Eliminate Hacker Attacks With Hosted Networks
Computer Concepts, Inc. specializes in networked solutions for the healthcare market and currently provides managed services for 135 medical practices and two hospitals. Eric LaRochelle, president and founder of Computer Concepts, sees a growing interest in hosted solutions among smaller medical offices. "HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] regulations are driving the medical community to update their IT systems. Practices need to demonstrate clear intent to secure the network and have the correct auditing capabilities, but this can be problematic and costly where there aren't economies of scale."
LaRochelle estimates the initial cost to build an IT infrastructure at a four-doctor practice averages $140,000, not including support. "With hosting," he points out, "customers save a great deal of money, and their costs are fixed. The cost for hosting over a five-year period is much less than the initial expense to build the infrastructure."
Computer Concepts manages IT systems for Southwest Family Medicine, a small Colorado-based group practice. Vicky Rauzi, practice manager and part-owner of Southwest, engaged Computer Concepts following a debilitating computer problem. In July 2003, the practice's computers suddenly froze, leaving Southwest without computers for three weeks.
Rauzi says, "We were literally back to paper and pencil. We didn't know which patients had been scheduled or how much doctor or nursing time we needed. We couldn't see if there was an outstanding balance when patients came in, so we couldn't do collections, but of course we still had to pay staff and cover expenses."
Virtual Private Network Blocks Hackers
At that point, Rauzi called Computer Concepts, who retrieved the equipment only to discover that hackers were still using it as music and game servers, effectively disabling the practice's network. LaRochelle decided on a complete change of approach to secure Southwest's systems for the future.
Computer Concepts replaced the practice's firewall with SonicWALL TZ 170 Series security appliances, converted the practice's systems to thin clients, and installed a new practice management system based on a hosted SonicWALL PRO 2040 appliance running Global VPN (virtual private network) Client software and SonicWALL's Intrusion Prevention Service. The TZ 170s provide secure VPN tunnels over a DSL (digital subscriber line) to the hosting center, which maintains, audits, and updates all systems.
Southwest is now experiencing the network security that managed IT services provide. "This was a bad experience that had a very good outcome for us," says Rauzi. "The technical support that we now receive from Computer Concepts frees us up to get on with the business of providing patient care."