The most important security tool for health IT


The most important security tool for health IT

Millions of Americans benefit from advances in the design and implementation of government health IT systems. For the agencies responsible for operating these systems, however, the security of health data must be paramount -- and often the biggest challenge is finding the talent to maintain the security and confidentiality of the myriad data being collected. The skillsets are unique, and the training can be time consuming.

Working with a staffing firm can help in addressing these challenges. But finding the right health IT workers is like solving a puzzle, and agencies must first the many pieces. 

Generally, the three broad areas of health IT staffing needs are systems administration, data management and project oversight. Systems administration encompasses development, staging and day-to-day operations of system including hardware, software, networks and information assurance. Data management includes maintenance functions, queries and development of subsystems that aid in collection of data. And on the project oversight side, agencies are looking for people who can keep projects on schedule and driving forward. 

Once the relative needs in each of those areas is established, the following steps can help agencies ensure that the staffing firm finds the best possible candidates.

Make sure the staffing agency understands the requirements. To be successful in the health IT arena, with its unique  security and privacy components, staffing firms must fully understand the scope of the project and its desired outcome. With that information, a firm can start sourcing the best candidates to fit the particular project. Timing also can be a critical factor because a well-qualified candidate could be between jobs or working on the final stages of another project.

Vet the candidates. Each candidate must undergo a rigorous vetting process, which should include several interviews and a government background check. The onboarding process also requires completion of non-disclosure and confidentiality documentation.  Depending on the candidate’s qualifications, onboarding may also include training on the security provisions of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, as well as applicable provisions of the Federal Information Security Management Act FISMA and the Privacy Act of 1974.

Build contingency plans. Because security breaches are inevitable, agencies should work with staffing firms to develop contingency staffing plans. A strong partnership can make it easier for agencies to leverage the staffing firm’s relevant subject matter expertise.

As health IT information systems grow in size and complexity, agencies and their systems contractors will have an expanding need for reliable sources of well-trained and experienced project staff.  By partnering with the right staffing solutions provider, agencies can ensure that high-quality health IT staffing support is available when and where they need it.

About the Author

Tasha Manzano is senior vice president of government services at The Midtown Group, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.


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