Microsoft Teams HIPAA-Compliant IT Solutions Are Worth a Closer Look

While science, medicine, and healthcare are commonly associated with cutting-edge technologies, not all tech is created equal when it comes to compliance. The technology solutions clinicians and hospitals use in practice are quite different from the CRM products other businesses use to manage clients, record outreach, and organize records. So different in fact, that healthcare IT accounts for its own $186 billion industry, with a rapid growth rate projected for the next several years.

Healthcare IT includes SaaS (software-as-a-service) products, DaaS (data-as-a-service) platforms, and connected IoT (internet-of-things) tech. In 2015, Goldman Sachs projected the adoption of IoT in healthcare could reduce inefficiencies in chronic illness patient monitoring by upwards of $200 billion. Just in the past few years,  connected devices such as smart inhalers, Bluetooth-connected implanted defibrillators, and smartwatches that measure heart rate and body temperature have quickly become more mainstream.

As the industry responds to increased demand for telehealth offerings, the healthcare IT field is booming with new products and platforms for healthcare professionals. Of course, with new offerings and device integrations come new challenges, new bugs, and new process debt. The good news is that Microsoft Teams for Healthcare and Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare are among the leading solutions helping to ease this tech transition in the healthcare IT field. 

Microsoft Offers “Epic” Advantages for Healthcare Providers

This year, Microsoft announced integration with the largest electronic health record (EHR) platform, Epic. Epic’s integration with Microsoft Teams will allow clinicians and patients to initiate HIPAA-compliant virtual visits using Microsoft Teams calls, directly from patients’ records in the EHR. Without this integration, most telehealth platforms require practitioners to download a separate EHR application for use during telehealth visits. Due to HIPAA policy compliance, the workflow for moving between the applications is time-consuming, and afterward, telehealth notes may still need to be transferred into the primary EHR platform, resulting in record duplicates and wasting the user’s valuable time.

The telehealth function in Microsoft Teams also allows for patients to call into the secure and encrypted telehealth appointment via telephone, therefore expanding access to millions of patients without a reliable broadband internet connection. 

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare protects the transmission of photos taken or shared in a patient file with end-to-end encryption and a “Smart Camera” feature. Using Smart Camera, photos taken in patient care are not stored on the clinician’s local device image gallery. For example, a nurse at an urgent care clinic using Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare can capture a photograph of a patient’s wound, and send it securely through Microsoft Teams to the patient’s primary care provider. 

Also announced this year, Microsoft partnered with AI firm Nuance to provide an intelligent transcription tool in Microsoft Teams for Healthcare. An ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) solution, Nuance Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX),  uses AI to “document the virtual visit in context” combining transcription of the patient-physician conversation in a telehealth call with patient data and contextual information from the EHR, and then autopopulates clinical documentation for physicians. Microsoft believes wider adoption of ACI technologies will “improve healthcare experiences by reducing administrative workloads that lead to physician burnout.”

Teams Templates are another way the Microsoft Teams platform makes it easier for care providers to stay HIPAA compliant. Teams Templates allow you to quickly and easily create teams by providing a predefined template of settings, channels, and pre-installed apps. This enables administrators to deploy consistent teams throughout the organization, providing intuitive structure for users to become oriented with how to effectively use Teams. 

Likewise, Teams policy packages enable administrators to custom configure permissions groups for different types of users within an organization. In a healthcare setting, this feature makes it easy for clinical personnel such as doctors, charge nurses, registered nurses, and social workers to have full access to chat, calling, shift management, and meetings, while information workers such as IT and finance need only full access to chat, calling, and meetings. 

HIPAA Compliance Meets the WME Difference

Healthcare compliance can be challenging. HIPAA requirements do not firmly dictate which technologies to use to meet compliance, which is a good reason why users should have confidence in reputable, familiar technology providers, like Microsoft. The HIPAA Compliance standards can be achieved by using the latest Microsoft stack compliance features for Office 365 and Azure, and by having experienced IT consultants on your side. Windows Management Experts is well qualified to help decipher the current recommended practices around content, data, and security to improve your organization’s security standing. 

In a practice like healthcare, it is critical to be able to provide uninterrupted care and services to the patients that rely on you. This is why at the start of the pandemic lockdown, Windows Management Experts completed a massive deployment at the New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center, transforming 95% of their patient care to telemedicine in a matter of days

“Rolling out a telehealth platform is something that normally should take months, but needed to be done in just a matter of days,” explained Joshua Klein, director of strategic planning at NYPCC. 

Windows Management Experts worked tirelessly behind the scenes of this rollout. We provided technical expertise in deployment, trained providers at the NYPCC on the new platform, and assisted with resources to get patients on board with using the new telehealth tools. 

NYPCC is already enjoying improved outcomes thanks to their new Microsoft Teams integrations. Klein added, “We have seen increased engagement with our clients and a higher compliance rate. ….While previously someone would miss an appointment due to weather or various other factors, now these sessions can be held virtually without any issue.”

Microsoft gives you control to customize your IT platform to your needs while helping you comply with HIPAA standards. With Epic EHR integration, in-app telehealth calling, remote collaboration tools, custom virtual assistants, and incredibly powerful AI technology, there has never been a better time to go “all in” with your Microsoft investment. 

From HIPAA compliance and security to deployment and large scale project management, Windows Management Experts is the gold standard in healthcare IT consulting. Contact Windows Management Experts to discuss how your health IT needs can be met. Call 888-307-0133 today!

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