VMware Healthcare Blog, March 2021, Jens Koegler, Healthcare Industry Director EMEA

The last 12 months has been a case of unrelenting pressure on the world’s healthcare sector. Resources – from supplies and equipment to time and energy – have been stretched to breaking point. But this has, in turn, showcased the incredible resiliency of the sector as well as its ability to innovate. This will be critical in the coming years as the world moves on from the pandemic and begins to readdress issues that were prevalent long before COVID became part of the common vernacular.

The challenges of healthcare

It is too early to call this an inflection point. Countries are still grappling with rising cases, vaccine roll-out logistics and economic recovery. There is, of course, the issue of elective care and the collateral damage caused by COVID to other parts of the healthcare system. The UK, for instance, is facing the biggest backlog of appointments since records began, with recent reports suggesting the waiting list is likely to double to 10m people by April.

There is no doubt that life in healthcare is hard, and not getting easier in the immediate short term. But, for all the challenges being faced by the healthcare sector, technology shouldn’t be one of them – but it is. Legacy systems and migrations are increasing complexity and hampering speed; investment into IT is being scrutinised at a time when every penny counts and the trend to connectivity is a red flag to the world’s cybercriminal fraternity desperate to obtain millions of valuable patient profiles. Yet at the same time, time, tide and technology wait for no one. Thousands of healthcare workers fight for all of us every day to prevent diseases, cure us or care for us and to do that, they rely on having the right information available in the right place or system at the right time, which is leading to the emergence of four key themes: innovation, changing employee workplaces, collaboration with people and patients; and connected care.

Four industry trends emerging

First, let’s look at the rise of innovation. If healthcare companies are going to be able to deliver joined-up connected care, empower and inspire their staff and ensure their platforms and systems are both cyber-secure and future-flexible, they need to nurture a culture of innovation that permeates the entire organisation. Whether it’s about empowering telemedicine and remote health monitors, AI-driven clinical trials or better digital tools for home-visit nurses, new technologies powered by cloud platforms and solutions are changing the face of medicine and care provision. 

In the digital age it’s not just consumers and patients who are more informed, better-connected and more demanding. Employees too have raised expectations of their workplaces and how digital fits into it. Doctors, nurses, administrators, and consultants are far more digitally clued-up and demanding. This means they expect more from their workplace and accelerating digital transformation and modernising legacy IT is critical in order to improve employee experience.

‘Digital health’ today needs to be joined up – from patients to clinics, hospitals to pharmacies, nursing homes to caregivers. Connected Care means efficiency, accuracy and speed for those dispensing healthcare and its related services and products. For those receiving healthcare it means more than just a better customer experience; it means peace of mind, and a better quality of life. Healthcare organisations need to be empowered to rapidly scale up and down their resources according to operational demand, quickly and without a high cost of change. 

Finally, alongside the increasing connectedness, there’s also the increasing connectedness of things. The growth of the Internet of Things means the number of devices in constant communication is expanding exponentially. When we consider these trends taken together, it’s clear that the future era of compelling collaboration must be predicated on robust digital security. As digital healthcare becomes more of an integrated global system, complying with all the rules will be even more complex in future. Robust tools like mobile device management, coupled with biometrics, provide water-tight security for physical devices and protect patient data. 

Agility, safety and trust

Central to how these trends are manifested and realised is in the cloud technology supporting the development of applications. Indeed, according to a 2020 MIT Technology Review study of 80 healthcare executives, more than a third (39%) of healthcare respondents have accelerated their adoption of a cloud-based platform to support modern application development as a result of the pandemic and more than half (51%) surveyed are increasing patient experience investments. If you look around the healthcare sector and see the volume and variety of initiatives that rely on cloud, from; telehealth, which is improving population health and keep patients safe during the pandemic, to the delivery of pop-up health services, such as to be able to roll-out the vaccine programmes, to care continuity in preventing interruptions in service and defending against ransomware attacks, the rise and role of the cloud is becoming as integral as any other piece of medical equipment.

We are seeing healthcare organisations moving quickly to define cloud architecture, operations, security and processes for three main reasons. The first is agility and the ability to extend care and business models with modern, cloud-enabled IT and capitalise on the connected healthcare system. In doing so, it is the driving force behind reason number two – delivering better outcomes for patients. This means driving patient engagement with digital care that edge while empowering care teams and a distributed care workforce. All of which must be based on best-in-class security, which is reason number three – trust. No matter the innovation or technology, it will not work without the buy-in of both patients and caregivers and that relies on total trust.

VMware shares these concerns and is instrumental in helping to safeguard data for some of the world’s leading healthcare providers. Because VMware supports any cloud, any app and any device, VMware Healthcare Solutions accelerate real-time connected healthcare. Securely and at scale, the VMware digital foundation connects the health systems, data, and people residing everywhere at the heart of patient care for operational excellence and efficiency. Additionally, VMware cloud solutions deliver exceptional experiences to clinicians for remote-first work and patients for digital-first engagement from the right device, for the right task, at the right time while safeguarding protected health information (PHI) everywhere helping transform the cost, quality, and delivery of patient care from the data center to cloud and clinic to the point of care.

Dawn of digital healthcare

Healthcare is at a critical change period in its evolution, in so many regards. We’re at the dawn of the ‘digital health’ agenda: The adoption of disruptive, future-ready, emerging technologies that provide digital and objective data accessible to both caregivers and patients, creating and facilitating an equal-level doctor-patient relationship and the democratisation of care.

And we believe that with so many complex challenges the healthcare sector is, and will continue to face, technology shouldn’t be one of them.

You can read much more about how VMware is at the apex of this change on our new healthcare site here. Alternatively, you can also contact us at vmcare@vmware.com

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  1. We’re at the dawn of the ‘digital health’ agenda: The adoption of disruptive, future-ready, emerging technologies that provide digital and objective data accessible to both caregivers and patients, creating and facilitating an equal-level doctor-patient relationship and the democratisation of care. You can read much more about how VMware is at the apex of this change on our dedicated healthcare site [link] 

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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.