Microsoft recently announced it will end support for the Windows XP operating system on April 8, 2014 — and this may have HIPAA implications for your practice.

What could ‘support’ have to do with your HIPAA compliance? The biggest implication is that hackers could discover new ways to breach XP security — and no support means Microsoft will no longer issue patches to plug the holes.  That means you’ll potentially expose protected health information to hackers if you continue using the unsupported operating system.

Even if you’re using cloud-based EMR and other systems, your office PCs may still contain protected information — for example, if documents are scanned and saved to their drives.

The good news is, PC prices are lower than ever, and upgrading can make your team more productive.  (In virtually every practice we visit, we find at least a couple of computers that are so slow that they are adding to patient wait times at check in, check out and while scheduling on the phone — and cutting into staff productivity.  Inevitably, the practices believe they’re saving money by not upgrading, but at today’s prices, faster computers would likely pay for themselves very quickly.)

If you act fast, you might even be able to get Windows 7 machines — you’ll miss out on the pizzazz of the new Windows 8 interface, but also skip the longer learning curve when transitioning from XP.

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