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Finding the Right Managed IT Service Provider

Posted on January 23, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There’s been a lot of interest in my previous post about Managed IT Services versus Break and Fix IT services. In fact, you should read not only my post, but also some of the well done comments on that post as well. A nice discussion has taken place that people looking at IT support for their EMR or even their clinic in general should read it.

Beyond the discussion of whether you should go with a managed IT service or just bringing in IT support when something’s broken, I want to expand the discussion a little bit to talk about how a doctor’s office can find a great IT provider. Basically, what factors can a doctor look at when evaluating the various IT providers? What types of things should they be looking for in an IT provider? Is there a base set of “services” that pretty much every IT provider offers and what “other services” might set one provider apart? And for the “base services” how can you know who’s really great at providing the IT support and who’s only mediocre?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Also, I’m thinking that maybe I should create a list of Managed IT Service Providers that specialize in supporting healthcare IT (EMR in particular). Basically, I’m thinking a page similar to my EMR and EHR vendors page. Although, I’ve been considering a small redesign of that page as well. Possibly selling premium position on that page (and eventually the IT services page). Something cheap like $50/year for a premium posting. Just a thought. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea or not.

Managed IT Services vs Break and Fix Model

Posted on January 20, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There are a couple approaches to handling your IT support in a medical office. The first method is called the break and fix model. As can probably be inferred, this model is where you only call for IT support when something breaks. For example, your computer won’t turn on and so you call tech support. A lot of people use this model and it can work effectively if done right. The key to success in this model is making sure that whoever sets up your IT initially knows what they’re doing so that it won’t break very often. Otherwise, you’ll be having the IT person their all the time fixing problems. One challenge with this model is that you’re still going to have some sort of down time when something breaks. Basically, the time it takes for your IT support to get out and fix it.

This is one reason why many people prefer a managed IT service model. In this case, an IT company regularly comes out to your clinic to do some regular maintenance. It’s kind of like a tune up for your computers. If done well, this can mean that you’ll avoid downtime that may occur if your computers aren’t maintenanced regularly. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have downtime. Sometimes computers/servers/network devices fail even with the best maintenance. The nice part with a managed IT service model is that if and when something fails, the company is already familiar with your IT environment because they’ve been there doing regular maintenance.

I’m sure there are a number of other advantages and disadvantages to each. However, this should get you thinking about the various IT support options. Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments. And yes, you’re going to need some sort of IT support when you start doing an EMR. It’s inevitable.

Type of IT Support You Want for Your EMR

Posted on December 23, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

On my favorite EMR forum, EMR Update, Matt Chase from Medtuity suggested the following pattern for how IT is involved in the EMR implementations he’s been involved in. Here’s what he said (emphasis added):

The characteristic pattern on a new server install is the IT guy comes in, puts the infrastructure in place, comes back in a couple of times over the ensuing 2 weeks and then disappears into the ether for a few years. Once a network is setup properly, it needs surprising little tuning. For example, a facility running Medtuity ~7 years is just now replacing their Windows 200/SQL Server 2000 box (a busy place too. They’ve had their IT people out no more than once per year, I’ll bet, over the last 7 years. Another group with 7 facilities does not even have an IT person on their payroll despite a server at each facility. The important point is to set a server up correctly at the outset.

I’ve seen this pattern first hand with the small clinic implementations I’ve been apart of. Although, I’d say that it’s probably more like 1-2 calls per year and the Merry Christmas phone call in December too. The key really is to make sure the server is setup properly at the outset.

However, what Matt doesn’t highlight is the importance of having the right IT people available for those 1-2 calls per year. It happens so rarely that the clinic goes into a partial state of panic. Having an IT person that can assist you quickly and effectively in that moment of panic is very important.