IT buy-in and support is important when it comes to deploying healthcare policy management software. We thought it was important to address the question of how much IT involvement is really needed when deploying a healthcare policy management software. We have had several hospitals and large chains of hospitals hesitating whether the timing was right to roll out a policy management system because their current IT resources were tied up doing other longer term deployments. We have even lost contact with prospective customers that really needed a policy management solution but did not have clarity as to how much IT time was needed to get it off the ground. Some of those deployments include things like enterprise EMR roll-outs of EPIC or Cerner or perhaps the deployment of time and attendance software like Kronos.
Policy management software is usually not as expensive as EPIC or Kronos but because of the corporate visibility of policies and procedures this hesitation is understandable and we wanted to share with you in this article how much time is really needed by your hospitals time strapped IT staff. (Click here to read about how much policy management software should cost). You might not be your healthcare facilities IT lead, but hopefully by the time you finish reading this short article you will be armed with the knowledge to articulate in “IT speak” to your IT team how much of their time will be needed and exactly what they will be doing.
Compared to an enterprise rollout like an EPIC or Kronos the reality is there is very little strain put on the IT team of a facility when setting up policy management software. There are three main points which take up an IT specialists time and those are setting up browser configurations (if needed) to handle any unique plugins, creating a VPN tunnel for LDAP SSO (this is just techie speak for syncing your usernames and passwords with the policy management system so your employees don’t have to remember another password), and basic security considerations.
There are several tweaks that various policy management applications may need done to all browsers to ensure that certain parts of their application work smoothly. For example when looking at enabling certain employees to perform inline browser editing you are only required to set-up the computers for those who will be editing documents online, this feature does not need to be configured for the vast majority of your facilities users within the policy management system. With almost any example we can give, these days there are multiple time saving short cuts for an IT specialist to set-up these configurations easily and push it out to all the computers that need it. Eight years ago it was a different story with the IT specialist having to enable these settings one machine at a time. All policy management vendors will usually provide the proper files and installation instructions for the IT specialist to follow. Typically we find that the set-up of these browser specific components take between 1-4 hours (under a day) of a single IT specialists time. There are scenarios where setting up the computers may take longer than expected but those scenarios are the exception to the under a day rule.
Syncing Usernames And Passwords With Active Directory
The other big area that takes time out of an IT specialists time is syncing your existing usernames and passwords that you use everyday with the policy management software. This removes the task of having to set-up hundreds or thousands of user accounts. Every leading policy management vendor does this, so at this point we need to put on our techie hat and use some technical jargon when describing what needs to happen when configuring a VPN Tunnel for LDAP SSO (which stands for (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, Single Sign-On) . Setting up a VPN tunnel allows for a secure connection between a policy management software’s SSO server and your facilities LDAP server, allowing users to utilize the same log-in that they use for their networked computers, to log-in to the policy management software. The creation of this secure VPN tunnel comes in five stages.
- Policy management vendor usually sends two (2) one page forms for your IT team to complete.
- Policy management vendor receives the completed forms and creates the secure VPN tunnel.
- Policy management vendor sends your IT team the configuration for the secure tunnel.
- Your IT team configures the secure tunnel to the specifications provided
- Policy management vendor verifies the connection over the secure tunnel to your LDAP server and configures the policy management application to properly reflect your facilities LDAP configuration.
These steps can be completed in as little as a single business day enabling your facilities access to LDAP SSO. Understanding that not all situations are the same the typical time required for creating and configuring a VPN tunnel is about 8 hours of a single IT specialists working time. The person that will usually be doing this on your IT team will probably be someone with a title close to Network, or Database, Administrator.
Other Basic Security Considerations
There are a few final tasks that cannot be skipped by your IT team. One of these tasks is to add the policy management vendor’s “no-reply” email address (i.e. – firstname.lastname@example.org) to your email safe list. Adding this email to your email safe list will allow the policy management system to properly send emails. Though this task cannot be skipped its impact on your IT team should be at most one (1) working hour.
The final thing to mention to your team and specifically your IT team is the fact that policy management systems do not contain any PHI (patient health information). This is so vital to know and communicate. If IT teams are not communicated this simple, yet vital, fact they will be marching down a road to highly secure the policy management software in ways that are just not needed. When a system houses any sort of PHI it needs to follow certain protocols and the data needs to be handled and secured in specific ways. Once again this is not the case for policy management software. As there is no PHI there are only two other security measures that an IT team may want to take.
- The first would be to restrict access to certain locations by creating what is called a white list of IP addresses.
- The second would be to channel all access to the policy management system through one internal intranet web page by embedding what is called an encrypted security token.
These two tasks would only take 1-2 hours of time.
Perhaps Not As Much IT Time Required As You Might Think
There you have it. There is certainly some IT time required to deploy policy management software, but probably not as much as you might think. It is untrue if you are ever told that policy management software is deployed 100% by non-technical users on your end and the policy management vendor handles everything. (Click here to view a comprehensive guide to fully setting up policy management software). However the truth and main points to take away is that it will cumulatively take only one IT specialists time of around 2 days to do what is needed from a technical perspective. Also to reiterate there is no patient health information. We mention this point again because over the past year every healthcare facilities security team that we have encountered told us that all policy management vendors should openly and clearly communicate this fact. It saves them a ton of time if they know that ahead of time.
Hopefully you leave this article now knowing that it will take a little bit of your IT team’s time but not nearly as much as you might have thought. Therefore if you’re going through those long and grinding EPIC/CERNER/EMR deployments that are taking hundreds of people and thousands of hours, policy management software can usually be done in tandem and with minimal effort with 1-2 days of your IT specialists time.
Benefiting Your Organization
This article should give you a good sense as to how much input is needed from your IT specialist. If you would like to find out more, or would like to request a demo, please don’t hesitate to contact our team here at Policy Medical who are always here to help with any questions you may have.