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Who Makes Your IT Purchases?

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This month, we’ve been emphasizing the significance of updating your existing technology. Although we’ve been using medical offices as an example, this information is relevant to all small businesses. In this week’s blog, we’ll delve into the challenges of resisting change.

Let’s assume that everything we’ve discussed about upgrading your technology has struck a chord with you, and you’re in complete agreement — what’s next? Well, decisions need to be made. What type of hardware and software will you employ? When is the ideal time for these changes, and what’s your budget? Will you hire new personnel or opt for a vendor? But perhaps the most critical question is, who will have the final say?

While it may appear unconventional, the reality is that many offices lack a designated decision-maker for these types of choices. The current person in charge may be too busy, distracted, or not the best fit for the task.

Who is your Decision Maker?

A significant challenge in many medical practices is their departure from the conventional business model. In most typical companies, you find an owner, president, or manager, but the same hierarchy doesn’t always apply to medical practices.

In the medical field, as with law firms, a partnership model is often the norm, involving multiple doctors who co-own the practice and collectively handle major decisions. While office managers are commonly responsible for day-to-day operations, they may lack the authority to make substantial purchasing or contractual decisions. Even in cases where a single individual holds the top position, making decisions is seldom straightforward.

A Question of Qualification

It’s undeniable that doctors are highly qualified in their field. Few professions demand as much education and experience before embarking on their career journey. Nevertheless, their expertise doesn’t naturally extend to comprehending the technology used in their offices. Why is it that individuals with the skills to perform complex medical procedures can appear bewildered when confronted with terms like server clients, cloud systems automation, and WANs? The answer likely lies in the fact that these topics were not part of their medical school curriculum.

In defense of these physicians, it’s essential to acknowledge that IT encompasses more than just computer literacy. Budgeting, for instance, is a crucial aspect of any IT decision-making process. Even with ample financial resources, haphazardly purchasing every IT component available doesn’t guarantee the establishment of an effective IT system. Before investing a single dollar, a thorough understanding of the office’s specific needs, including future requirements, is paramount.

Furthermore, healthcare systems are among the most challenging to set up and manage due to stringent government regulations governing patient privacy, such as HIPAA. While there are numerous excellent software programs available to enhance office efficiency, HIPAA compliance should be a top priority before implementing any IT solution. Unfortunately, many software programs and operating systems do not readily provide information about their HIPAA compliance status. Therefore, having individuals who can obtain this critical information is essential to making informed decisions.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The pace of technological advancement is no secret, and failing to keep up can result in rapidly falling behind. Innovations in storage, operating systems, and security emerge almost daily. Furthermore, the need for system upgrades can also arise due to evolving business requirements.

In a medical environment, this process becomes even more challenging, primarily due to the stringent requirements of HIPAA compliance. This can put practices in a dilemma, leading them to risk non-compliance or avoid upgrades altogether, sacrificing efficiency. A key contributing factor to this situation is the lack of guidance, where individuals with specialized expertise may be uncertain about the necessary upgrade steps.

The common but problematic solution in such cases often involves a piecemeal replacement approach. Replacing a computer here and a printer there may seem practical, but it ultimately results in higher costs compared to regularly upgrading all outdated equipment simultaneously. Additionally, it complicates future file and system migrations, as the diverse equipment operates on various operating systems, lacking uniformity.

If you find yourself in this predicament, it can lead to security vulnerabilities, decreased employee morale, and downtime that adversely affects efficiency. When the initial problem arose due to the absence of a dedicated decision-maker, resolving these issues became even more challenging.

A Streamlined Solution

To streamline your office’s operations, it’s essential to establish a clear decision-maker responsible for all IT matters. While input from various departments is valuable, having a qualified individual or team overseeing these decisions is crucial.

Given the hectic nature of medical facilities, many opt for external IT service providers like us. Based on our experience, when a designated point of contact engages with us to address the office’s needs and current status, we can swiftly devise an effective solution. This approach ensures that everyone’s requirements are met without the usual administrative complexities, all while staying within budget.

If you find yourself in the position of making these decisions, feel free to reach out to us to explore how we can assist you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact a few IT adjustments can make in your office. Rest assured, you’ll receive all the credit for the positive changes we implement!