Doctors and lawyers are two of the most universally respected careers. Having great earning potential gives people the perception that these jobs should be worth the inherent stress associated therein. The risks connected with these occupations, however, go far beyond the pressure of a typical job, arguably even others with high salaries. Intense workload, unrealistic demands, and lack of recognition make these careers some of the most stressful. Most workers also don’t fear a lawsuit if they make a mistake or are perceived to make a mistake at work. Piling on the anxiety for physicians and lawyers, the fear of litigation is a real threat for them, with over 1/3 of physicians having a malpractice claim against them at some point their careers, and 4 out of 5 lawyers experiencing at least one malpractice claim during their careers.
There are many reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits, including misdiagnosis, medical negligence, medication/anesthesia errors, incorrect instructions, lack of follow-up care/early discharge, and several others. Regarding causes of lawyer malpractice suits, the causes are just as plentiful: conflicts of interest, errors of omission, forgetting to cite statute of limitations or other associated case law, misappropriation of client funds, and improper legal advice, to name some. The reasons to initiate a lawsuit claiming a poor standard of care or remiss legal representation are incredibly vague, begging the question: how can professionals better protect themselves from legal action?
One answer lies in improved business processes and business strategy. The integration of digital technology is critical to protecting proprietary data like client and patient information. By integrating technology into these types of offices and driving digital transformation, offices can secure critical data, improve medical care, and enhance the patient and customer experience. A complete overhaul of existing systems probably isn’t necessary. Having an assessment performed on current systems by a trusted IT services partner is the first step to reducing future lawsuits.
There are several digital transformation strategies doctor and lawyer offices can deploy and customize, depending on need.
1. Managed IT Services
Managed IT can encompass many solutions. Mainly, though, incorporating managed IT into an office setting allows an outside business to service a company’s network on an ongoing basis at a regular rate. Having a secure and consistent network makes systems proactive instead of reactive—meaning security breaches of confidential patient records or client information stays private.
2. Network Security
Keeping systems safe and proprietary data secure is the cornerstone of network security. Cybersecurity threats continue to increase, and having IT services employed to curb an attempted breach is critical. Leaving a system open to HIPAA or client confidentiality violations is an easy way to bring about a lawsuit, and securing a network is the first line of defense.
3. Database management services
Most physician and law offices have a database system already that includes customer/patient and employee information, financial information, and record-keeping systems. IT solutions for database management can work with vendors to digitize paper records and integrate them into a digital system that is easily searched, cross-referenced, and organized. Doctors can search the database for important patient information, which reduces errors, and lawyers can ensure their cases aren’t in conflict with others. Database management also ensures compliance, security, and performance of data-driven applications working on an office’s network.
4. Cloud computing
Many organizations have suffered from the fear of cloud computing because of cybersecurity threats, but the cloud is more secure than ever. Most of the major cloud computing providers have made compliance and security inherent in their systems.
Cloud computing can be the platform (Platform as a Service or PaaS) for business models that want integration of other tools in addition to their cloud storage and inherent security. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are part of PaaS and drive data analytics. For physicians, AI can help use patient data to help reduce misdiagnosis and alert workers to drug interactions. For lawyers, AI can bring up statutes and similar case law when doing research and send reminders to follow up with clients. With AI and cloud computing continuing to improve with the latest machine learning algorithms, PaaS solutions will continue to grow as well.
5. Software support
Most physician’s offices use some form of electronic health record software. The electronic health record (AKA electronic medical record, EHR or EMR) is generally not well-liked by most physicians, who would rather work at the top of the licensure than spend time performing data-entry. Enlisting the help of a trusted IT partner to transform this area digitally would help many offices. Not only would it reduce a lot of physician’s headaches, but it would allow them to spend less time on data entry and patient histories and more time on error reduction and misdiagnosis. Law offices, too, could benefit from a software assessment. Paralegals and lawyers use a lot of templates for internal and external memo writing. Having a knowledgeable IT staff come in to help create and support materials to streamline operations would free up time better spent on higher-level work.
6. Computer repair
Because of the sensitive data housed on the computers in law and doctor’s offices, it’s best not to trust the repair of those machines to non-professionals. Partnering with a trusted managed IT solutions provider is the best solution when something goes wrong. Computer repair services usually fall under the umbrella of a managed IT contract but can also be pay-per-service as well. If a computer is ready for retirement, it is advisable to let an IT professional handle wiping the proprietary data as well, so as not to violate HIPAA or client confidentiality agreements.
Driving digital transformation initiatives throughout the medical and legal communities is an essential step in helping reduce the amount of malpractice lawsuits professionals deal with annually. Whether you’re looking to start small or modernize an entire office, the IT team at SumnerOne has the expertise to digitize your business and keep your data safe.
Get protected with Managed IT Services from SumnerOne. Contact us for an assessment today.