How El Centro rebuilt IT infrastructure to improve security

When El Centro de Corazón, a health organization in Houston, set out to rebuild its IT infrastructure to ensure security of their systems, they found that trust between the executive team and their IT support was paramount.

In 2012, they sought out the help of a consulting group to improve the infrastructure and make it HIPAA and HITECH complaint, according to a case study published in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association.

Last spring, Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said despite some privacy and security wins, the healthcare industry's knowledge of the HITECH ACT continues to lag.

Three of the changes El Centro made to improve its systems and security included:

  • Upgrading the network: El Centro added new fiber network links between clinical locations and a new firewalled gateway link to the Web, according to the study. This improved network speed and reliability.
  • New email service: The health system switched from an in-house email system to Microsoft Office, a cost-effective move, the study says. The new service improved security for desktop and mobile access.
  • Replacing servers: El Centro installed three new servers to support Windows Domain "with virtual domain controllers and distributed file servers replicated at each major clinic location," the study says. That allowed the organization to have centrally-managed user authentication.

In early 2014, the organization updated its network again--with 60-megabyte fiber connections between clinics.

"After two-and-a-half years of frugal planning and dedicated efforts, El Centro's IT infrastructure is now much more resilient, secure, and ready for their planned growth and expansion in 2015," the study concludes. "With the right planning, any provider can make the changes necessary to ensure patient care is helped--not hurt--by health IT systems."

In addition, primary care practices require sustained, focused efforts to effectively incorporate health IT into their work to improve care, according to a case study of practices in the Colorado Beacon Consortium published last summer in eGEMs.

To learn more:
- here's the case study