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Scared of HIPAA? Don’t be. It represents huge opportunities for the IT world.
That was the message from April Sage, Director of Healthcare IT for Online Tech, when she joined Karl Palachuk on his ‘Odd Tuesdays‘ podcast yesterday. (Find the replay here.)
Palachuk invited Sage to join his bi-weekly show because its primary audience – managed service providers – has been engaged in a debate about whether HIPAA regulations and the HITECH Act make working in the healthcare space “so big and so complicated and so scary” that it’s best to just run away.
Sage counters that the rapidly growing health IT industry creates “a wonderful opportunity” and that while understanding HIPAA regulations “does require a bit of homework to understand the compliance rules, they’re not so different than the normal security protocols that one would find to protect any sensitive data.”
Here is more of the sage advice delivered by April (pun credit: Palachuk):
“For smaller businesses, the healthcare space is both a great opportunity and a significant burden. The smaller businesses really have the kind of agility to react to the disruptive innovation that the healthcare industry is screaming for in order to figure out how on Earth we are going to lower the cost of healthcare, but also have better outcomes for our patients. On the other side, the cost of compliance and those external audits and making sure all of those safeguards are in place – not just at any point in time, but on an ongoing basis – is really significant. We find that we end up in very close partnerships with our IT service providers so that we make sure we clearly understand who is addressing which of the safeguards and going through the complete list to make sure that we have all of our bases covered. We find that that’s a huge relief for our clients. We end up with some very enterprising physicians who identify a need in the healthcare system and suddenly become founders of mobile healthcare apps. They understand their business incredibly well, but they don’t understand how to keep the IT infrastructure safe. This is a place where an IT consultant can be a huge benefit to those people, by connecting them in a network of partners that can make sure the safeguards are in place.”
Listen to the full podcast to hear Sage also discuss the Department of Health and Human Services clarifying responsibility and accountability issues, the importance of understanding the Business Associates Agreement, and the kinds of clients that Online Tech is able to assist with its range of hosting services – from colocation to managed dedicated servers to encrypted cloud, all with the main focus on handling the security and compliance safeguards that are required for sensitive data.