Guy, a recognized industry thought leader, is the president of SmartSense, IoT solutions for the enterprise.
As healthcare professionals anticipate improvements in health data interoperability and exchange, technological frameworks for open innovation are changing the way commercial technology is developed and leveraged across enterprises. And while 74% of hospitals harness health data exchange in their EHR systems, the potential to expand interoperability and exchange across the tech stack serves as a key opportunity for CIOs to optimize their systems and improve patient care. As the rate of data exchange increases, technology systems are infused with greater intelligence and corresponding actionability—leading to value creation for enterprises and vendors alike.
Along with improved accessibility and decisioning capabilities comes the need for proper cybersecurity measures that address the increasing number of connections between applications, platforms, vendors and devices. Considerations for access hierarchies, security policies, connectivity protocols and risk management must be made as healthcare executives adopt frameworks that unlock the power of their data.
Defining Technology Priorities To Maximize Patient Satisfaction
For healthcare CIOs, ensuring that the fundamental components of their IT organization can support innovation and transformation is a top priority. The organization’s EHR, ERP, lab system software and radiology solutions must be maintained as a foundation. A common problem for many healthcare organizations is the proliferation of too many applications. Switching applications is burdensome for frontline employees and limitations around integration with the organization’s foundational tech stack causes disintegration that slows down workflows and inhibits potential insights from advanced analysis.
Right now, CIOs are navigating historic staffing issues and must prioritize technology support for facilities, operations and finance based upon efficiency, effectiveness, revenue, margin and patient experience, which is the ultimate KPI of success. Critical compliance considerations—the types of data being collected, where the data goes and how the data is being stored—must be pre-built into software. CIOs need to filter potential partners by their capabilities to support optimization and digital transformation, integrate with core systems, create efficiencies that ease resource constraints and expand upon their existing platforms rather than build new ones. The ability to grow with a client, both in scale and capability, helps vendors transcend into partners that CIOs can trust.
Balancing Usability Amidst Zero Trust Environments
When healthcare organizations increase connectivity across their devices, the rising surface area of attack inherently poses additional cyber risk. However, not all added connectivity must necessarily be run through the enterprise’s network. Some technology partners provide solutions that operate over communication protocols outside hospital networks (e.g., cellular networks). Although these “plug and play” options require little resources from internal IT organizations, some CIOs may show caution at the prospect of adopting shadow IT solutions that are not subject to the security measures and governance of internal SOPs.
To combat the growing cybersecurity threats amidst greater potential exposure, CIOs have turned to zero-trust policies and partners to mitigate risk. Technology providers may approach zero trust in different ways. Cloud providers who offer API interfaces to other vendors will consider their potential “attack surface” to include the vendors using their API and internal employees.
Meanwhile, other providers down the stack may view zero trust less strictly because they’re not exposing anything programmatic. However, the definition from a high level is the same: Zero trust makes sure every single connection is authenticated and authorized because it assumes an attacker will get into the system at some time through the most vulnerable point. As a solution expands with zero trust, more and more authentication granularity will go with it.
One reason some security technologies fail to deliver desired outcomes to their users is the fact that they resist the openness of the web. The open mentality of the web is about creating a standard or format that anyone can open for any client. When solution providers require users to go through a proxy for approval or download a software package to unlock the tool, users resist the imposed friction. The database space is an area where the providers have managed to start cracking the old model. This permission segmentation has evolved from the database level to the table level to now having the capability to log in at the cell level. For technology providers on the unstructured data side, it’s essential to innovate similarly with an SSO that provides visibility at the content level, segmenting permissions within documents and minimizing user friction.
Infusing Intelligence Into Existing Healthcare Systems
With the ubiquity of big data today, the critical consideration is not just protecting who accesses it but also discovering how it can be leveraged for intelligence and proactiveness. If we look at the consumer market, a similar evolution is the societal transition from CCTV to the smart cameras that Ring and Google have available on the market.
To detect an intruder with CCTV, one had to either monitor the camera 24/7 or go back into the recording to find when and how an intrusion took place. That level of security may be acceptable for securing a single building. However, the manual workload involved in detecting and confirming intrusions with CCTV is unsustainable if the number of buildings needing surveillance is 1,000. On the other hand, Ring and Google provide cameras that identify threats and send out alerts so action can be taken to prevent further intrusion or theft. These cameras are smart enough to ignore false positives such as a cat or dog coming onto the property. Equipped with an engine for intelligence, these cameras have become much more valuable and efficient than their predecessors.
That same engine for intelligence is needed to optimize existing healthcare IT systems. Older generations of healthcare technology have been hardware-focused with a value-add around connectivity and data collection. Although those components are essential, the real value lies in the hardware’s connection to a software engine equipped with prescriptive analytics, automated issue escalation, and confirmation of corrective action to optimize the outcomes. CIOs need to infuse more intelligence into their systems for incident correction and asset protection to improve patient care, maximize satisfaction and optimize health outcomes.