End of Life for Windows XP: What This Means for Medical Practices

Windows XP End of Life(1)

Last month Microsoft ended its support of the Windows XP operating system, meaning there will be no more security updates, software updates, or technical support. If you continue using XP, there’s a good chance that hacking attacks could increase significantly without the regular security patches to protect your machines. Simply keeping antivirus software up-to-date won’t be enough, unfortunately.

But there’s another scary reality awaiting healthcare providers with an outdated operating system. If you are a covered entity under HIPAA, this could place your systems out of compliance and could even open up your patients’ PHI to vulnerability. Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) doesn’t mandate minimum operating system requirements, they do state that “any known security vulnerabilities of an operating system should be considered in the covered entity’s risk analysis (e.g., does an operating system include known vulnerabilities for which a security patch is unavailable, e.g., because the operating system is no longer supported by its manufacturer).”

For non-healthcare businesses, this can also present problems in compliance with various other regulatory requirements. The simple truth is that an obsolete operating system is going to be unsupported by most software vendors at the next product update.

Our partners at The ArcLight Group are IT specialists with extensive medical office and HIPAA security experience. They recommend that all healthcare providers verify if affected computers are still being used on their network. If you are still using computers that are running Windows XP, ArcLight’s recommendation is to replace the computers with refurbished Windows 7 Pro computers or brand new business class hardware. Newer versions of Windows can run poorly on older hardware. For medical offices, the minimum model of workstation recommended is:

• Dell Optiplex 755

• Windows 7 Pro 64bit

• 4GB of Memory/RAM

• Intel 64bit 2Ghz or higher Core2Duo Processor

The first step you should take is to verify if you have computers in your practice or organization that are still running Windows XP. If you do, now is the time to act. Not sure how to migrate off of Windows XP? ArcLight can help you set up new workstations and safely transfer your files and software. You can contact ArcLight at (918) 401-0763.