In recent years many organizations are finding out that they are spending a lot on technology.
So we ask ourselves are we better off hiring our own HIT (Healthcare IT) to support all this complicated environment?
Is it worth to have someone 8:00 to 5:00 in the practice to solve our technical challenges? Some even are saying that they can afford to have an IT person on staff for the amount they spent last year on an outside IT vendor?
Many of the above questions are valid. As we look at some of the medical groups that either use an IT firm or have an internal person we notice that each has its advantages and disadvantages.
In house IT person:
- Immediate support (no delays or phone calls needed)
- Costs are always fixed and in budget
- The person know how the practice works and the workflow
- Single point of contact for all technical needs
- Extra set of hands to use for other items if the IT queue is low
- Coordinate and manage projects that involve multiple vendors
- lower cost
- Limited knowledge (one person can not be an expert in all IT technologies)
- Some IT personnel are very talented in technology but not knowledgeable in the healthcare domain
- Having one person responsible for all IT can be too risky.
- You get what you pay for (Being technical might not mean good project management or being on board with organizational goals)
- Noway of knowing if the work is done properly and the best practices have been used
- With an outside company you actually hire a whole group of talents (server support, workstations, PMS, Interfacing, Medical Imaging, Integration,..etc..)
- Having access to a group with extensive experience in the healthcare market
- Accountability tend to be greater here as it is a company not an individual
- Not one single point of support (Having a group know your infrastructure means that if one Tech is not available, then there are many others that can take over and get you up and running.)
- Provide integration ideas and solutions to improve efficiency and lower costs
- provide best processes and procedures (procedures on disaster recovery, backups, security, HIPAA, asset management, monitoring system health..)
- Can we say $$$$$
- Response time is slower than inhouse IT staff
- you sometimes get support from someone who is not familiar with your infrastructure which drives costs up.
- Sometimes vendors are selling more than what is needed
In today's Healthcare, not one method is better than the other. Just like everything in life, it is a balance that creates the best results. The best pattern to use here if you are a large practice would be to have an inhouse IT person that can handle the day to day issues, but also hire an outside healthcare IT vendor to become your virtual CIO. This way, the HIT can be the top layer that can keep an eye on your infrastructure through continuous audits, and meetings and also provide solutions and direction when it comes to projects that will affect the practice. Some might argue "well what if I don't have enough IT work to be done for this person?" Then the other option would be to negotiate with HIT vendor to get a Hosted IT person. You can pay a set amount of dollars and they can provide you for a term of 6 months or more an IT person that can report to your practice everyday just like one of your employees. This means will also allow you to have access to the "Virtual CIO" for your practice and have an IT person that you can decide to terminate when you choose to.
Now if you are a small practice and none of the above options are valid, then you will find that the best way is to look for a local IT vendor that supports other medical offices and has a good reputation. They should be able to provide you with good support and for a fair price. But still consider paying for an outside consulting to come in once a quarter and tell you what are some of the technologies that are out there that can help you become more efficient and improve patient care.
With all these new initiatives and constant changes in Healthcare technology. From e-Perscription to RFID technology, EMR, and PHR how can anyone know for sure what would truly have the highest ROI for their practice. Most IT vendors can provide the same type of support for equipment, but the key is to have a company that can act as a virtual CIO for your group. A vendor that can work with the Office manager or the Practice Director and help them implement the right technology that goes along with their organizational goals.