VARs and MSPs that understand the opportunities and challenges in healthcare can tap into a lucrative opportunity selling backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions and services.
Let’s face it, healthcare in the United States is in turmoil. From the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, many hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare practices are struggling to serve patients and at the same time meet compliance requirements.
VARs and MSPs can play a key role in alleviating many of the challenges plaguing the healthcare industry. Industry experts from CharTec, Datto, Intronis, and StorageCraft have strong opinions and timely advice on this matter. What follows is their collective wisdom regarding available business opportunities and threats that must be mitigated in order to achieve success in the healthcare market.
A Growing Need For BDR Services
To properly understand what makes now such a pivotal time to sell BDR solutions in healthcare, it’s important to understand a popular industry phrase: Meaningful Use, which is an incentive-based program that incorporates certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to:
Meaningful Use is described in the HIPAA HITECH Act, which was signed into law February, 2009. Althought the requirement is six years old, many healthcare practices have struggled to make the switch from paper records to EHR. “An EHR is a record of the patient’s health information that can be created and shared by all healthcare providers for the patient,” says Casey Morgan, marketing content specialist at StorageCraft. “It includes the patient’s demographic information, clinical notes, medications, medical history, immunizations, lab and radiology reports, digital images, and more. The storage requirements for EHRs can quickly reach hundreds of terabytes for a medical practice.”
With more medical practices converting from paper to EHRs — for compliance, convenience, or costcutting reasons — the need for business continuity planning is becoming critical. Small, office-based practices are especially ripe for the picking, according to Rob Merklinger, VP of sales at Intronis. “According to the healthcare marketing research firm SK&A, only 29 percent of solo practices and 37 percent of two-physician practices currently use EMRs [electronic medical records, which are a subset of EHRs]. So, the majority of these small practices need a fully loaded EMR solution — from systems to back up — and don’t yet have one. Better still, they have government money at their disposal to upgrade their data management systems.”
Morgan concurs and adds, “Another Meaningful Use requirement is to provide patients with an electronic copy of their records upon request and enable them to access and download their records online within four business days of their being available. System availability and disaster resistance are absolutely necessary for medical practices to meet these requirements.”
1. Don’t Use Consumer Grade BDR. Nowhere can you find a cheaper deal on cloud storage than from a popular consumer-based public cloud provider. Even though the temptation may be great to choose this option and maximize your profit margins, don’t do it, warns Intronis’ Merklinger. “Whether your client’s practice has one doctor or 50, you need to ensure you’re working with a BDR vendor that meets all regulatory standards, which includes an SAS 70 Type II certified data center, as well as end-to-end data encryption. Consumer-grade BDR vendors don’t offer this, and they also can’t guarantee your clients’ data is protected by redundant data centers with an unlimited number of backup revisions.”
2. Don’t Settle For Subpar Support. Anyone who has ever experienced an IT system failure will tell you that there’s a much higher likelihood of something going awry after normal business hours. “Be sure your BDR vendor offers 24/7/365 support, preferably in-house instead of outsourced,” advises Rob Rae, VP of business development at Datto. “Additionally, their product should offer screenshot backup verification to ensure your scheduled backups are valid.”
3. Don’t Complicate Your BDR Landscape. Some IT solutions providers adopt a best-of-breed approach when it comes to selling BDR, using one vendor for customers in one vertical market and another vendor’s BDR for other customers. “Using multiple BDR products can quickly become an administrative and technical nightmare,” says Merklinger. “You don’t want to lose sleep by offering a solution to any of your clients that isn’t secure or recoverable. Plus, being able to monitor all your clients’ backups from a single portal is a much more efficient and effective way to run your business.”
4. Don’t Sell HIPAA Compliance. This advice may come as a shock to some VARs and MSPs, but according to Alex Rogers, founder and president of CharTec, you shouldn’t bank on HIPAA compliance and data security as being your biggest reasons why your customers should buy your BDR solution. “All business-grade BDR solutions have these features covered,” says Rogers. “To distinguish yourself from your competitors and to move beyond the cost-per-gigabyte pitfall, focus instead on the implications caused by not having BDR in place.” For example, Rogers recommends engaging and getting doctors and other healthcare stakeholders to share their business challenges and feedback about how downtime negatively affects their business. “The more important issue to solve is the TTR [time to restore] challenges that healthcare providers face. The amount of money in the form of efficiency, productivity, and culture lost during any moment of downtime, regardless of whether it is a major disaster or temporary hardware failure, can be astronomical.”
Rae concurs and adds: “Work with the healthcare business stakeholders to establish their RTO [recovery time objective] and RPO [recovery point objective]. Many BDR vendors offer RTO/RPO calculators [e.g., http://tools.dattobackup.com/rto/] that simplify this process.”
5. Don’t Sell To Only One Decision Maker. Another pitfall the experts warn VARs and MSPs to watch out for is influencing only one decision maker at a prospective healthcare practice. “Your best shot is to get a buyin from as many leaders as possible, with each having their own specific reason for choosing your product,” says Rogers. “A little known fact is that a CEO, on average, holds only about 65 percent influence in making a buying decision. If you’re focusing on selling only to the top person, you’re going into the opportunity with a D average. Boost your grade to an A by getting buyin from multiple doctors, front office staff, office managers, CFOs, and other key stakeholders.”