Microsoft 365 for Secure Healthcare Contract Management

Microsoft 365 for Secure Healthcare Contract Management

In this blog post, we'll look at how using Microsoft 365 provides a secure and compliant solution for managing healthcare contracts. We'll also learn how Dock 365, a contract management tool built on Microsoft 365, can strengthen the healthcare contracting experience.

Post-pandemic, we have seen digital disruptions in the healthcare sector forcing rapid digital transformation which induced an unplanned growth.

We see healthcare businesses pushing for smarter technologies such as wearables, integrated data and predictive analysis, healthcare data management, and AI-assisted care to solve their clinical and operational problems.

Because of the rapid growth in the adoption of digital technology solutions, the volume of data has seen unprecedented growth too. This raises issues regarding data privacy and the challenges to protecting people's privacy. Data breaches and unauthorized access to patient records pose real threats that have made healthcare businesses think about safeguarding their patient records. 

In order to avoid any data breaches, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security regulations provide a contractual framework that helps standardize healthcare transactions.

However, a comprehensive approach to data governance and compliance is important for organizing and protecting patient records. The right platform to handle healthcare data and electronic health records is Microsoft 365.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of securing patient data, the challenges in securing patient data, and the role of Microsoft 365 and benefiting from the solutions built on it.

The Importance of Securing Patient Data  

According to an article published by Forbes, the healthcare sector is the primary target for cybercriminals.

The reason why healthcare organizations are targeted particularly is because of the high monetary value of the patient records. These records include information such as the patient's medical history, protected health information (PHI), insurance coverage, and billing records.

Patient confidentiality is another aspect that is important for strengthening and maintaining trust. They entrust healthcare providers with their sensitive information and expect their privacy to be respected. HIPAA regulations in the US mandate the protection of patient records and failing to comply can result in hefty fines, and legal repercussions and could cause reputational damage.

Challenges of securing patient data in contracts  

The lack of proper contract management leaves the patient data vulnerable. Here are some of the challenges faced by healthcare businesses in securing their patient contract data:

  1. Lack of standardized clauses in healthcare is a common issue, where the contracts lack clear and standardized language which leads to confusion and increases the risks of errors.

  2. Tracking and managing multiple contracts and vendor agreements between insurers, laboratories, suppliers and regulatory bodies is challenging. Ensuring data security requirements and adhering to regulatory requirements can be exhausting when there is a diverse range of contracts to oversee.

  3. Missed details or errors in healthcare contracts because of missed communication is another challenge in ensuring contractual obligations are met. Not maintaining clear and open lines of communication could lead to disputes between the parties involved and could result in financial loss as well.

  4. Poor contract visibility is another challenge that leads to a lack of visibility into contract obligations. While some healthcare organizations know where their contracts might be stored, they do not have visibility or insight into potential risks, expenses, or compliance.

Microsoft 365 Contract Management for Healthcare

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is a cloud-based suite of productivity tools such as Word, Excel, Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive and more. Microsoft 365 comes with sophisticated security features such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, device management, and secure file sharing which reduces the risk of data breaches and ensures data security.

Microsoft 365 for Secure Healthcare Contract Management

Healthcare contracts consist of sensitive patient information and the sophisticated features offered by Microsoft 365 make it the right choice to manage contracts securely and ensure compliance. Microsoft 365 is HIPAA compliant, and it leverages machine learning and natural language processing which enhances the built-in security features preventing data loss.

Let's take a closer look at some of the value propositions that the Microsoft 365 suite of tools offers in the healthcare industry.

  1. Secure contract creation and collaboration
    In a highly regulated environment, Microsoft 365 enables healthcare contract creation while adhering to security standards and makes collaboration easy. SharePoint, a feature-rich tool from Microsoft, allows the swift creation of healthcare contract workflow.

    The SharePoint libraries can act as a secure hub for storing all your contract templates and use them as per your requirement, thus saving you time in drafting new contracts. The standard metadata options on SharePoint allow easy storage and retrieval of contracts stored in a centralized repository.

    Power Automate, the cloud-based service that can be integrated with SharePoint enables the automation of tasks such as contract approvals, reminders, and more. The clinical team can collaborate with the legal or finance team or with external stakeholders in the contract. The real-time collaboration and version control avoid any confusion over contract revisions.

  2. Workflow automation for secure approvals
    Although setting up an automated workflow for approvals increases efficiency and reduces error, security is given top priority. Using Microsoft 365 tools to manage contract processes allows contracting teams to securely design and manage workflows.

    Microsoft 365-enabled healthcare contracts benefit from secure approval processes that protect sensitive patient information throughout the entire contract lifetime. SharePoint's rule-based workflows allow healthcare contracting teams to design a set of criteria or conditions for reviewing and approving contracts. The pre-built workflow templates within SharePoint can be customized as per organizational requirements and this increases the quality of contracts.

  3. Data encryption and protection
    In the healthcare industry, data encryption and protection accounts for securely storing healthcare records, including financial information, to reduce the risk of data breaches. With the rising cybercrimes, encrypting data and making it readable only to authorized users within the healthcare organization is important.

    Microsoft 365 provides a secure cloud environment where data is stored in data centers. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), a type of encryption used in Microsoft 365, ensures that data is unreadable if a breach occurs and an unauthorized user attempts to access it. When the data is transferred from one device to another devices, Microsoft 365 uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Forward Secrecy (FS) protocols to secure the communications.

    Access to data can be restricted to authorized individuals at many different levels of organization based on their roles and responsibilities, significantly reducing data breaches.

  4. Compliance and risk management
    Now that you understand the significance of regulations in the healthcare industry, compliance, and risk management are essential for healthcare contracts. Traditional compliance and risk management had to deal with fragmented data storage, and manual compliance tasks that are time-consuming and error-prone.

    Microsoft 365 provides healthcare organizations with a centralized view of all the contracts enabling them to address the compliance gaps and vulnerabilities. The built-in automation features automate repetitive compliance tasks and recommend corrective actions mitigating compliance risks associated with patient data.

  5. Monitoring and auditing contract performance
    Effective monitoring and auditing of the performance of healthcare contracts is tricky especially when dealing with multiple vendors and providers. The suite of productivity tools offered by Microsoft provides real-time insights into contract performance.

    Analyzing contract reviews and creating contract performance reports is typically a laborious process. The centralized and secure contract repository facilitates swift audits, and healthcare teams can create interactive dashboards to monitor contract performance. Teams can configure automated notifications and warnings, which are generated when any contract performance metrics fall below a threshold that has been set.

 Best practices for implementation 

The first step in integrating Microsoft 365 with current healthcare contract management processes is to evaluate the current system. Define specific goals and learn about the tools available in Microsoft 365 to meet your business needs. Consider integrating one or two capabilities rather than completely overhauling your entire process. Get your contract team to understand the workflow and provide them with training.

Secure Healthcare Contracts with Dock 365

Dock 365 is a contract management solution built on Microsoft 365. You can get the most out of your current Microsoft investment with the custom-designed solution for your healthcare requirements. The industry-specific features allow healthcare organizations to gain complete control over their contracts.

Pre-built templates, standardized clauses, seamless communication, advanced analytics, and reporting features are some of the compelling benefits offered by Dock 365, a contracting system that is built on Microsoft 365. Dock 365 integrates seamlessly with the applications that you use daily such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, Dynamics 365, Teams, and more.

Using Dock 365, customization can be done at many levels and healthcare providers can scale their system as per their needs. Advanced security features, collaboration, and data analysis capabilities make Dock 365 an ideal choice for healthcare businesses.

Conclusion  

As the healthcare sector evolves, so do growing concerns over data security and privacy. To see how Dock 365 leverages the capabilities of Microsoft 365 and what transformative impact it can bring to your healthcare contract management processes, schedule a demo today.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not intended to be legal advice; rather, all information, content, and resources accessible through this site are for purely educational purposes. This page's content might not be up to date with legal or other information.
Author Profiles - Jithin Prem

Written by Jithin Prem

Jithin Prem is a seasoned digital marketer with a sharp eye for innovation and a love for using technology to propel organizations forward. Jithin has extensive knowledge of enterprise solutions, particularly contract management, in addition to his marketing expertise.
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Naveen, a seasoned content reviewer with 9+ years in software technical writing, excels in evaluating content for accuracy and clarity. With expertise in SaaS, cybersecurity, AI, and cloud computing, he ensures adherence to brand standards while simplifying complex concepts.

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