3 Key Takeaways from HIMSS 2017

HIMSS 2017

Patient Engagement, Internet of Things & Cybersecurity Among Key Topics in Healthcare

This year Cradlepoint was proud to attend the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando as a Gold Sponsor and first-time exhibitor. With more than 40,000 IT professionals in attendance, the conference offers abundant learning and development opportunities, including education programs, keynotes, roundtables, thought-leader sessions, and networking events.

One underlying key theme that emerged at the conference was an overwhelming sense of urgency around mobility, security, and constant connectivity. The people, processes, and foundations provided by IT and other technology organizations are quickly becoming the backbone for a healthcare system’s success. IT administrators need to not only understand but also successfully manage the explosion of additional devices, a growth in applications, and an increase in digitization — all of which, when combined, are creating a digital transformation in the industry. Healthcare providers and organizations that can coordinate these pieces and streamline the management, deployment, monitoring, and security of their networks will undoubtedly gain a significant advantage in this highly competitive market.

At the root of all this change lies the need for flexible, secure, and reliable networks. We noticed three key areas that seemed to be on attendees’ minds as they relate to emerging trends and how critical a healthcare organization’s network is to success.

Patient Engagement

As electronic health records (EHRs) become the foundation for providing high-quality, coordinated patient care, the need for constant access to these records becomes essential. When a network goes down, more than just access to EHRs goes down; the ability to provide patient services also comes to an abrupt stop. Providers are unable to dispense medications, coordinate triage, process payments, conduct virtual appointments, and even use medical devices. At best, network downtime creates an inconvenience; at worst, it creates a situation where lives are at stake.

Providers are therefore understandably interested in figuring out how they can ensure network connectivity. Gartner recently reported that “The undisputed #1 cause of network outages is human error.” Emerging technology solutions can allow your company to essentially remove the human-error component of the equation. It is critical that your healthcare organization has the automatic mechanisms in place — which can range from network orchestration and automation to failover solutions and Out-of-Band Management (OOBM) applications — to ensure network reliability. Enabling healthcare professionals to access what they need when they need it is vital.

Internet of Things & Mobility

The Internet of Things (IoT) was also top of mind at the HIMSS conference — and with good reason. The IoT’s impact on modern healthcare, patient outcomes, and the ways in which patients are being treated is rapidly expanding. The healthcare industry offers some of the most life-altering and life-saving IoT solutions, which can range from RFID tags and monitoring pumps to sensors all the way to remote patient monitoring robotics. In order for the IoT and the health care providers who use them to operate properly, reliably, and efficiently, networks must be able to balance security and agility. Doing so becomes increasingly onerous as IoT’s role in healthcare continues to grow.

Healthcare is also becoming much more mobile, with providers traveling directly to patients, healthcare organizations offering mobile clinics, and even specialists becoming accessible via telehealth services. Yet as the IoT expands to allow for more effective and accessible patient care, IT administrators need to ensure their systems can maintain reliability, connectivity, and security.

Read more about how to expand your network to mobile healthcare providers.

Cybersecurity

Security is directly connected to the IoT as well as to patient engagement. With mobile healthcare, networks need to be extended outside of the hospital, clinic, or physician’s office, which is where security can be particularly tricky. Protecting financial and patient data, complying with HIPAA, and securely processing credit card payments all require the highest degree of security protection. And in contrast to other industries, poor security measures can lead to compromised patient safety and even life-threatening situations. A hacker who can access an unsecured or undersecured network can just as easily alter a medical pump that administers medication to a patient, or create a denial-of-service (DoS) attack that affects critical care systems.

The sharing of knowledge and best practices at HIMSS this year allowed us to speak with colleagues at the conference about Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Engine as a solution for securing networks and devices from a central location. The NetCloud platform as a whole — which includes IPS/IDS and Zscaler Internet Security applications — coupled with software-defined, cloud-delivered networks and a cloud management platform — can help a healthcare organization ensure HIPAA compliance and secure the Internet of (Healthcare) Things (IoHT), especially when joined with on-router security measures such as a traditional stateful firewall and microsegmentation that can be applied from the cloud.

Simplify Network Management & Security

With more than 800 healthcare customers, including five of the top 10 healthcare companies (according to Fortune 500 rankings) and one-third of the top pharmaceutical companies, Cradlepoint is providing cutting-edge products and services that help IT administrators simplify network management, monitoring, and security. To learn more about how Cradlepoint can make your network more reliable, simple, agile, and secure, read about our healthcare-related solutions.