Leveraging the Cloud to Streamline Security for Strategic Growth
As the technology director at Inspira Health Network, François Bodhuin and his staff have their work cut out for them, as they strive to support the organization’s strategic growth, stay on top of technology needs and keep patient data secure.
The New Jersey-based organization, in fact, is constantly looking to expand. “We are a medium-sized system, but we are very active in our expansion plans,” Bodhuin said, noting that the system now has more than 150 service locations in five counties. The health network is currently building a new hospital, adding a two- story patient tower to one of its existing hospitals, expanding its behavioral health program, renovating a satellite ER, recently opened a senior emergency department and purchased a regional medical transport company.
In addition, the Inspira technology department has developed an app to better serve all the patients that will flow into this continually growing health system. The app enables patients to request appointments, get directions to facilities, access a list of providers, view emergency department and urgent care wait times, pay bills and even participate in virtual visits.
So, it made perfect sense for Inspira to move its compliance management software to the cloud when FairWarning introduced a cloud-based managed shared services solution that works to ensure all data is secure by continually monitoring user activity and sending out alerts for any suspicious actions. After all, the health system had already moved a variety of systems to the cloud including its electronic health records, security information and event management (SIEM) and wound care solutions, and has experienced myriad benefits by doing so.
“The cloud saves costs; because you are getting a virtual server, the hardware itself costs less,” he said. In addition, when a managed services provider hosts a solution in the cloud, the healthcare organization does not incur on-boarding or ongoing training costs.
By hosting the compliance solution in the cloud under a managed services arrangement, Inspira will be positioned to:
Take advantage of a team of privacy and security experts. “The team concept to me is a key with managed services. We’re always being asked to work more efficiently. In this case, we will be able to really do that because we will have a team of experts that is performing the function,” Bodhuin said. “Because they’re experts, they know when a complaint is significant. They know when an alert is significant. They know when to ask for an investigation.” In addition, because these experts are well versed in the compliance solution, the learning curve that is typically associated with implementing a new solution is eliminated.
Reduce the need to search for IT staff. Hiring experienced, qualified IT staff is a challenge for all healthcare organizations. “In South Jersey, it is especially difficult to attract people to work in security and privacy. [With managed services], we don’t have to search for IT staff and we won’t have any onboarding costs. All that is built-in to our fees,” he said.
Maintain flexibility. With a managed solution in the cloud, it will be easy for Inspira to grow – as the organization does not need to add staff but can instead simply adjust the services agreement to meet evolving needs.
More readily deal with infrastructure challenges. With managed services, Inspira staff do not need to “worry about patching or managing the server,” he said. In addition, staff don’t need to be concerned with “upgrading the hardware, or the software . . . or worry about disaster recovery,” something that traditionally generates significant downtime, according to Bodhuin.
Leverage the experiences of many. Managed services providers work with a variety of organizations making it possible to “bring many best practices to the table,” which is difficult to do when hosting and maintaining systems internally, Bodhuin noted.
Save considerable time. “There's a lot of daily work that, all of a sudden, you don't have to do because it’s being done by the managed service. In privacy and security, we expect to regain about one to two hours a day for each analyst,” he said. “Now, they can focus their time on responding to issues that are reported to them. All that saved time can be allocated to another function.”
Doing managed services right
While Bodhuin expects to realize these benefits when moving the compliance software to the cloud, his past experience with managed services has provided a litany of lessons learned. More specifically, he knows that to successfully work with a managed services provider requires:
- Defining expectations explicitly. “You have to define what you trust them to do. You could let the managed service provider run the whole show if you wanted to, in certain functions,” or limit their scope to a defined set of functions, according to Bodhuin.
- Proactively managing the working relationship. “You really have to keep them on their toes. Make sure they deliver what they say they will deliver,” he advised. “So you really have to pay attention to your statement of work to ensure that you will get what you expect.”
- Treating the managed service provider as one of our own. “It’s really important that you make these people a part of your team. And if you do that, then you’ll get success. If you don’t do that, then there will be a lot instances where there are conflicts in your priorities,” Bodhuin said.
In the final analysis, with the expertise gained via a managed services arrangement, Bodhuin expects Inspira to save time, reduce costs while minimizing the organization’s overall risk profile. As such, Bodhuin can help the health system support its strategic growth goals. “The technology/security must be ‘a department of yes’, not a ‘department of no’. When you start saying no to people, you're going against the business itself and that can be a real problem,” he concluded.