Christopher Logan, January 20, 2021

When everything went upside down with the onset of COVID-19, healthcare systems immediately saw the advantage of digital health technologies. Options such as telehealth made doctor appointments safe and straightforward. Physicians and care providers also discovered they could use the technology to meet their patients where they are — even when they were physically miles away.

But it’s not just COVID-19 that’s driving the change in healthcare. It’s also the rising expectations of the patients. Patients expect portals for booking and canceling appointments and checking lab results. They want to use their smartphones and laptops to communicate directly with their doctors via text, email, or video. For their part, clinicians also demand change. They want to use intuitive applications to register, monitor, and deliver care.

Digital healthcare is here to stay. Investment is coming fast; according to findings from a studyconducted by MIT Technology Review Insights (in association with VMware), 89 percent of healthcare executives are accelerating their digital transformation efforts.

Healthcare systems are playing catch-up. But without careful consideration, they could waste their money. There are five steps to lay down a foundation for a future-ready digital healthcare system.

  1. Transform the Data Center & Cloud-Enable HIT Infrastructure 

To simplify your operations and build a foundation for innovation, virtualize your compute, storage, and networking. Virtualization will allow your organization to use what you’ve already built and expanded on in the public cloud as part of a hybrid model. You can then layer your operational model so that it takes advantage of automation service ticketing.

Virtualization is essential because many healthcare organizations rely on legacy architectures that are often brittle and difficult to maintain. These architectures do their jobs — often satisfactorily. However, there’s a caveat: Legacy systems do not scale. They also aren’t a modern delivery model capable of meeting the demands of today’s medical consumers.

Healthcare systems can accelerate digital transformation with VMware digital infrastructure for multi-cloud. VMware solutions ensure providers keep up with changing patient and clinician demands — from traditional to pop-up hospitals, to remote practices and clinics. VMware solutions enable new care models while reducing IT cost and complexity. VMware’s any app, any cloud, any device architectural vision and technologies lead the industry in flexibility, reliability, protection, and scalability.

  1. Adopt Virtual Cloud Networking

Expanding into virtual cloud networking gives you a path to reach consumers where they are. Virtual networking enables communication between multiple computers, virtual machines, virtual servers, or other devices across different office and data center locations.

Virtual cloud networking allows healthcare providers to extend services beyond the hospital’s four walls, get into the patient’s home, and monitor them for care. At VMware, we’re looking at how we can extend the last mile of healthcare. Perhaps the consumer doesn’t have the technology to connect. Or maybe they don’t have broadband in their area. We want to reach those patients and improve their interactions with their healthcare providers. That’s where virtual cloud networking comes into play; It’s convenient for the patient and ultimately provides flexibility and cost savings for the provider.

  1. Improve the Patient Experience 

At VMware, we improve the patient experience by making it simple for consumers to access their applications and records while using any device.

Simultaneously, we make it seamless for the providers and care practitioners to use healthcare technology. We enable managed access to data and applications from any device through the VMware Digital Clinical Workspace. Clinicians can securely access Windows, SaaS, cloud-native, and mobile applications from anywhere. Providers can work at home, in the office, at a nurse station, or on the road.

Thanks to newly relaxed laws, this technology allows us to use doctors and specialists from across state lines. Patients visiting other regions can also telehealth with their home doctors for care. There is much potential here for administration and patient care. Of course, some obstacles still exist in various legalities and the interoperability of systems and records. The potential is groundbreaking, however.

  1. Secure Everything

Security needs to be ingrained into the digital transformation platform’s DNA, not something bolted on later. This is critically important because breaking down silos and having your system available on many devices gives you greater visibility across an entire plane. You’re additionally taking that technology plane and putting it in somebody’s home.

You must deliver zero-trust security across users, apps, and endpoints through policy management and machine-driven insights and automation. Making network security more granular through micro-segmentation can help lock down the system. If a malefactor should get in through the front door, the whole house isn’t open to that thief — each room, every hallway is protected by a locked door.

  1. Reach the Consumer Differently

After we’ve transformed the data center, connected to the virtual cloud, given the patient an excellent experience, and locked it all down — what next?

It’s time to be creative and develop your apps using agile methodologies and cloud-native principles, such as microservices, containers, and APIs. You can increase development velocity and time to market with VMware Tanzu solutions. You can build and deploy new, cloud-native applications that improve patient engagement and satisfaction, as well as inform healthcare consumers about public safety activities (such as contact tracing for COVID-19).

Unlock the Potential of Technology

How we treated patients 10 or 15 years ago will not be sufficient for what the future holds for us. The more we consumerize our lives and bring technology into our homes, the more we will demand it from our healthcare systems.

Importantly, healthcare is not just a physical issue but also a social and emotional one. Doctors can use facetime in the patient’s home to better understand their patients and the social determinants of their health. Digital healthcare will be more personal, not less.

The mandate is clear. We must create a frictionless patient experience — and we have the building blocks to lay down that future-ready, flexible, and caring foundation. Let’s deliver it.

Engage with us further by downloading the recent MIT Study executed in partnership with VMware.  MIT Executive Study Uncovers Top Healthcare Trends Shaping IT Resilience: How the pandemic drove unique transformation in healthcare

Christopher Logan

Mr. Logan joined VMware in October, 2015, and in his role he is responsible for empowering healthcare organization to achieve their strategic goals through the implementation of VMware’s solutions. Mr.…

Jens Koegler

Jens Koegler is VMware's Healthcare Industry Director in EMEA. He is helping our healthcare customers develop and run modern applications to drive innovation and ensure better patient care through a digital foundation that includes data center, hybrid cloud, mobile, networking and security technologies. VMware plays a strategic role in the healthcare industry. Its leading innovations in enterprise software help ensure consistent patient care and reduce IT access time for healthcare professionals so they can spend more time with their patients. Jens plays a key role in helping customers understand how new applications, devices, the latest IT technologies and digital transformation are driving innovation in healthcare.