Healthcare technology trends to keep your organization ahead of the curve

Dec. 4, 2018

The impacts of technology such as the cloud and digital services have created a lasting impact on the industry, but what’s next? Those responsible for IT decisions have new challenges such as protecting patient information in the age of high-profile data breaches, as well as making patient data quickly and easily shareable to those who need access to it for time-sensitive medical decisions.

In order for your healthcare organization to effectively provide the best patient care, it is essential to stay apprised of the newest ways technology can help tackle the industry’s growing and ever-changing challenges. With expanding technology, healthcare providers can offer healthcare to more people and at a less expensive rate. Let’s dive into the technology that hospital or healthcare practices should be aware of to keep up.

Move security underground

Healthcare has unique challenges when it comes to security, especially compared to other industries. According to the recent Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report1, healthcare is the only industry in which internal actors were the biggest threat to security rather than external. As companies are all too aware of, data breaches can be deadly to an organizations brand, customer base, and pockets. In an industry where data is especially sensitive, organization’s need to stay informed in order to play offense. Today, this entails moving security underground, meaning embedding it on the network level, rather than on the cloud, where it can be closely monitored and safely stored. A similar report2 on protected health information breaches found that while hacking was a considerable threat—49% of incidents involved stolen credentials—it was shown that 66% of incidents involved “privilege abuse” or accessing sensitive data in an unauthorized manner. By keeping security at the network level, organizations will have a security infrastructure that is managed and measurable, allowing them to take a preventative stance on data breaches.

Transition to application-aware networking

In addition to moving security down to the network level, the network itself needs to evolve and change with the threat landscape. Software-defined networking has been implemented over the past few years where network traffic is just network traffic and is treated the same, regardless of the information passing through it. An application-aware network changes this and allows the network to prioritize critical traffic. As you can imagine, this can be extremely helpful in a hospital setting where sensitive information is constantly being accessed, in some cases, for a non-urgent annual checkup, and others in a life-or-death emergency room situation. In the complex environment of healthcare data, an application-aware network allows organizations to manage the performance, capability, and security of activities.

Pushing digital convergence

Building on both security and the network, one of the biggest drivers of change across industries is digital convergence. According to Gartner3, this “intelligent digital mesh” is one of the top strategic tech trends for the year. The healthcare industry is notorious for falling behind on technology trends, and digital convergence is no exception. Your patients and employees are already used to benefiting from connected devices and content in other aspects of their lives, so implementing technology to increase digital collaboration is a natural and even expected next step. To start, it’s important to develop a transformation roadmap to better understand what success will look like both internally and externally. It’s also important to understand the journey of patients and employees who will be most impacted by digital transformation. Thinking through the day-to-day tasks of users will help to inform the most realistic and helpful digital changes. For example, are visitors easily able to enter and navigate your facility? Is there a more collaborative opportunity for doctors in different locations to chat with a patient at the same time? Like many deep-rooted industry changes, these digital transformations are easier said than done, but the benefits are undeniable in the high-stakes and collaborative field of healthcare.

Moving forward

Implementing these trends will not immediately revolutionize the way your organization works or impenetrably protect you from the threat of breaches. Taking note and understanding the reasoning behind the evolving technology and applying it to your organization critically can help you to evolve and grow in the direction of a more connected, mature, and secure organization.

References:

  1. Verizon RISK Team. “2018 Data Breach Investigations Report.” Verizon Enterprise Solutions. March 2, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  2. Verizon RISK Team. “Protected Health Information Data Breach Investigations Report.” Verizon Enterprise Solutions. April 10, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  3. Panetta, K. “Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018.” October 3, 2017. Gartner. Accessed July 13, 2018.

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