COVID-19 has been a punishing stress test for the entire U.S. healthcare system. Rising expenses, shrinking reimbursements and lost revenues have forced hospitals and other providers to rein in costs by reducing staff and postponing projects. Even with deep cuts, the American Hospital Association estimates hospitals will lose more than $323 billion this year.
Healthcare IT professionals have felt the strain as well. Although some projects have been delayed or canceled, IT teams remain under pressure to support critical systems and introduce important new technologies with limited manpower. In addition to regular infrastructure support, short-staffed IT teams are tasked with developing work-from-home capabilities, expanding telehealth services and providing enhanced data analytics to support better research and decision-making.
Co-managed IT services can help healthcare organizations address their technical needs while optimizing costs. Co-management allows healthcare organizations to supplement their in-house staff with access to outside expertise for a predictable monthly fee.
Savings and More
Cost optimization is one of the main benefits of all outsourcing models. According to a Harvard Business Review report, businesses can expect to cut their IT costs by up to 30 percent when working with an IT provider. That is an attractive savings for healthcare organizations looking for ways to save money without impacting patient care.
What separates co-management from other outsourcing models is that the organization’s internal IT staff has a great deal of control over the arrangement by providing direction to external staff. That’s an important distinction in healthcare, which requires IT professionals with different skill sets than most businesses require.
For example, healthcare IT teams must have functional knowledge of medical terminology, electronic health records systems and the requirements of federal and state data privacy regulations. One of the key reasons hospitals turn to outside providers is the global shortage of IT professionals with relevant healthcare experience. Assigning day-to-day IT management tasks to highly skilled personnel is not the best use of valuable resources.
In a co-managed arrangement, the internal IT team can rely on external staff for critical infrastructure and application support needs. That frees up the internal team to work on telehealth, cloud deployments, collaboration solutions, cybersecurity measures and other high-value projects.
However, co-managed IT staffers aren’t just hired hands — they can offer a great deal of expertise and insight. While internal IT staffers have a deep understanding of the environment, co-managed teams often have more proficiency with technologies they’ve employed for other customers. Outside experts may also be more up-to-date on industry best practices for configuring, deploying and managing these technologies.
That’s one reason healthcare executives are planning to increase their use of external IT providers in 2021. A recent Black Book survey found that most plan to seek outside help with their overall digital strategies. Specifically, executives are looking for assistance with improving telehealth, patient privacy, remote patient monitoring, financial reporting and customer experience technologies.
Co-management works best as a partnership between internal and external teams working closely together. At RMM, our co-managed IT practice is set up to ensure that everyone is working toward common goals. We begin by meeting with your IT leadership and team members to discuss your technology strategy, current environment, technology trends and budgets. Once we’re in alignment, we create a plan with cost savings, efficiencies, recommendations and action items to ensure we meet your objectives.
The ongoing pandemic has created a deep financial and operational strain on most healthcare organizations. Working with a co-managed IT services provider such as RMM is a great way to maintain your critical IT infrastructure while keeping important projects moving forward.