. And over the next several weeks, ISG demonstrated that Cisco was far more than just a telephone system. It’s a foundation that KaMMCO could build on to meet future needs. We signed the contract January 31, 2007.”
ISG began the five-month implementation in March 2007, installing a robust Cisco network infrastructure including Cisco Catalyst switches and Cisco Integrated Services Routers.
ISG also installed Cisco Unified Communications, a single system that provides powerful new ways to collaborate. To that, ISG added Cisco Unified Communications Manager, an IP telephony call processing system; Cisco Unity, a voice and unified messaging platform; and Cisco Unified MeetingPlace Express, an integrated voice-, video-, and Web-conferencing solution.
To enhance internal and client communication, ISG implemented a Cisco Digital Media System. The comprehensive suite of digital signage, enterprise TV, and desktop video applications allows KaMMCO to quickly and easily connect and collaborate.
ISG secured the infrastructure with Cisco Adaptive Security Appliances (ASAs) that stop attacks before they impact business continuity.
“The Cisco solution has made us a stronger organization across the board.”
Andy Grittman, KaMMCO CIO and vice president of MIS
“The Cisco solution has made us a stronger organization across the board,” says Grittman. “With four-digit dialing and video conferencing, we communicate instantly and more effectively between branches, which has increased productivity by about 20 percent and cut travel by as much as 90 percent.
“We’re also now able to deliver more services to our insureds without raising premiums, which better positions us nationally and globally as a vested partner in health-services delivery versus just another insurance company.
“One of my prerequisites for a new phone system was to be heavily involved in the implementation. While other technology providers might cringe at this, ISG embraced my desire for knowledge and made me an active participant during configuration and installation.
“We now have a reliable, scalable communication foundation to which we can cost-effectively add new technologies as we grow, and we’ll continue to partner with ISG and Cisco along that road.”
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As a client service-oriented radiology practice in Missouri, Advanced Radiology was feeling the pain. “Stability and speed are crucial to our ability to provide services to our patients and their physicians,” says James Aldridge, Director of Radiology for the company. “We had reached a point where our existing infrastructure would inhibit our growth unless we invested a significant amount of capital into a dozen new servers, storage devices and software.”
“ISG helped us implement a major network upgrade with virtual servers in a secure underground environment.”
James Aldridge, Director of Radiology, Advanced Radiology
Many businesses serving the healthcare industry are experiencing similar challenges. With new, rapid technological growth mandates, there’s a constant need for providers to upgrade to newer equipment and software. “The cost of equipment and the rate of change can cause not only an increase in capital expense, but a human expense in terms of training and time,” says Matt Jost, ISG account executive. “Technology has become a consuming factor for many healthcare providers, and that can distract from their core business focus.”
To help Advanced Radiology break through their barriers, ISG was able to test and evaluate their systems and propose different scenarios. “ISG’s knowledge and flexibility allowed us to tailor a solution that fit our budget and address each of our unique challenges,” says Aldridge. To start things off, ISG performed a complete network evaluation to determine best practices for the environment, taking the human element into consideration along with power, cooling, physical space and regulatory restrictions.
Based on the results of this evaluation, and the necessary requirements to meet the client’s business goals, ISG proposed two solutions. “One was to build out an internal data center with a virtual infrastructure,” says Jost. “The second was to reduce capital costs by migrating their IT infrastructure toward the ISG Data Center Service.”
“ISG helped us implement a major network upgrade with virtual servers in a secure underground environment, all connected to dual fiber rings, with a solid disaster recovery plan,” says Aldridge. “During this transition, we experienced very little downtime. They were able to simplify our backup process and help tighten our security.”
The results were better than either ISG or Advanced Radiology could have hoped for. In addition to the improved reliability and the elimination of outages, ISG’s Data Center Service has provided the client with additional flexibility for virtual assets. It’s also enabled migrations to new and more productive software solutions, minus the downtime.
“Advanced Radiology has a newfound agility thanks to the ISG Data Center,” says Jost. “They can add users, servers or other virtual assets within minutes,” he says, “and all without making a capital expenditure.”
The client couldn’t agree more. “ISG was able to update us to newer server technology, including both hardware and software,” says Aldridge. “With a newer operating system implementation, we were able to speed up our networks. ISG has been instrumental in our ability to continue our growth and migrate into newer systems.”
Are you interested in learning more about how switching to ISG’s Data Center Services could help your business thrive? Contact your ISG representative today.
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