E-Health.com, 04.11.2021, Auto-Translation
Carsten Kramschneider, Manager Solution Engineering, Public, Healthcare & Commercial,
Safely into the future of healthcare with digital apps
Online treatment methods, digital health monitoring and better-quality patient diagnoses – digital health apps offer these benefits and more. The Corona pandemic has accelerated digitization in many areas, but it has not yet progressed in the healthcare sector. Often, communication in healthcare facilities still takes place in paper form, but this is to be replaced in the future by the digital transmission of prescriptions and patient records. The pandemic shows that the healthcare sector in particular is being called upon to offer modern and digital services, thereby opening up a new business field with great potential.
Simple processes such as making appointments online or prescriptions via apps are not yet commonplace. However, there is no shortage of digital tools that the healthcare industry could make use of. For example, diabetics benefit from digital tools to track their blood glucose levels, and digital diaries can also be used to document the mental states of mentally impaired patients.
In any case, the digital healthcare sector is expected to take a big step toward complete digitization by the end of 2022. Particularly in the case of an everyday issue such as the prescription of prescription drugs, the digital prescription is to become the norm in the future. Treatments can also be carried out in a more efficient and time-saving manner – video consultation will be of great importance here. Health apps, which are intended to prevent illnesses in advance, or the electronic patient file are further examples of various possibilities. In addition, the analog handling of the transmission of X-ray images or doctor’s letters is soon to be replaced by a digital variant.
Digital development – VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 study
The Digital Frontiers 3.0 study also shows that more digital interaction with healthcare providers is desired. Less than a quarter of the more than 1,000 respondents (22 percent) take the view that healthcare facilities offer better digital service today than before the pandemic broke out over a year ago. Fifty-seven percent are positive about digital transformation in the healthcare sector and would support further developments such as video consultations. However, these have hardly been used in practice to date. In the long term, only those companies that manage to implement solutions digitally will continue to be successful.
But patients are making demands on digital applications: Security and data protection are top of the list, with a full 67 percent rating this aspect as an essential criterion for the use of digital services. Half of those surveyed also demand simple control and use across multiple applications. And 32 percent expect fast and uncomplicated services.
A decisive group of end consumers is open to digital innovations. 40 percent are open to conducting their checkup appointments via video conferencing, and the offer of a video consultation would be gladly accepted. A digital health record would be taken up by four-fifths of respondents if it were already implemented in healthcare providers’ processes. The same number of respondents express a preference to receive an electronic prescription from their doctor. In addition, remote appointments will partially replace on-site appointments, which will save time for both physician and patient as a benefit. Another key point is monitoring care recipients at home, so they don’t necessarily have to move to an assisted living facility. More than two-thirds support the use and integration of health apps.
However, skepticism about this digital transformation is also evident. Less than one-third of respondents express that they do not have a full guarantee from healthcare facilities to securely store and use their data. Another almost one-third of respondents shy away from disclosing personal data to the doctor regarding diet or alcohol consumption and other lifestyle habits, even though this would enable more accurate and personalized diagnoses.
IT Security as a Priority – Intrinsic Security
One thing is certain – healthcare facilities will undergo a digital transformation, but users of these services expect one thing above all else: security. This aspect is crucial in determining whether patients would enter their data into digital apps or not.
To guarantee the necessary security, intrinsic security from VMware can be implemented. These concepts guarantee end-to-end security, it is a holistic end-to-end solution that works with micro-segmentation. The security starts with the input via a mobile device or app and runs through the processes to the storage in the company’s own private cloud. This means that there is one overall solution instead of several individual solutions, which may be too complex or not properly networked with each other. Updates and maintenance are no longer a major hurdle. To provide the highest possible security, the company network is segmented into several protection classes. This means that patients’ personal data comes first, with administrative data and entertainment systems, for example, taking second place: In hospital settings, they may be assigned to a lower-priority protection class. VMware’s strategic security approach includes consolidation options, which in turn helps to optimize costs. In addition, internal security is seen as a solution approach to remain flexible for the future and to be able to adapt concepts to new requirements.
VMware’s security strategy included a zero-trust approach to application data and endpoints. With this method, diverse factors such as endpoints, users, applications or data are combined and considered as a single unit, security risks can thus already be minimized. The zero-trust strategy continues the path in the network infrastructure, whereby all data, whether located in the company’s own data center or in a private, public or hybrid cloud, is included and thus ensures cyber resilience. Based on an intrinsic security strategy, all resources can be secured.
Security as the key to success – The Hospital Future Act (KHZG).
The federal government offers healthcare providers financial support for digital projects. This happens within the framework of the Hospital Future Act (KHZG). The law stipulates that a portion of the support sum must be earmarked for IT security. In 2021, digital services are to be designed in such a way that they meet the security requirements of patients as well as legal requirements. So now it is in the hands of healthcare providers to implement applications and medical offerings of high quality to cater to end users and patients and provide them with digital services. Deployment should be done with an eye on costs, and an optimal security concept is also crucial for the success of digital applications. Data protection is considered a prerequisite for gaining the trust of patients regarding their private information.
A digital transformation in the health as well as care system is indispensable, but at the same time it will turn out to be an opportunity for society. It is time to boost the health and care system and bring it up to speed digitally. This development requires modern applications, services and experiences that support the process. Society, as the study proves, will embrace the new, digital offerings and demand even more digital solutions after initial implementations. To be able to implement this, healthcare institutions need a digital foundation that is additionally flexible, secure, and consistent, as well as meets patient expectations and ensures high quality of care holistically. The extent to which patients and staff will accept and use digital developments in the healthcare sector will be determined this year with the start of the implementation of electronic patient records and digital prescriptions.
This article was published in German on E-Healt.com on 04.11.2021: