The ISM, Inc. Blog

Enabling the Collaborative Healthcare Workforce


The modern workforce, in general, is highly collaborative, nimble, and connected. For the healthcare industry in which laws such as the HITECH Act and HIPPA privacy and security rules are paramount, the path to technological advancement is often met with skepticism. Nevertheless, 40% of U.S. healthcare providers' IT budgets are increasing, according to IDC. Leading healthcare organizations are realizing lower costs and increased productivity in the cloud, all while meeting stringent compliance requirements with Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Office 365 offers a full set of cloud-based tools for Web, mobile, tablet and desktop. It keeps the workforce connected and productive with a host of social apps like Yammer, SharePoint, Delve Artificial Intelligence, Skype, and Exchange for uninterrupted email.

According to Gartner, 80% of Fortune 500 and 65% of Fortune 1000 clients have or will migrate to Office 365. That being said, pockets of doubt remain regarding the perceived vulnerabilities of cloud-based applications. As a leader in enterprise collaboration software, more than 100 million people use Office 365 commercially every month. Check out these examples of healthcare providers that have already migrated to Office 365. In this post, we discuss five common misconceptions regarding cloud applications and why a move to Office 365 is well worth considering.

Misconception #1: Moving workforce collaboration tools to the cloud is not secure enough for the healthcare industry. We blame a lack of knowledge for this, as well as some early-adoption mishaps. Some healthcare organizations are still holding on to the false sense of security that on premise systems provide when in fact many of them could be hacked without their knowledge. "It is becoming increasingly clear that your on-premises systems are not inherently more secure than they would be in the cloud," says Mark Anderson, founder of the INVNT/IP Global Consortium, a group of governments and security experts helping to solve the increasing cyber threat. Microsoft's advanced security infrastructure "Assumes Breach" which means it is always working to prevent attacks against its cloud services. To learn more about Microsoft's services related to HIPAA and HITECH visit the Office 365 Trust Center, or read the white paper Addressing HIPAA Security and Privacy Requirements in the Microsoft Cloud.

Misconception #2: You cannot partially migrate to the cloud. The fact is that almost all organizations start their cloud journeys with partial migrations. Granted not all applications are suitable, however, migrating applications in cycles is a prudent option. The hybrid option offers a consistent platform that spans data centers and cloud to simplify IT and deliver apps and information to dispersed workers across devices. A hybrid option also allows you to control the computing power and capabilities that your business demands at scale and without wasting onsite technology investments. Most implementations start with a hybrid approach, moving single applications such as Exchange and OneDrive to the cloud while developing the long-term plan.

Misconception #3: Cloud costs rise over time. Many companies think that if they buy hardware and a perpetual license for software, it will cost less long-term, as there is no need for license renewal and they can take advantage of tax breaks like depreciation. The fact is that maintaining and upgrading applications on premise costs more in the long run. This argument has been thoroughly analyzed in this article.

Misconception #4: Mobile Device Management (MDM/EMM) can be expensive and risky from a security standpoint. The proliferation of BYOD raises concerns in a cloud environment, as is the security of application data. If an employee uses his/her device to exchange patient healthcare information, let's say via email or document sharing, there must be stringent security measures for wiping that data clean from the device should an employee move on. This process is even more critical when a company's data is hosted in a public cloud.

The fact is that Microsoft Office 365 offers built-in apps to manage the BYOD conundrum. Administrators can perform all of the significant functions without additional licensing via the security and compliance center, or they can use Microsoft Intune which enables flexible device and application management so employees can work with the devices and apps they prefer while protecting company information. Both options allow administrators to manage these tasks remotely for employees and for customers.

Misconception #5: Frequent updates of software can break mission-critical applications. With the advancement of microservice architecture, a method of developing software applications as a suite of independently deployable services, DevOps, and Microsoft's 99% uptime ensures the least impact to your business when upgrades occur. Also, there's no need to rewrite APIs after an update. Microsoft is collaborating with leading software vendors to ensure a smooth transition to Office 365. It is also minimizing compatibility issues by providing best practices for update management and development.

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based collaboration, communication, and social intelligence powerhouse for the healthcare workforce. Microsoft partnered with Forrester to understand the total economic impact of implementing Office 365 in one health care organization, Advocate Healthcare. The result was an estimated saving of $53.8 million due to increased knowledge worker productivity. Sutter Health also provided a detailed video example.

As a certified Microsoft Gold Partner, ISM, Inc. can help you get up and running on Office 365 with little to no business interruption. As a trusted IT partner to hundreds of healthcare organizations, we’re always ready to help you navigate the journey including strategy, implementation, and maintenance.

Recent Posts