Thinking of an OS Upgrade? Healthcare IT Leaders Should Consider These Factors First

From keeping cyberthreats at bay to staying within budget, organizations must be able to answer questions about their needs and abilities.

The end of support for Windows 7 is fast approaching.

Extended support is set to end in January 2020, and while Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Jared Spataro announced in a blog post that the company also will offer extended, per-device security updates for a fee through January 2023, for many healthcare organizations, if the process hasn’t already started, the time to transition to a new OS is now.

Such an effort is one providers must not take lightly; after all, everyone from front-office staff to clinicians will need to use the OS for years to come.

To that end, here are three factors healthcare IT leaders must consider when choosing the right system for their organization.

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3 Considerations for a Healthcare OS Upgrade

1. Security: Cybersecurity continues to dominate conversations for all health IT executives and other stakeholders. Case in point: the Department of Health and Human Services recently published a voluntary best-practices guide for the industry, with HHS Acting CISO Janet Vogel calling cybersecurity “everyone’s responsibility” in a statement. Choosing the right OS for your organization goes a long way toward helping to create a secure environment for all IT users, especially as the desire for new capabilities, including multifactor authentication, grows.

2. Ease of use: Ease of workflow can make or break a healthcare organization. To make an appropriate decision, first evaluate the needs of all of your end users. What are the application preferences of your staff? Do many of your users rely on mobile access? What are your current communication challenges? Answering these kinds of questions up front can help to save a lot of time and money on the back end.

3. Payment structure: While security and ease of use are major aspects when it comes to OS selection and deployment, cost is also a key consideration. Healthcare is an industry with razor-thin margins. A study published last summer by Navigant, for instance, found that from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2017, average hospital operating margins fell by roughly 39 percent; for 65 percent of health systems analyzed, total income declined by $6.8 billion. With that in mind, provider organizations must also work within their budgets to determine a feasible payment structure, whether that means annual, semiannual or quarterly payments. Know your flexibility threshold before you start your evaluations.

Whether you’re in the market for a new OS now, or will be a few years down the road, keeping these considerations top of mind is a must to ensure you meet the needs of your organization.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.

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