Information Technology

In its purest form, Information Technology refers to the application of computers to store, study, transmit, receive and manipulate information or data. While IT finds most widespread use as a synonym for computer networks and the computers attached to them, the field encompasses a much wider range of equipment and services, such devices as printers and scanners, telephones and televisions, database design and implementation, application development and deployment, network planning and installation and much more.

While the first use of the phrase Information Technology did not occur until 1958 in the Harvard Business Review, humans have been storing, manipulating and retrieving data for far longer. The Antikythera mechanism in the first century BC and the earliest mechanical calculators of the seventeenth century AD demonstrate modern IT attributes just as surely as Colossus, the Ferranti Mark 1 and the 305 RAMAC.

Though modern networks and computing devices may appear to have little in common with their forebears, their purpose in a modern business of any size remains the same: to store data in a reliable and secure manner, to allow access to that data on demand and to improve quality and profitability of operations through the proper application of current technology – and that technology continues to develop at an ever-increasing pace.

Large enterprises make use their available resources to employ entire teams dedicated to IT, with specialties from database administration to network security to desktop support and everything and anything in between. When expertise is required that falls outside the purview of the in-house IT department, such organizations engage the services of outside experts, trusted parters who are able to provide required solutions and perform knowledge transfer to inside teams.

For smaller operations, the challenge is much greater. A small business often cannot justify the addition of a full-time or even part-time professional dedicated to the IT needs of the business: even if the justification is there, financial concerns often simply do not allow such expenditures. Even if sound reasoning and finances allow for an IT employee, which kind? A professional database administrator, or an experienced desktop support technician? A dedicated network security professional, or an application design specialist?

Small business is therefore best served by finding a trustworthy, reliable outside team that can fulfill all Information Technology needs that might arise on an as-needed basis. A qualified IT organization provides consultation, design, deployment and support services to partners on an as-needed, on-demand basis: we work with vendors, perform research and acquisition, and ensure that all aspects of the business’ technology infrastructure continue to run smoothly and efficiently. Such an organization becomes the IT team for its partners, without any of the overhead associated with a traditional, in-house IT department.

The Vital Technologies team looks forward to fulfilling the IT needs of your organization. Call today to get started.

Business Engineering

The classic definition of Business Engineering refers to the development, planning and implementation of business solutions: it ranges from the creation of the initial business model to the drafting of business processes, from the review of the processes to formation of an organizational structure, from the identification of business needs to the planning and implementation of information systems and the associated information technology required to meet those needs.

As a discipline, BE involves the combination of knowledge across multiple diverse fields: business administration, industrial engineering, management theory and information technology. The complete view encompassed by Business Engineering creates a comprehensive approach to the successful formation and continued operations and growth of an organization of any size, from a multinational enterprise with dozens of facilities and thousands of employees to a sole proprietorship with a single employee.

The use of BE techniques and principles proves invaluable in multiple facets of business management. Proper analysis, planning and implementation ensures compliance with government, international and industry standards such as HIPAA, ISO and PCI-DSS. Employee acquisition and retention, customer service and satisfaction, process design and improvement, supply chain optimization and logistics coordination illustrate a few of the diverse areas in which BE is able to refine the operations of an organization of any size.

One specific example of BE in the modern business concerns the ability to successfully continue when faced with loss of, damage to or failure of critical components. Such components can include personnel, facilities or technological assets. The preparation of contingencies for such losses requires investment in Business Continuity Planning, an umbrella term that includes both DRP and business resumption planning. True BCP involves not only the preparation of measures to protect business operations and recover technologies in the event of the losses previously described, but also the successful testing and documentation of those measures.

The Vital Technologies approach to BE embodies our core value and philosophy: the creation of solutions for small business through an open and honest partnership to improve the ability of our partners to focus on core competencies, allowing for stability, expansion and ongoing success.

Contact us to learn how our team can collaborate with your team.

Health Information Technology

Historically, the successful practice of medicine has relied on the latest technological advancements to improve patient care. The construction of the first magnifying glass in 1250 began a long tradition whose modern advancements are crucial in many surgical procedures. This tradition continued with the discovery of the X-ray in 1895 (reported by the New York Times as an “alleged discovery of how to photograph the invisible”), the development of the original electrocardiogram in 1903, the first recorded human electroencephalogram in 1924, the release of the first commercial ultrasound machine in 1965 and the announcement of a patented technique to create images using nuclear magnetic resonance (the MRI) in 1978.

These discoveries all shared one major commonality: each of them provided a new way for medical practitioners to gain more information about their patients, to offer better healthcare. In a very real way, starting with the magnifying glass in 1250, the successful practice of modern medicine has relied in no small part on the latest technology to gather more information about patients.

With the advent of voice communications, computer networks and the Internet, it became possible for medical providers to share information with each other: more advancements in information technology that led to better patient care. At first this was isolated to phone calls, and later to faxes. One provider could call another to discuss a case, or perhaps to fax over the results of an unusual X-ray or ultrasound. Later, this evolved to email exchanges and real-time chat. Now, thanks to the existence of high-speed Internet connections, it’s possible for providers to share entire patient medical histories and real-time video: a surgeon in New York City can collaborate with a colleague in Hong Kong during a procedure, with virtually no delay.

This is medicine at an entirely new level: healers, the world over, able to communicate, to share, to provide the absolute pinnacle in patient care. And this is only the beginning.

But these advancements come with associated risks. As it becomes easier and faster to share information, the privacy of individuals becomes of greater concern. A delicate medical condition becoming a matter for public consumption can result in anything from a few moments of embarrassment to a completely ruined career or life.

It’s not hard for it to happen. An unencrypted email attachment sent to the wrong party; an improperly secured web portal; a fax sent to the wrong number; a misguided picture shared on social media; deliberate misuse of improperly secured systems by outside parties, or abuse of those systems by authorized personnel; or a lost or stolen laptop, phone or thumb drive can result in the exposure of one, or one hundred, or one million patient records.

Preventing these situations led in part to the introduction of HIPAA in 1996, the associated HITECH Act of 2009 and the Final Omnibus Rule in 2013. While compliance with these has associated overhead, it also leads to improved patient care through the introduction of information and care standards, and to greater protection of patient privacy by establishing firm policies and procedures regarding proper handling of PHI. The existence of these mandatory initiatives means that a medical practice wishing to use the latest technology absolutely must invest in the proper planning, deployment, maintenance and auditing of its HIT systems.

HIT today encompasses a broad range of disciplines and services: planning and successfully implementing EHR systems; securing data and voice networks of covered entities and their business associates; providing security services, including data encryption, device management, antivirus and antimalware solutions; securely introducing BYOD and remote office solutions to the modern medical or dental practice; and more.

Not only are all these systems covered under HIPAA, HITECH and the associated Final Omnibus Rule, but compliance with them is not optional. With the advent of Phase Two of the HIPAA Audit Program in 2016, it has become clear that the OCR division of HHS is taking compliance very seriously: from the largest provider network to the smallest independent practice, each medical practitioner, across all disciplines, must properly follow established regulatory guidelines or risk mounting civil and criminal penalties.

Large provider networks employ teams of IT professionals to ensure compliance: but where do smaller practices turn? In these circumstances, it’s vital to work closely with a business associate who has experience with compliance. Using established guidelines and procedures, a trusted business associate can guide a small healthcare provider down a path to complete compliance with all aspects of HIPAA, HITECH and the Final Omnibus Rule. This serves three purposes.  First, it helps avoid costly fines related to accidental or deliberate violation of the law. Second and just as important, it provides ROI in the form of increased financial incentives from the federal government. Finally, and most importantly, it allows those who practice medicine of any type to ensure the privacy and the absolute best in care to those who seek their help.

To learn more about successful compliance initiatives, contact a member of our team to schedule an initial consultation.