When you think about getting IT support for your practice, there are a lot of options to choose from and companies providing IT support. But which one is the best for you? I’m going to lay out the options you have and the pros and cons of each so you are getting the IT support you need. I like to look at it this way because there are many different options for your practice to it is important you understand exactly what you need.
Getting The IT Support You Need
Option #1: Don’t do anything UNTIL something breaks or stops working.
This is really foolish, but we see it every day: practices that don’t pay attention to the care and maintenance of their computer network until it stops working. Then they are forced to call in an expert to repair or replace whatever caused the problem.
This reactive model of network support is no different than ignoring the “change oil” light in your car until smoke starts pouring out from under the hood. Taking a reactive approach to IT support is a surefire path to getting hit with ransomware and losing data, as well as having ongoing IT issues that slow you and your staff down.
Even if your computer network appears to be working fine, there are a number of daily, weekly and monthly maintenance tasks that must be performed to make sure you don’t fall victim to a cyber-attack and lose your data. A short list of these tasks includes:
- Security monitoring
- Verification of backups
- Security patches and updates
- Disaster recovery planning
- Server and desktop optimization
- Employee policies and monitoring
- Intrusion detection
- Spam filtering
If you run specialized practice management, patient relationship management or production software, or if you have multiple locations, a wireless network, highly sensitive data (such as financial or medical organizations, any government agencies or any company that has regulatory compliance considerations) or other specialized needs, the list is even longer.
If you learn only one lesson from this blog, I hope it will be to proactively monitor, maintain and secure your network instead of choosing to react to network and IT problems as they arise. Aside from your staff members, your network and the data on it are undoubtedly some of the most valuable assets your practice possesses – patient data, billing, payroll, CV’s, e-mails and more.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; this goes double for your computer network. Unfortunately, some practice owners are either too cheap or don’t have a full understanding of IT and end up paying for it in other ways.
Option #2: Outsource to a friend/brother/cousin or other “cheap” alternative who is “good with tech.”
Trying to save a buck by hiring someone who will work for beer money is a false savings. They could end up doing more damage than good and never really resolve the problem – and they most certainly won’t be able to recover you from a ransomware attack or disaster situation. It is especially important to have someone who focuses on security and understands HIPAA.
Along this same line is designating the most technically knowledgeable person on staff to be your makeshift IT manager and bring in outside help only when you run into a network crisis they can’t solve.
The problem is, you are pulling these people away from the main job you hired them to do, and unless they have time to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in IT support, security and management, they don’t have the skills or time required to do a great job. This inevitably results in a network that is poorly maintained and unstable, which may cause excessive downtime, overspending on IT support and expensive recovery costs.
Another variation of this is to get your neighbor’s kid or a friend to provide IT support on a part-time basis.
As with all things in life and practice, it is far less expensive to prevent problems than to clean them up. If your part-time technician is not performing regular maintenance and monitoring of your network, you are susceptible to more problems. At Tier3MD, we can help you with Getting The IT Support You Need.