Article published on Forbes by Frank Nydam, VP Healthcare Global Industry Group

Healthcare Accelerates Transition to Telemedicine While Battling Unprecedented Cyberattacks

For over a decade, healthcare has been undergoing enormous change. The first wave of transformation—from paper to digital—was an evolution with mandated progress advancing slowly. In contrast, COVID-19 has been a sudden revolution. The global pandemic accelerated strategies to weeks and days that previously would have taken months or years to execute. Because of this, the industry is the very edge of real-time connected healthcare and modern technologies are driving new possibilities.

“Digital transformation has allowed us to provide virtual interactions with admitted patients, reducing exposure to our providers and saving PPE [personal protective equipment],” says Brian Lancaster, vice president of information technology for Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha. 

The vision of “anywhere, anytime” healthcare requires connecting all the data silos built up over the years—silos that made it difficult for health data to be more easily shared with researchers and other hospitals and physicians, and for clinical systems to connect to supply chains. It’s enabling healthcare organizations to acquire, integrate, analyze and transform data into action at a moment’s notice. 

Three Attributes of Real-time Connected Healthcare Organizations

Today, three key attributes define the move to and achievement of secure, real-time connected healthcare: agility, safety, and trust. And together, these attributes drive long-term, sustainable outcomes. 

Agility: Quickly Enable new care locations, models and growth

By necessity, healthcare organizations are quickly rolling out new telehealth services to proactively support safe patient interactions as well as care sites at the edge. For American Hospital Dubai that meant overcoming infrastructure security, reliability and performance obstacles as it transformed a hotel into a hospital in under 72 hours to handle COVID-19 patients.  

With increased focus on agility, healthcare IT teams worldwide are moving to architectures that are software-based instead of hardware and extending as much data as possible to the cloud with software as a service (SaaS). They are also rapidly standardizing and automating data centers to reap efficiencies and budget for innovation while embracing hybrid cloud. On the application side, organizations are rationalizing application portfolios, incrementally updating existing apps while speeding new app and service development, to better align to cloud-based healthcare services. According to a new Forrester survey, 92% of healthcare leaders say modernizing their app portfolios is now a top business priority because it will enhance patient experience and enable growth. 

Safety: Give patients access to virtual services and care at the edge, and empower remote care teams, as needed 

Real-time connected healthcare systems can swiftly shift from in-person to virtual care to ensure clinician and patient safety, while delivering the same experience digitally that was traditionally only available within the four walls of the healthcare system. And not only does it improve patient experiences, but it can do it more equitably across consumer populations by increasing patient access. 

For example, when COVID-19 forced University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centerradiologists and other physicians to work from home, the provider decided to expand software-based wide area networking (SD-WAN) capabilities into homes to ensure clinicians continued to have the same experience as if they were in the office. Very quickly, it deployed an initial 500 units to radiologists for use at home, then soon after, sent another 500 to additional work-from-home care workers.  

By ensuring all networks and devices are securely and reliably performing at scale, teams can deliver highly personalized services to the edge. At the same time, clinicians everywhere can enjoy a way to securely sign in once to all of the patient information they need, when they need it, saving time that in turn is reinvested in patient care. 

Trust: Protect healthcare data and patient trust

One of the most worrisome trends for healthcare leaders is ransomware. A study by Carbon Black found a 148% spike in ransomware attacks early in the pandemic. And threats continue to rise in number and severity. Being able to use any device on any network at any time is an imperative, but keeping all data secure is proving difficult. 

That’s why many healthcare organizations are strengthening their security postures with zero-trust, least-privilege policies and controls across on premises data centers, in clouds, and at endpoints. They are building in security rather than bolting it on to infrastructure and apps—embracing a new security model that is policy-driven and automated for increased protection wherever workloads run. This is a fundamentally different concept because intrinsic security leverages infrastructure and control points in new ways across any app, any cloud and any device.

Achieving secure real-time connected healthcare is possible today

Three real-time connected healthcare attributes—agility, safety, and trust—powered a robust, flexible digital foundation with security built in enable healthcare organizations to proactively respond to crises, adapt to change, and innovate for tomorrow.

VMware on Healthcare
Frank Nydam

Frank Nydam is the Vice President of Global Healthcare Alliances and prior to that was Chief Technology Officer for Healthcare and Strategy at VMware. Frank joined VMware in 2002 and has been focused solely on the application of virtualization technologies in the Life Sciences and Healthcare Provider industry. He created VMware’s Healthcare program in 2007. In his role, Frank collaborates with and across a broad range of Healthcare ecosystem partners including hospitals, EMR, imaging and clinical application developers, and industry groups to help develop safer more efficient Healthcare solutions. Frank served as a Board member of CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) from 2015 – 2018. Frank holds a B.S. in Aerospace Mgt. from Kent State University, executive certificate(s) from Stanford University Graduate School for Design Thinking and Customer Focused Innovation as well as executive MBA’s in Finance from Rutgers.

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.