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Healthcare IT – Evolution or Revolution?

Recent headlines across Europe have described healthcare IT as ‘archaic’, ‘slow’, and ‘not streamlined’. But as technology continues its rapid rush forward in the private sector, healthcare organisations need to ensure their technology infrastructure is evolving, rather than stagnating. The benefits of technology are well-documented, bringing increases to efficiency and overall patient care, while similarly the ramifications of an out-dated architecture can detrimentally impact these areas, as well as expose organisations to crippling cyber-attacks.

Priority no.1 – data security
While most healthcare organisations today do have a mobility strategy in place, such policies need to be constantly reviewed and updated to meet the latest demands. Remote working and the ever-multiplying swathes of data which are so integral to operations today create increasing opportunity for cyber-criminals to strike. The average annual cost of such attacks on healthcare organisations is $12.87 million (£9.26 million) – the fifth most expensive of all industries, given the immense value attached to sensitive patient data.

The more data available to mine, and the more entry points there are providing access to the network, the bigger the risk. Proof of this within an increasingly data-centric healthcare sector is the 211 per cent increase in disclosed security incidents in 2017 when compared with the previous year, according to McAfee.

Best of both worlds
Healthcare organisations naturally have a responsibility to prioritise the protection and privacy of patient data, but the right IT strategy can enable them to create a ‘best of both worlds’ environment – balancing security with mobile productivity, without compromising on either. Clientless solutions like Toshiba Mobile Zero Client can ensure the safety of mobile devices, ensuring that surgeries, hospitals and other medical facilities can embrace a strategy of delivering better care to patients outside of traditional environments, without needing to worry about hardware security.

Wearables and the edge
Looking towards the revolution end of the scale, the impending arrival of 5G is set to instigate a further boom in the ongoing data rush – which healthcare must be ready to take advantage of. In order to relieve the strain this data will place on cloud services, a growing number of organisations are integrating an edge-focused element to their mobility infrastructure. Such an approach can enable health practitioners to provide an enhanced quality of service by processing data at the edge of the network when working remotely. This not only reduces the likelihood of data overload, but also enables staff to meet compliance regulations, for example by recording consultation notes in a timely manner.

With such technologies also paving the way to the wider adoption of wearables into healthcare – Accenture claims that, by 2020, 91 per cent of healthcare solutions providers will include wearables in their IoT offerings to clients – the impact of technology on improving the mobility, security and capabilities of healthcare workers is reaching unprecedented territory. Whether they take an evolutionary or revolutionary approach is a decision for individual organisations, but the scope is certainly there for them to instigate the changes which will meet the needs of both their staff and their patients.

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