2. Using Managed Services to Combat Staff Shortages
As rural, independent and community hospitals assess their IT infrastructure, execute cost-saving measures, and consider new solutions and strategies, it’s important to keep cybersecurity top of mind. A cyberattack not only threatens an independent hospital’s bottom line and puts patient data at risk but it also threatens the hospital’s brand reputation and patients’ trust.
While cybersecurity is critically important for independent hospitals, it can be difficult for their health IT teams to invest heavily in the staff, tools and strategies needed to protect the organization. That’s where managed services come in. With a managed services partner like CDW, an independent hospital can monitor its network traffic 24/7 without the hospital having to employ staff with the skills to perform the task.
Any investment in cybersecurity also can help to reduce the cost of cybersecurity insurance, which is a growing necessity in the industry due to an increase in attacks targeting healthcare.
Another benefit of managed services and a managed network monitoring system is that they free up an independent hospital’s IT staff to focus on other strategic tasks. It can be hard for rural, independent and community hospitals to find CISOs or skilled security engineers. By empowering a partner to manage security through a virtual CISO or other managed cybersecurity service, an independent hospital can take advantage of a great skill set that they might not have been able to find locally amid a shortage in IT and security experts.
It’s possible for independent hospitals to recruit from outside of their areas, but they are competing with large hospital systems who can likely offer in-house security experts larger salaries.
READ MORE: Find the right cloud solution for your independent, rural or community hospital.
3. Independent Hospitals Should Take Advantage of Federal Funding
Independent hospitals can leverage federal dollars to help pay for cybersecurity and IT infrastructure investments. During the pandemic, several one-time grants were made available to help offset costs associated with treating patients with COVID-19. Many of those dollars were set aside for IT investments, particularly telemedicine. While those grants are no longer available, there are still annual grants available to rural, independent and community hospitals.
Becoming knowledgeable about those programs can help diversify the hospital’s revenue stream on an ongoing basis. These grants include the Health Care Connect Fund from the Universal Service Administrative Co., the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Many smaller hospitals that need federal funding and that are the intended recipients of these dollars don’t have grant writers on staff like larger hospital systems might. It can be helpful for independent hospitals to hire consultants to navigate the grant application process. While CDW doesn’t do grant writing or have any contractual relationships with grant writers, our strategists can point independent hospitals toward grant consultants who have been helpful to other customers.
Rural, independent and community hospitals don’t have to navigate today’s complex healthcare landscape alone. A strategic IT partner such as CDW can help them to achieve cost containment while protecting patient data so that they can focus on patient care.
This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series.