How to Maintain A Reliable and Skillful IT Department

it department

A successful business relies on a dependable and proficient IT department to support and maintain your company’s infrastructure. Having an IT team who are mentally and/or physically exhausted or dissatisfied can result in issues with your operations that can cause technological emergencies. Maintaining a dedicated IT team is essential to ensure your network operates at its maximal performance.

Continue reading to find the three best practices you can do in order to have a successful and fulfilled IT department.

Fill Open IT Positions ASAP

Although there might be some job positions within the organization that does not necessarily need to be filled immediately, filling any openings within the IT department as quickly as possible is a must. 

If a member of your IT department leaves the company, the rest of the group must carry the load. While the remaining team members may work more hours to help fill the gap, it is your responsibility to take the extra time needed to find an appropriate replacement. If the rest of the department feels like the hiring process is moving slowly in order to save money, they will have ill will towards the company, and their work will show precisely how they feel. If filling in the open position takes longer than anticipated, try to pay your IT staff a little more for the extra time and hard work they have been putting in.

Negotiate for Your IT Budget

Just like in any other position, the right tools are required to do a job properly. This is also true for the department of IT. Unfortunately, when it comes to creating a budget, the administration can cut the funding for IT or not allocate more money to the department. If your employees in IT see other departments growing while they feel overworked and exhausted, they will become burnt out and may eventually leave the company.

It is important to remember that the more complete an IT department is, the more willing employees will be to keep the company’s IT infrastructure as secure as possible. IT funding should be incorporated into the budget as a priority because IT can help increase productivity and efficiency. 

Outsource Short-Term Projects and Routine IT Maintenance 

Often if your IT team gets overwhelmed with short-term projects or routine IT maintenance, there might not be enough time spent on improving the company’s network operations. Distributing these tasks to another company, also known as co-managed IT services, can free up your IT team and allow them to focus on meaningful IT projects that can improve the productivity and efficiency of the department. 

At WheelHouse IT, our team can help assist your IT department by remotely taking care of your routine IT maintenance and any short-term projects your organization may encounter. For more information, contact us today at 954.474.2204.

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What Are The Three Rules of HIPAA?

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lays out three rules for protecting patient health information, namely:

  • The Privacy Rule 
  • The Security Rule
  • The Breach Notification Rule

A national standard is established when these three rules are followed, and health information that could be used to identify a person is addressed by these standards and privacy procedures.

Failure to adhere to the three HIPAA rules, compliance obligations, and security policy–or any security breach of electronic information systems through unauthorized access to electronic health records, confidential health, and medical history, or electronically protected health information–can result in civil money penalties (and even criminal penalties), a loss of reputation for healthcare professionals due to intentional violations, and even the loss of employment for an employee.

Businesses can face fines of up to $1.5 million for failing to comply with the law and addressable implementation specifications. As a result, if you are one of the covered entities under HIPAA, you must follow the three HIPAA rules and security management processes, taking appropriate corrective action when necessary.

Why are the three rules necessary?

For Private Healthcare Information (PHI): there wasn’t much of a consensus on what the best practices for PHI should be. But things began to change after the introduction of HIPAA.

In the beginning, there were privacy and security rules. Protected health information (PHI) was the focus of HIPAA’s new standards, which applied to the entire healthcare industry.

In addition to this, HIPAA’s primary goal was to improve the patient experience. Covered entities were given a variety of policies and procedures to ensure that their clients’ information was protected without a lot of hassle. Reduced paperwork, in addition to improving workflow, is a benefit to the covered entity.

To meet HIPAA’s requirements, code sets must be used in conjunction with patient identifiers. Health insurance portability is aided as a result of this ease of information transfer. With the Portability and Accountability Act in mind, healthcare providers are attempting to make the patient’s experience more pleasant.

HIPA’s rules also serve some much more minor purposes. Life insurance loans may be exempt from tax deductions, depending on the circumstances. It also improves the efficiency of healthcare services and makes it easier for patients to interact with them.

Who needs to have HIPAA compliance?

Private hospitals, health insurance companies, medical discount providers, and other business associates are all included in the scope of HIPAA’s application.

This type of business is known as  “covered entities,” and must abide by the HIPAA regulations and security standards. Exceptions to the HIPAA rules for covered entities are extremely rare.

A company or organization that provides third-party health and human services to a covered entity must adhere to the HIPAA regulations. As “business associates,” these companies are subject to the same regulations as the covered entities, even though they do not provide direct services.

The business associate agreement must be signed by both business associates and covered entities. Before undergoing any procedures, the confidentiality and integrity of PHI must be preserved, and the business associate agreement does that.

The three main rules of HIPAA

As mentioned earlier in this article, HIPAA legislation is made up of a few rules that outline what you must do to comply with the law. We’ll now discuss them in detail below:

1. The HIPAA privacy rule

HIPAA defines the circumstances under which a person may disclose or use PHI. Everyone has a right to privacy, but as we all know, there are some situations in which the rule might be applied. Those who are covered by this policy must adhere to a set of rules.

The standards set by the privacy rule address subjects such as: 

  • Which organizations must follow the HIPAA standards
  • What is protected health information (PHI)
  • How organizations can share and use PHI
  • Permitted usage and disclosure of PHI
  • Patient’s rights over their health information

In 2003, the HIPAA Privacy Rule was first put into place. That includes healthcare providers, as well as clearinghouses, and other health insurance entities. Healthcare-related business partners joined the list in 2013.

For the most part, the rule on patient privacy restricts the extent to which medical records can be shared without explicit consent. Allows patients and their next of kin (representatives) to access their medical records under the HIPAA privacy rule These requests for access and disclosure must be responded to within 30 days of receipt by the Covered Entities. 

Healthcare entities covered by HIPAA include:

  • Health plans 
  • Health care clearinghouses 
  • Health care providers 

The privacy rule restricts the usage of health information, which could identify a person (PHI). Covered entities cannot use or disclose PHI unless:

  • It’s permitted under the privacy rule, or
  • The individual has authorized it in writing.

The privacy rule does not restrict de-identified health information. 

2. The HIPAA security rule

The HIPAA Security Rule sets out the minimum standards for protecting electronic health information (ePHI). To access that information in electronic format, even those who are technically capable of doing so would have to meet those standards.

The HIPAA security rule covers the following aspects:

  • The organizations that may need to follow the security rule and be deemed covered entities.
  • Safeguards, policies, and procedures that can be put in place to meet HIPAA compliance
  • Health care information that is under the protection of the security rule

To put it simply, anyone who is part of the BA or CE and can access, alter, create or transfer recorded ePHI will be required to follow these standards. These technical safeguards will involve NIST-standard encryption in case the information goes outside the firewall of the company. 

In addition to technical safeguards, the security rule will include several physical safeguards. If you’re in a public area, you won’t be able to see the screen because of a workstation layout. Only a specific area within the company’s network allows you to do this.

Administrative safeguards are also checked, and they are combined with the security rule and the privacy rule. A privacy officer and a security officer are required to conduct regular (an ongoing process) audits and risk analyses as part of these safeguards.

These evaluations are critical to the safety of the system. When considering possible threats to the PHI, they don’t care if it’s just a theory. Consequently, they plan to implement a risk management plan based on it to avoid any potential risks that could occur in the future. 

A covered entity must take the following steps to ensure the security of all ePHI they create, send, or receive:

  • Ensure the confidentiality integrity and availability of the PHI
  • Protect against improper uses and disclosures of data
  • Protect the ePHI against potential threats, safeguarding their medical records
  • Train employees so that they are aware of the compliance factors of the security rule
  • Adapt the policies and procedures to meet the updated security rule

Confidentiality, integrity, and availability rules in health care must be met by the covered entity.

3. The HIPAA breach notification rule

Occasionally, there may be a breach. The breach notification rule comes into play here. The Department of Health and Human Services must be informed as soon as possible if there has been a data breach. Regardless of the nature of the breach, this must be done within 60 days of its discovery, this is where a good risk management plan comes in handy.

If a breach during administrative actions involves a person‘s personal information, that person must be notified within 60 days of the discovery of the breach.

In the event of a large-scale breach that affects more than 500 patients in a specific jurisdiction, the media should be informed as well.

An immediate announcement of a privacy violation is required by the HIPAA rule for breach notification. The Office for Civil Rights may impose fines if you don’t comply.

Alternatively, the Covered Entity may decide not to send a breach notification if it can show that the critical element of the PHI has not been compromised. A violation of privacy and security rules would be warranted if they are found to have been compromised.

Reportable Breaches and Exceptions

A breach of PHI occurs when an organization uses or improperly discloses PHI. However, they are only required to send alerts for PHI that is not encrypted. In addition to this, there are three additional circumstances in which the breach notification rule is more lenient, during such compliance violations and PHI breaches.

  1. If it was unintentional or done in good faith, and was within the scope of the authority.
  2. If it was done unintentionally between two people permitted to access the PHI.
  3. If the organization has a good faith belief that the person to whom the disclosure was made would not be able to retain the PHI.

Under such a case, the organization should ensure that such incidents don’t reoccur and take corrective action plans. Breach alerts are required only for unsecured PHI. If you secured it as specified by this guidance, then you don’t need to send the alerts. 

Partner with Wheelhouse IT 

You may believe that you can meet the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on your own, and you may be right. A HIPAA-verified Managed Service Provider (MSP) makes it much easier to achieve HIPAA compliance than if you were to do it on your own.

To keep your organization and in-house IT department HIPAA compliant, you can rely on Wheelhouse IT. Some of the benefits of working with us include:

  • Conducting HIPAA security risk assessments
  • Encrypting all PHI and stored data
  • Implementing backup and disaster recovery plans to keep data secure
  • Identifying system vulnerabilities and providing high-quality solutions
  • Providing the necessary technology to ensure data security
  • Providing services such as Remote Monitoring Management (RMM), cloud-to-cloud backup, and authentication and access control

WheelHouse IT is ready to help your business navigate HIPAA compliance.

If you are looking for the assistance of an MSP for your HIPAA compliance needs, book time on our calendar below.

Make the Best Technology Decisions for Your Business

business technology

When it comes to business, productivity and profitability are directly correlated. If your company has a high productivity rate, then chances are your company is also highly profitable. On the other hand, if your organization is not as productive, then revenue is most likely down as well. Fortunately, there are simple modifications you can do to enhance your company’s productivity. With the use of technology, you can refine your organization’s process which would in turn increase productivity and profitability.

Automate Technology as Much as Possible

Automation is when a machine completes simple, repetitive tasks by following instructions or workflows. An automated machine runs as efficiently as the human who programmed it. As with most businesses out there, members of your organization will more than likely have several work tasks to complete. Automated processes, such as artificial intelligence, end-to-end management software, and various other smart tools and devices can help alleviate employees’ tasks, all while saving money for your business in the long run.

Improve Your Collaborative Approach

With the proper systems up and running, it is much easier for companies to manage workloads more effectively and efficiently. There are strategies that you can utilize to assist members of your team in collaboration and the development of ideas. Some of the tools you can use are:

  • Customer relationship management (CRMs): CRMs can assist in enhancing client satisfaction which in turn will improve the workflow of your organization. CRM software allows you to manage various job tasks and assign those tasks, keeping members of your team responsible for their specific duties.
  • Video conferencing: Video conferencing can help all employees of the organization, whether they work in the office or remotely from home. This tool allows all members of your team a place to meet and collaborate on any projects the company may have.
  • Collaboration tools: Depending on your organization’s specific needs, there are a variety of tools that can assist in team collaboration. Intranet software allows employees to communicate, collaborate, and perform their job duties efficiently. Software integration is the process of incorporating software parts to allow for increased communication and sharing of data between all members of the organization.
  • Productivity applications: Cloud-based productivity applications provide your team with the tools needed to boost productivity and work engagement. Applications can vary from written documentation to organizing a presentation. As long as users have access to the internet, they can utilize these tools on any device that has a web browser. 

Most Importantly, Customer Satisfaction

Many companies rely on customers to keep their businesses thriving. Previous studies found that the retention of clients is about five times less costly than the acquisition of clients. Therefore, it’s important to involve your customers. The best tool to keep customers involved in the CRM. The main purpose of a CRM is to update your clients and keep them engaged from a business standpoint. Customers will be able to give feedback which provides valuable data for you and your company to make informed decisions.

Your business will continue to grow if it’s operated efficiently and effectively. WheelHouse IT can offer various business technology solutions based on your company’s needs. To learn more, please contact us at 954.474.2204.

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5 Ways Managed IT Services Boosts Your Business Growth

More businesses are discovering that managed IT offers an effective alternative to keeping a robust IT department on staff. Even better, business owners have come to realize that using an MSP’s IT services boosts their company’s growth. Take a look at five of the ways that using managed IT services can go the extra mile and improve your business’s outcomes.

What Type of Business Needs Managed IT?

Simply put, small, medium, and large businesses can benefit from managed IT services. Of course, small and medium teams tend to need managed services the most because they have the biggest gaps in IT knowledge on their teams while simultaneously having the smallest budgets to work with to achieve their goals.

Any business that needs specialized outcomes over a short or medium time should seek managed IT services.

How Do I Know My Business Needs Managed IT Services?

The symptoms of a business that needs managed IT services are easy to spot. Consider each of these signs that your company could benefit from an MSP’s services:

  • Your IT workers lack knowledge in an area that is needed for a short-term project (adding servers, configuring security, developing the company website)
  • You can’t count on your hardware to function all the time
  • Your business loses significant amounts of work time due to IT failures
  • You have a short-term IT project to complete that does not necessitate hiring a new team member

These are some of the most prominent signs that your business needs to invest in managed IT services. MSPs that provide IT services give you the flexibility and scalability you need to fix up your existing system or prepare for valuable expansions.

How Managed IT Services Can Boost Business Growth

Using a managed IT provider to help your business is not just about stemming the tide and keeping your head above water for another quarter. These services are an integral tool for helping boost your business’s growth. Here’s how it works.

  1. Faster Response Times

When you have a sudden problem appear in your workplace, you need workers that are familiar with your systems and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Partnering with an MSP for IT provides you with a team of professionals that can act as a disaster response team to get your workplace back to normal.

  1. Instant Scalability

Did you underestimate your manpower needs for a project? No problem. Managed IT services can help you scale up for a short-term project or add more team members when a project starts to get out of hand. When the work is done, so is the billing.

  1. Freeing Up Resources

Do you need your core workers focused on a new internal project rather than typical maintenance and answering Help Desk questions? Then you can bring in the MSP professionals to handle your day-to-day work and free up your team members to work on something new.

  1. Lower Costs in IT Allows for Increases Elsewhere

Why should you hire another worker for IT when you only need a month or two worth of work completed? It’s much simpler and cheaper to bring in a temporary reinforcement so that your business can allocate the rest of their potential salary into another department.

  1. Future-Proof Your Business

Not all workers continue to learn after they settle into a business setting. That attitude can lead to stagnation. If you need IT members to come in and teach your workers some new tricks, then you can simply leverage the MSP workers that stay on the cutting edge.

Each of these reasons can help you see why managed IT services are so important to consider for businesses today.

Now that you know how managed IT services can help your business, you probably want to see how they can help your particular company. Contact us today with a quick call or email, and let us show you how our experts can make an impact on your business.

Our IT professionals can help your business reach the next level and stay competitive no matter the size of your company!

How To Send HIPAA Compliant Email

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How To Send HIPAA Compliant Email

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) set the standard for healthcare providers in protecting sensitive patient data. Any organization that handles protected health information (PHI) must adhere to all applicable physical, network, and process security measures. HIPAA-compliant email solutions and all aspects of email security fall under this category. But HIPAA compliance for email communications (email accounts and email services) is often viewed as a baffling subject matter.

Organizations subject to HIPAA include covered entities (any company that provides treatment, medical practices, payment, or healthcare operations) and business associates (any company with access to PHI that provides support for covered entities). Even subcontractors (i.e. business associates of business associates) must comply with HIPAA secure communications rule. These organizations and entities have to overcome all compliance challenges that may come their way, in order not to breach HIPAA rules.

What is HIPAA compliant email?

In 2000 the HIPAA Privacy Rule created for the first time a set of national standards for safeguarding certain health information. It allows covered entities to disclose PHI to a business associate if it receives assurances that the business associate will use the information only within the scope in which it was engaged by the covered entity.

The HIPAA Security Rule was added in 2003 to set out what safeguards must be in place to protect electronic PHI (ePHI), which is health information that is held or transferred in electronic form.

In regards to email, covered entities are required to take reasonable steps to protect ePHI as it’s transmitted electronically to the recipient’s inbox.

Once the email reaches the recipient, the obligation of the sender ends, and it becomes the recipient’s job to secure any PHI they have in their inbox.

If you are using a third party to transmit or host ePHI, the company is required by law to sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with you. A BAA establishes that certain administrative, physical, and technical safeguards are in place to protect patient data.

While no certification makes an email provider HIPAA compliant, meeting the requirements set by the HIPAA Privacy & Security Rules is the best place to start, along with ensuring strong technical security measures to make sure ePHI is protected inbox to inbox.

 Does HIPAA require email encryption?

The terms “required” and “addressable” are used to describe HIPAA encryption requirements. Encryption protocols labeled as mandatory must be implemented if you want to remain in compliance with HIPAA. If a risk assessment determines that encryption is necessary to protect ePHI, addressable encryption protocols must be implemented.

This decision should be documented and an equivalent solution implemented to protect ePHI if your organization decides encryption is not necessary. Because there is no suitable alternative to encryption for protecting ePHI in an email, it is effectively necessary. Your patients’ information and your organization could be at risk if you don’t encrypt your emails.


There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your email is HIPAA-compliant:

Ensure you have email encryption (end-to-end encryption) for email

Email is a quick and easy way to communicate electronically for healthcare organizations, but it does not necessarily ensure security nor usually have extra security and compliant technology solutions. Even services that encrypt messages in transit may not have the required level of security to make them HIPAA compliant. To make your email is HIPAA compliant and ensure cloud-based email security, you should ensure you have end-to-end encryption, which encrypts both messages in transit and stored messages. Access controls are used to ensure only the intended recipient and the sender can access the messages.

Some email service providers require individual emails to be encrypted by clicking a button or using a portal. Since it is easy to forget to turn on encryption and accidentally send an unencrypted email, it is a better choice to encrypt all emails, not only those that contain ePHI. This will reduce the potential for human error.

The type of encryption used is also important. While previously Data Encryption Standard (DES) was considered secure, that is no longer the case. You should consult NIST for advice on suitable encryption standards. Currently, AES 128, 192, or AES 256-bit encryption is recommended.

For many HIPAA-covered entities, especially smaller healthcare providers that do not have in-house IT staff to ensure their email is HIPAA-compliant, the use of a third-party HIPAA-compliant email service provider is strongly recommended.

Research potential HIPAA-compliant email service providers to ensure that they provide a service that is suitable for your requirements. A search on Google will produce several potential service providers.

Enter into a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement with your email provider

In your compliance effort, before using a third-party email service to send ePHI, you should obtain a business associate agreement. As outlined in the business associate agreement, the service provider is responsible for ensuring ePHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability through the use of administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.

You should look for an alternative option if an email service provider or compliant email vendor refuses to sign a business associate agreement as one of the business requirements. To work with HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates, an email service provider should be willing to sign a BAA.

Ensure your email is configured correctly

It is possible to violate HIPAA rules even if a BAA is obtained because of the risks of email. It is not enough to use a BAA-protected email service to ensure that your email is HIPAA compliant, you must ensure that your email is configured correctly and take appropriate compliance security measures.

Develop policies on the use of email and train your staff

Training your staff on the proper use of email concerning ePHI and compliance with regulations is essential after you have implemented your HIPAA-compliant email service. Health care workers, in the busy healthcare environment, have been responsible for several data breaches, including the unintentional transmission of ePHI via email without encryption and the transmission of ePHI to individuals who were not authorized to see the data. Employees must be aware of their HIPAA obligations and trained on how to use the email service to comply with the law.

Ensure all emails are retained

Because email retention is not specifically mentioned in HIPAA legislation, HIPAA’s rules on email retention are a little unclear. Covered entities should maintain an email archive, or at least ensure that emails are backed up and stored because individuals can request information on disclosures of protected health information and email communications may be required when legal action is taken against a healthcare organization. Emails may also be required to be kept for a set period of time under state law. Because of this, you should check the laws governing email in the states where you do business. Consult a lawyer if you’re unsure about anything.

HIPAA requires covered entities to keep documentation related to their compliance efforts for six years, and the retention period for security-related emails and emails relating to privacy policy changes should be six years.

Storage space is required even for small and medium-sized healthcare organizations to store 6 years of emails, including attachments. When it comes time to back up your emails, consider using a secure, encrypted email archive instead. Additionally, since an email archive is indexed, searching for emails in an archive is a quick and easy process. Emails can be quickly and easily retrieved if they are needed for legal discovery or a compliance audit.

To be classified as a business associate under HIPAA, any email archiving service provider will be subject to the same regulations as email service providers. It would be necessary to sign a BAA with that service provider and obtain reasonable assurances that they will abide by HIPAA rules.

Obtain consent from patients before communicating with them via email

HIPAA-covered entities need to remember that even if a HIPAA-compliant email provider is used, the patient’s written consent must be obtained before any ePHI is sent via email, no matter how convenient it may be. Patients should be made aware of the potential dangers of sending confidential information via email. Emails containing electronic health information (ePHI) can be sent if the sender is willing to accept the risks.

Partner with Wheelhouse IT 

You may believe that you can meet the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on your own, and you may be right. A HIPAA-verified Managed Service Provider (MSP) makes it much easier to achieve HIPAA compliance than if you were to do it on your own.

To keep your organization and in-house IT department HIPAA compliant, you can rely on Wheelhouse IT. Some of the benefits of working with us include:

  • Conducting HIPAA security risk assessments
  • Encrypting all PHI and stored data
  • Implementing backup and disaster recovery plans to keep data secure
  • Identifying system vulnerabilities and providing high-quality solutions
  • Providing the necessary technology to ensure data security
  • Providing services such as Remote Monitoring Management (RMM), cloud-to-cloud backup, and authentication and access management 

If you are looking for the assistance of an MSP for your HIPAA compliance needs, call the team at Wheelhouse IT today!