While all small businesses require solid IT support and smooth-running systems to achieve success, certain industries have bigger needs that require a more integrative relationship with their technology partner. Those in the financial, healthcare, legal, and other industries have seen their computer, network, and data requirements significantly enhanced over the last few years.
Increased regulation and compliance requirements, along with a stronger recent focus on cybersecurity in light of countless data breaches and Internet vulnerabilities, have become major issues that all small to medium-sized businesses must address. For firms in the financial realm, the SEC emphasized its concern with technology matters in an April 2014 Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations Cybersecurity Initiative, which examined more than 50 registered broker-dealers and investment advisers on key areas of cybersecurity concern.
Similarly, anyone working in the healthcare industry is surely familiar with new HIPAA regulations, which require that all businesses that come in contact with protected health information, including second and third parties that contract with the medical field, meet certain requirements for the protection of said data. Health & Human Services Office of Civil Rights has handed down millions of dollars in fines to large and small companies responsible for recent data breaches. Just last week, a Long Island, NY, radiology practice informed 97,000 patients that one rogue employee had compromised their personal information.
What can businesses in heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare do to meet the stringent compliance requirements required of them? We recommend five courses of action:
1) Make sure you have properly functioning versions of the software required to run your business and fulfill your industry recommendations. Whether it’s expensive customer relationship management software, accounting applications, or electronic medical records management, chances are your business can’t function without it for more than a couple of hours. CMIT specializes in proactive solutions that minimize downtime and improve productivity.
2) Implement policies and procedures that elevate technology decisions out of the realm of human error. Still relying on manual data backups—or allowing employees to keep important information on laptops or cell phones? All it takes is one forgotten click of the mouse or one lost device to put your critical business data at risk. A recent Patient & Privacy Data Security Study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that 75% of healthcare organizations view employee negligence as their greatest threat of a breach—and that 49% reported a lost or stolen computing device as the primary cause of a breach.
3) Understand the difference between public cloud and private cloud. While we’re all using the cloud in some capacity these days—social media, email, and document-sharing services all rely on it—businesses operating in regulatory environments must recognize that not all cloud solutions (especially the free/cheap ones) provide the required level of encryption and protection.
4) Verify that your vendors, service providers, and third-party collaborators meet the same technology standards that you do. In the healthcare world, any Covered Entity (CE) that comes in direct contact with protected health information (PHI) is responsible for ensuring the Business Associates (BAs) they work with operate on the same level of encryption and protection that they do. If you’re already spending precious time handling the daily ins and outs of your own technology, do you really have more time available to worry about the state of your vendors’ and service providers’ level of compliance, too?
This brings us to the last (and most critical point):
5) Don’t place your trust in an IT company unless it possesses both broad-based industry knowledge and a laser-focused ability to solve your particular technology issues. At CMIT Solutions, our nationwide network of over 135 territories and 500 technicians pools its resources so that we can answer any question and solve any problem, no matter what industry you’re in.
Concerned about compliance and cybersecurity, especially if you work in a highly regulated industry? Not sure whether your existing IT infrastructure is up to snuff? Contact CMIT Solutions today so we can get your technology squared away, allowing you to focus on growing your business and serving your clients.