Cloud Apps for the Medical Vertical
Stricter regulations over the management of patient records combined with a technology world that is moving more towards the public cloud and managed services places additional hurdles in front of healthcare businesses and their trusted IT advisors, but with these challenges come rewards for integrators and MSPs. Regulations and a changing IT landscape are creating significant opportunities for partners of all types.
CSG Healthnet Solutions of Lubbock, Tx. has been serving healthcare clients for the last eleven years, and according to the integrator’s owner, business is definitely growing. With a background in healthcare information systems that goes back 25 years, Wesley Robinson saw an opportunity in the late 1990s to serve dental and medical offices with IT integration and managed services.
"Our focus is taking an integrated perspective of an office and automating it so every device in the office communicates properly and functions properly with minimal duplication and minimizes the footprint of the office compared to most offices," said Robinson, who founded CSG after determining his work in healthcare information systems made serving dental and medical offices would be a good fit. "We work with vendors that provide equipment but do not provide the installation, so we’re called a certified network solutions provider."
CSG’s primary focus is on technology integration, but because of the specific vertical target market it has, that means more than rolling out traditional IT systems and networks. It also means developing solutions that will enable peripherals like digital radiography and X-ray machines to connect to the same network resources as computer workstations, IP phones and other network-enabled devices.
CSG’s focus is strictly on medical offices, with dental offices making up 70 percent of its clientele and medical offices making up the other 30 percent. With business growing, it seems like a good vertical to target, but Robinson said his integrators have to go through specific training for digital X-ray equipment, software specific to such specialized equipment, and keep up on regulatory compliance laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It means having some specialized knowledge that dental and medical clients are looking for in an integrator and managed service provider.
CSG does integration of networks (including VoIP), cabling, software, digital imaging and digital radiography. Additionally, each network has to be customized to fulfill the specific needs of the applications and systems the client plans to on it.
Once integration is done, CSG provides managed services to its clients, but the services are mostly limited to remote monitoring, maintenance and troubleshooting. In the dental market, all data is still maintained on-site, although there are some cloud-based applications starting to appear on the market.
"There are a few like Curve Dental, which is a cloud-based solution that is getting into the market," Robinson said. "The problem in dental markets right now is with the digital radiography and all of the imaging, you’re required to have a pretty high-speed Internet connection to upload and download those images."
Unfortunately, current solutions degrade the image for faster transmission speeds, Robinson explained. Until faster and cheaper Internet speeds are available, the cloud is still a bit of a dream for some of the core functions of dental offices.
CSG uses N-able Technologies’ managed service provider platform to provide remote monitoring and management services to its clients, which Robinson said reduces the number of on-site calls his technicians have to make. The N-able platform was also chosen because it allows CSG to be proactive in its maintenance rather than reactive, which is important when dealing with dental clients. If a technology failure takes one dental chair down, then that workstation isn’t producing, so CSG has to provide an uptime guarantee. N-able’s platform allows them to do that, he said.
"They need the system to be able to give them the speed that they need and the response that they need. And the accuracy," Robinson said.
In building the business, new clients tend to come through referrals or through the various vendors that CSG works with. As Robinson explained, the vendors don’t typically have their own integration teams, and that’s where channel partners like CSG come in.