Three Challenges of Implementing Mobile Healthcare and How Cloud Can Help

Three Challenges of Implementing Mobile Healthcare and How Cloud Can Help

Both healthcare providers and patients have a lot to gain from mobile healthcare technology. From accessing care from home through a teleconsult to physicians being able to use all systems regardless of location, mobile healthcare presents opportunities for both cost savings and optimized care.

While healthcare may have more to gain from mobility strategies when compared to other industries, it also has more challenges standing in the way. Luckily, secure cloud environments can address some of the issues. The following are just a sampling of the roadblocks that are creating delays in the ability to adopt mobile healthcare as the standard for care:

Security and compliance: Every enterprise is losing sleep at night over securing data, but those in the healthcare industry have more to monitor and to lose than the typical organization. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) holds healthcare enterprises to a specific standard of compliance and security, with specific regulations about patient data that also impact providers and third parties.

This concern is balanced with the need for data access in order to efficiently and accurately diagnose and care for patients, utilizing their health history and current medications in a timely manner.

Cloud computing such as desktop as a service (DaaS) and other cloud environments can address the security concerns of the healthcare organization looking at mobility. A business cloud services provider should be able to convey exactly how secure a healthcare organizations’ data will be once it moves to the cloud.

Complexity: Introducing mobility into a healthcare organization can seem like adding a whole layer of complexity on top of an already-complex IT environment. And it can be exactly that if a healthcare organizations’ IT personnel and technology aren’t ready for the networking challenge of mobile. 

Cloud environments can alleviate the inevitable complex nature of adding mobility to a healthcare organization’s IT landscape. With entire infrastructure in the cloud, hosted on secure environments, and managed by a reliable business cloud services provider, an organization’s network will not only support mobility, but flourish with it. 

Customization: Every organization is different — some may have more localized needs, more app-based needs, or more remote networking needs. With going mobile, there is no “one size fits all” model for every healthcare operation, so mobile healthcare services have the challenge of not only finding the right solution but implementing it. 

Custom cloud environments help healthcare businesses navigate the new world of mobility regardless of what kind of network configurations, security requirements, or control they need to have. Business cloud services providers like Effortless walk healthcare organizations through initial audits and steps to figure out what kinds of customizable elements they will need as part of their mobility strategy to make it seamless and glitch-free. The cloud is a natural fit for customization needs, and any healthcare organization thinking about moving to a more mobile model will need to explore cloud options.

To learn more about the developing technology for mobile healthcare or to discuss cloud solutions that deliver maximum uptime and robust security features for your healthcare environment, contact us at Effortless.

The Changing Role of the CIO and the Emergence of Cloud

The Changing Role of the CIO and the Emergence of Cloud

By Randy Muyargas – Vice President, Information Security & Technology for WorkCare

As we continue to integrate the cloud, it won’t be long before we become accustomed to the benefits it brings and take it for granted. Just like how electricity, fax machines, phones, and WiFi used to provide a competitive advantage for businesses, now they’re simply a part of our landscape of work. Without them, you can’t be in business. Like a conveyor belt, it all keeps moving.

Similarly, the cloud used to provide a competitive advantage through two main components: cloud-based applications (such as Salesforce, Smartsheet, Payroll, and others) and having an entire network infrastructure and servers in the cloud. The latter has now become a way for businesses to put their whole computing operations in the cloud. It still provides an advantage, but it will – or at least it should – become part of the landscape of work for businesses.

So how does this transition into the cloud change the role of the CIO and benefit smaller businesses while encouraging growth?

Executive Level IT as Part of a Landscape With Effortless

Having a cloud environment like Effortless host your entire infrastructure can open the door to new opportunities and allow room for growth. Instead of having an IT person or team entirely dedicated to security, outsourcing it and moving it to the cloud will enable you to focus on what really matters. Not only will it be more cost-effective, but you can stop worrying about it entirely.

At WorkCare, our executive-level IT is now more high level and more strategic thanks to Effortless. Having them host our network infrastructure has allowed us to shift our attention to adding value to the company. Our team is now freed to look outward and onwards, not inwards into the company.

Before the cloud, executive-level IT were bound by their responsibility of keeping the lights on. Now, they’re given the opportunity to become a part of the strategic thinking of the company and help find the next advantage, technology, or solution while it’s still a competitive advantage provider.

Take the Leap to the Cloud

Although the cloud has been in use since the late 90s, the world’s infrastructure has not caught up yet. Therefore, it’s time to consider cloud in your business. Choosing a concierge experience like Effortless will help your business stay relevant and focused on growth.

Overcoming Healthcare IT Pain Points

Overcoming Healthcare IT Pain Points

Given the severe penalties for data breaches, healthcare IT professionals for years were reluctant to embrace cloud managed services. The fear was that the cloud was not secure. Today, as more healthcare facilities understand the security offered in the cloud, they are utilizing the cloud to their advantage – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pain points to address.

Compliance

Healthcare IT professionals must work around the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPAA) requirements and security concerns while trading important data. Self-service implementation and telemedicine are often areas of greatest concern. The right cloud provider will help healthcare organizations stay compliant and manage their paperless processes. 

EHR Concerns

Electronic health records, or EHR, have drastically improved the way medical data is processed and stored. But navigating various EHR systems can be frustrating. The right business cloud services provider will help you prioritize what is best for your healthcare organization and ensure ease-of-use makes the top of the list. Keep in mind that the cloud provider you select to help you with EHR should have third-party application support for the EHR and should have experience navigating the system’s complexities.

Disaster Recovery

It’s tough for healthcare organizations to keep up with everyday requirements like compliance without having to worry about a disaster hitting their businesses. Most healthcare organizations are unhappy with their disaster recovery plans – if they have them. Yet this is an undeniably crucial element for any healthcare system, especially in light of compliance requirements. The right business cloud services provider will walk you through questions and steps to take to ensure your organization can withstand a disaster and maintain your data security. 

Reducing IT Labor Costs

Healthcare organizations have particularly thorny expenses when it comes to maintaining IT and compliance. But those high costs can be addressed with the right cloud environment and that doesn’t mean the IT team needs to fear for its life. Instead, cloud helps healthcare elevate the right IT staff to more high-level positions. They become strategic elements of the business, instead of being mired in the weeds of maintaining IT all day. 

Reducing Capital Expenditure

IT infrastructure development and management grows more complex by the year, and healthcare organizations are burdened by that growth. But moving to the cloud enables healthcare to offload not only the complexities of IT, but the CapEx costs associated with it as well. Cloud solutions are often billed on a subscription basis, and healthcare organizations no longer have to spend on maintenance or repair for their own computing. 

Cloud is designed to address all these pain points. It may just be a matter of finding the right provider.

At Effortless, we have over 15 years of experience as a business cloud services provider. We provide enterprise-grade, highly secure cloud environments. If you’re too familiar with any of the pain points addressed above, contact us today and let’s work on a solution for your organization.

10 Reasons You Should Choose a Business Cloud Services Provider

10 Reasons You Should Choose a Business Cloud Services Provider

The introduction of cloud technology into your IT infrastructure will add new layers to your environment. With a business cloud services provider, you can avoid downtime, mitigate security threats, and avoid costly data loss as you migrate to the cloud. The right provider can also help fill in the gaps in your IT management.

 

There are 10 reasons you should consider investing in a business cloud services provider:

 
  1. Cost savings: Running a full IT department is often not realistic for a small or mid-size business, but those businesses still want high-performing networks and business agility with the right technology. The right cloud expert manages many of the technologies you would have to hand over to an IT department without the associated cost.
  2. A predictable invoice: When you use a business cloud services provider, you decide what your budget is for IT, and you spend that amount each month.
  3. Future-proof your business: An in-house IT team would have to handle upgrades and training, spending time and resources to decide what emerging technologies will be worth it for your business. But your cloud provider will handle the advancing technology for you.
  4. Customized service: You’ll be able to choose a plan that’s tailored for your exact needs, whether that’s a pay-per-service model or a converged solution that handles security monitoring and network management.
  5. Infrastructure support: A business cloud services provider will offer a solid network infrastructure with round-the-clock monitoring and support. Depending on how the service agreement is structured, the right provider will be able to scan and monitor the network for patch requirement and security monitoring.
  6. Centralized management and service: The provider manages all applications and servers in their own data center, which allows your mobile employees to access the network. You’ll be able to build backup and storage into the centralized network.
  7. Excellent service: The longer you work with your business cloud services provider, the more they’ll know your business and offer a seamless level of service. A comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) offers the highest level of service with the right provider.
  8. Business continuity: In the event of a natural disaster or other event that might threaten your business, the redundancy and resiliency you get with the right business cloud services provider means that your company will experience little downtime and minimal interruption.
  9. Response times: Your business cloud services provider will be able to respond quickly to any problem because of remote monitoring and management. The right provider will be able to access and repair any network problems remotely.
  10. Vendor interfacing: When a technology issue involves a vendor, your business cloud services provider can contact the vendor directly and resolve the issue without your involvement.
 

These benefits reduce your costs and help address the growing complexity of cloud migration, but there’s also opportunity for growth and innovation when you’re freed from the daily monitoring and management of your IT infrastructure and applications. Contact us at Effortless to learn more about how a business cloud services provider can help you optimize not only your IT environment, but also help drive growth for your enterprise.

DaaS Is Fueling Healthcare Industry Growth

DaaS Is Fueling Healthcare Industry Growth

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is experiencing an increase in adoption as more enterprises realize they can fulfill their highest mission through the cloud. A recent report by Technavio projected the DaaS market to increase by over 40% by 2020. And some of that increase may be tied to healthcare industry growth. The use of DaaS to support healthcare services helps organizations streamline costs and security.

What is DaaS? This technology accesses a virtual desktop that’s maintained by a cloud provider. Everyone in the organization is connected on a single platform, making it easy for employees to access the desktop through a mobile device. IT is no longer required to maintain an army of physical desktop computers or the infrastructure to support them.

Ways that DaaS supports healthcare industry growth:

Collaboration: Healthcare is moving toward more collaboration, and with the entire organization working from one platform, your organization will be empowered for this trend. Even geographically dispersed locations are able to work together in real time, allowing for faster, more-informed decision-making.

Security: All healthcare providers must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It’s becoming more effective to run DaaS as a way to centralize security rather than running all systems on in-house infrastructure. If you choose a cloud provider that is HIPAA-compliant, it removes much of the work surrounding security.

Healthcare breaches are often the result of a stolen laptop, so it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether it’s better to have data stored on multiple devices that can be stolen, or in a single cloud-based server that is well-protected by the provider.

Mobility: Whether your employees are simply moving around different floors or attending meetings out of state, DaaS allows them to work from anywhere. Even if a doctor or nurse is simply on another floor and needs to check their schedule for an appointment, DaaS makes it easy and convenient.

Scalability: With any cloud service, it’s easy to scale up and down as necessary. You’ll only pay for the number of users you need, but you can also add or remove more team members in a matter of minutes.

Innovation: Utilizing DaaS allows your team to access the latest apps and tools available to the healthcare industry. For example, there are new technologies emerging that involve artificial intelligence, automating workflows, or providing streamlined decision-making tools for patient care.

Supporting healthcare industry growth as it drives down to your specific organization hinges on finding innovative ways to cut costs. DaaS improves productivity, empowers collaboration, and cuts costs by removing hardware maintenance, troubleshooting, and updates from the internal IT team’s workload.

To learn more about how DaaS empowers your organization to take part in healthcare industry growth, contact us at Effortless. From helping you trim your IT budget while also capturing the power of disruptive technology, we can guide you through the transition to DaaS. Take a look at our free download for more information.

Putting HIPAA Compliance and Security in Their Proper Roles

Putting HIPAA Compliance and Security in Their Proper Roles

If you handle protected health information (PHI) or you’re a business partner of an organization that handles PHI, you’re responsible for meeting the rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A failure to meet HIPAA compliance can result in heavy fines, so it’s important to prioritize the measures.

The mistake many organizations make is handling HIPAA compliance and security interchangeably, as if they were one and the same. While HIPAA may fall within a bigger security structure in your business continuity plan, it cannot replace a full security strategy. Here are a few of the common misconceptions around HIPAA compliance and security:

Security and compliance are not the same thing. Your security strategy is an ongoing set of tools that monitor and address the physical, technical, and administrative aspects safeguarding your electronic protected health information (ePHI). Healthcare compliance, including HIPAA, is the process of following rules, regulations, and laws that relate to healthcare practices. Compliance in healthcare can cover a wide variety of practices and observe internal and external rules. Oversight of compliance is done with auditing and monitoring to take a snapshot, in a moment of time, for reporting purposes in order to prove that the requirements have been met.

Meeting HIPAA compliance will not check the security box. Compliance requirements can be so detailed that you may make the mistake of believing that if you check each requirement off, you’ve also met some pretty high standards for a security strategy.

This is a critical mistake. HIPAA compliance includes a set of rules that change slowly, while your security strategy should be created with an eye towards an ever-changing threat that shifts on a daily basis. Compliance only involves working to make sure that certain practices and policies are in place and it generally is attended to annually. This kind of framework is woefully inadequate for security management, which requires a cohesive, layered approach.

Compliance doesn’t work well as a blueprint for security. Using compliance to build a security strategy is ineffective because it leaves your organization vulnerable. Your security program needs to be built from the ground up, with compliance, including HIPAA and HITECH as a integral piece of the comprehensive approach.

Now that you’ve got a clear picture of why compliance can’t drive your security program, it’s easy to see why a technology solutions provider must be able to meet your expectations on both fronts:

  • Not all security solutions are equal. If it only provides the bare minimum of controls when it comes to compliance, you should look elsewhere.

  • Choose a technology partner that is versed in healthcare compliance. You need them to produce audits and demonstrate how they will support your security and compliance needs.

  • Look for multilayered security, so that if one device or tool fails, you’re still protected.

  • Prioritize transparency. You should receive clear and open answers about how your data is being protected. Cover the “what if” scenarios early on.

To continue the conversation around compliance and security, contact us at Effortless. We are the experts in both, and offer enterprise-grade cloud solutions for healthcare organizations. We can help you build the security program you need to minimize your vulnerability, while also being fully prepared for a compliance audit.

Steps to Reduce Risk Related to HIPAA Compliance

Steps to Reduce Risk Related to HIPAA Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in the U.S. in 1996 when it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It created new protections for patient health information. It also created – in the case of all healthcare providers, insurance companies and their business associates – a potential for overburdening with policies and the risk of fines and penalties associated with HIPAA compliance.

Even the initial policy creation for HIPAA compliance can be costly and time-consuming. For those charged with protecting private health information, there are steps that can be put into place to mitigate some of the burden of protection and minimize the risk of failing to meet HIPAA compliance requirements.

Budget for ongoing maintenance. Some organizations make the mistake of budgeting enough for initial policy set-up, but neglect to set aside enough funds for ongoing maintenance and technical support for compliance. The regulations associated with private health information change often, and enterprises must plan for continual updating and training.

Prioritize staff training. Enterprises often invest in software designed specifically to manage HIPAA compliance, but it’s also a good idea to invest heavily in staff training. It’s critical to continually prioritize training for staff who handle patient records in ways that are applicable for their roles. It’s also important that staff know the steps to take if there’s an incident related to HIPAA.

Staff training materials should always be presented in easy to understand terms. Too often, staff are presented with policies in language that only an attorney can interpret, making it challenging for employees to follow policy effectively.

Consider a cloud provider. In many cases, the best way to handle HIPAA compliance is to outsource it to a cloud provider who specializes in the policies and security necessary to protect private health information. This may be a cost-effective solution for enterprises that want to allow their employees to focus on core business functions, rather than HIPAA policy.

Say “no” to on-site data. With data on your site, you could lose millions of dollars if employees walk out the door with physical devices that host confidential or sensitive data. With data on physical laptops and other devices, your risk for data loss – and therefore financial and reputational loss – is huge. With Effortless, you don’t have on-site data, or even laptops or computers if you’ve replaced them with Zero Clients. We eliminate the fear of employees walking out with sensitive data by eliminating the physical devices from your business equation. 

Ultimately, keep three steps in mind when setting up HIPAA compliance policy. 

It doesn’t matter what size the organization, there are some key components of any compliance program:

  • Identify the information being handled, in what ways it is being used and the rules that apply to that information.

  • Take the appropriate steps to protect that information, both with internal measures and those of third-party business partners.

  • Ensure those steps are being appropriately applied, through employee training, regular reviews and necessary adjustments to policy.

Post-compliance After your business has its HIPAA policy in place, there are still common ways to trip up and potentially violate compliance rules. The top five most common violations of HIPAA include: 

  • lost and stolen devices

  • hacking

  • improper disposal

  • lack of training

  • unsecured records

Luckily, there are solutions to prevent those types of violations. Sonya Meline, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Effortless, suggests looking at solutions in four EASY steps:

E: Education is key for preventing HIPAA violation. Attend free webinars on YouTube, check out helpful sites including HHS.gov and CMS.gov, and ensure you have annual HIPAA training scheduled. 
A: Analyze where your organization stands on a regular basis. Introduce a HIPAA report card, and perform on-site IT audit and risk assessments. (Third parties can help here.) 
S: Secure (protected health information) PHI by saying “No” to thumb drives and CDs and using secure clouds. 
Y: You can take responsibility for ensuring all the aspects of your HIPAA policy are in place and bringing the company together to ensure compliance.

HIPAA compliance doesn’t have to be a burden. To discuss strategies for policy implementation and the benefits of cloud, contact us at Effortless Office.

A Primer on Compliance for Healthcare

A Primer on Compliance for Healthcare

With rising operating costs, concerns about protecting patient records, and meeting the demands necessary to maintain compliance, the healthcare industry is facing more challenges every day. Take a look at this primer to better understand the role of those in compliance for healthcare organizations, and how they support those businesses that fall under stringent regulatory guidelines.

Compliance for healthcare covers ample territory, from protecting patient records from a security breach to adequately meeting certain regulations for patient care. All are designed for the protection of patients, but that purpose often gets lost in the effort to avoid fines and penalties. Full-time compliance roles are not only common for most healthcare organizations, they are actually required.

Healthcare compliance is, in short, the practice of following rules, laws, and regulations in order to meet expectations for organizations involved in healthcare. This means not just healthcare providers like clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices, but also health insurance companies, medical device manufacturers, and more. 

Also, every single one of these entities (called covered entities) have associates they work with who are called Business Associates. These include, but are not limited to – you guessed it – cloud providers.

This means that a cloud provider that handles data storage is considered a Business Associate under Federal regulations, and they must comply with the same regulations as the healthcare company itself. This ensures that the records housed in the provider’s care are protected according to the regulations. To better understand the different areas of healthcare compliance and the governance of those areas, here is a short list to start with:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 put protections surrounding patient privacy into effect, requiring every healthcare organization to use measures that secure patient records.

  •  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act instituted new measures for insurance, Medicaid and other areas.

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration oversee the creation and safe distribution of medications.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services protects against fraud, along with the Office of the Inspector General.

  • The Social Security Act oversees compliance and funding for Medicaid and Medicare.

Creating a compliance program: In many organizations, compliance for healthcare is handled by a dedicated team, but some organizations that are not primarily focused on healthcare may struggle to dedicate a team of employees to compliance. For Business Associates of healthcare providers, there are some steps to implement a compliance program that will help meet the demands of HIPAA and other regulations:

Get educated on necessary compliance elements: The Office of the Inspector General provides specific guidelines for creating a compliance program.

Designate a compliance officer: While an organization may not have an employee that’s specifically hired to handle compliance, the initiative requires ownership by someone in the organization that can mobilize efforts surrounding compliance and stay up to date on the latest requirements. This person should have significant education in healthcare compliance and be fully dedicated to this task.

Invest in a policy management solution: It’s important to distribute established policies and regulations, and a policy management software can help the organization stay on task with tracking which employees have read and signed the policies. There are also training management software solutions that help companies keep their employees current on the latest changes in compliance.

Consider partnering with a cloud provider who specializes in healthcare: The cloud is a cost-effective way for healthcare organizations to maintain HIPAA-compliant applications, storage, and networking. If you are responsible for bringing a compliance solution to a healthcare company, cloud may be the way to go. You can improve existing infrastructure to support critical operations and improve the adherence to healthcare compliance standards for technology all at one time. Plus, if you select the right provider, everything can be built to scale and by professionals who understand the world of healthcare.

In closing, a provider of enterprise-grade cloud solutions can help a healthcare organization determine which cloud services will best fit their needs, and functions as a trusted advisor for compliance in healthcare.

To learn more about tools and solutions for handling compliance management, contact us at Effortless.

Should You Consider Desktop as a Service for Cyber Security?

Should You Consider Desktop As A Service for Cyber Security

 

Desktop as a service (DaaS) is known for its convenience angle; if you’re ever away from your desk, you have access to all the files you’d normally have as if your desktop were wherever you happen to be. But there’s another angle to DaaS that organizations are considering more and more: the unexpected benefits to security.

Cloud-based reputation.

DaaS is a cloud-based system, and users have been suspicious of cloud-based systems since they emerged. Thus, DaaS providers have had to deliberately, and visibly, beef up security to fight misconceptions and gain a market. Because data and applications are in the cloud with DaaS, they aren’t vulnerable to the breaches that so often take place at the edge of the network.

Reduced dependence on endpoints. “Ever lose a laptop on a business trip? Leave a tablet in an Uber ride?” asks Effortless founder and CEO, Ben Gayheart. “What about twice in one week? I know I have! But for me, and our clients, that is not a huge loss. If that’s your desktop, then all those files are lost for good, or possibly stolen.”

With DaaS, the desktop and its assets are kept in the cloud, away from the endpoints. This makes the device merely an access point for the desktop instead of the desktop itself.

Compliance

With mounting compliance concerns, it’s important to consider how DaaS can offload these requirements and reduce risk. Data breaches often take place at the edge of the network. So, DaaS is an attractive security option because data and applications reside in the cloud, rather than on vulnerable end-user devices. DaaS also helps alleviate another challenge associated with BYOD by enabling a consistent set of security controls across mobile devices, regardless of operating system or hardware.

Finally, cloud service providers typically have far greater security resources available to them than in-house IT staff. Thus, DaaS customers can leverage the security expertise of their service providers to improve their security and compliance posture.

Ransomware’s teeth pulled. We all know ransomware’s biggest threat is the ability to take our hardware and lock it down, to be possibly restored to us when we pay the ransom required. If our data, however, is stored in a separate location, ransomware goes from a disaster to an inconvenience. The device used to access the data may be locked irretrievably, but the data itself is separate and safe. And if it finds its way to the virtual desktop, and you have a good provider, they can just roll you back a few hours in time, and it’s like nothing happened. Not so scary anymore, are you ransomware?

Burden of protection shifted. “Many companies are using their IT departments as IT security departments, as the SOC team, incident response team, and more! This leaves much to be desired in the way of checks and balances. It might work for some time, but it can be a real strain on already-stretched assets and valuable team members” says Gayheart. A well-built cloud system has its own defenses at the provider level, so your IT department can refocus its efforts. Additionally, the right DaaS provider can deliver amazing support for each user of the desktop in the cloud, addressing common issues from “How do I stop my out of office in MS Outlook” to “I need a new application installed.” This added support frees up IT staff from both attending to those needs and from worrying the staff may compromise the network.

When You’re Ready for Desktop-as-a-Service Operations

The combination of convenience and security makes DaaS doubly valuable, and when you’re ready for DaaS to help you improve your business, just get in touch with us at Effortless. With your Effortless Desktop, you can be sure that your desktop – and its related files and applications – are always on hand when and where you need them. And that your data will be housed in the most secure cloud environment in the world. Contact us today to learn more.