The Client Perspective – Rising Technology Costs

By Jean Hansen, COO at Umbrella Managed Systems

As a Clinic Administrator, I always disliked this time of year. The weather turns cold, scheduling around the holidays is a challenge, and staff are looking forward to holiday bonuses and salary increases. Top all of that off with the hardest part of the job – budget season.

Healthcare practices face a unique set of challenges when it comes to budgeting. Few businesses are restricted from passing rising costs along to the customer (the patient in our case). From salaries and employee benefit increases to rent cost escalation clauses, Clinic Administrators are tasked with finding financial solutions from an already overburdened checkbook. There just aren’t many options for bringing in more revenue when you are a small to mid-sized clinic.

A real culprit in the fight for profitability is the technology line item on your budget. To maintain existing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels, providers were expected to implement an electronic health record (EHR). Almost overnight, technology rose to your number two expense; with personnel costs maintaining the lead.

The cost to maintain the system and keep the software updated has become a delicate balancing act. Plus, unlike other types of software, you have no choice but to keep everything current due to regulatory requirements to keep your software and workstations upgraded.

For instance, were you aware that an outdated operating system can result in fines?

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) covered the topic in their June 2018 Cybersecurity Newsletter. Patching system vulnerabilities is a requirement under the HIPAA Security Rule. When an operating system exits its support lifecycle, patches to resolve new vulnerabilities stop. Microsoft® is one company which recently announced support for several operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, will end in approximately 13 months.

That doesn’t leave much time to coordinate upgrades – especially since Allscripts and other major EHR vendors have declared Windows 7 incompatible with their systems. That means your very expensive EHR software may not work on unsupported computers after December 2019.

When I was a client, I trusted Umbrella to stay on top of these developments. As my MSP, I expected technical expertise and strategic planning to keep my technology working. Over time, this helped me drive down costs, as I wasn’t rushing to catch up.

Since joining Umbrella, I have learned so much about the services and programs offered by the company. For Clinic Administrators looking to control costs while staying compliant, I suggest asking about the new ITMS 3.0 program. Features include an annual ‘tech refresh’ program, strategic planning assistance, and group pricing discounts on hardware.

I’m pleased Heath and Trent strive to stay client-centric, updating services that keep the customer perspective firmly in mind.

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