VP, Healthcare

Healthcare is one of the hottest industries for transformative technology! With HIMSS 20 right around the corner, thousands of healthcare professionals, clinicians and executives will turn out in search of innovation, emerging technology, insights, best practices and new applications for better health, patient engagement, patient care and security.

Using a little bit of hindsight and a lot of hands-on customer experience to form our opinion– we’re giving you a sneak peek at what we think are the Top 5 Technologies to watch this year.

5G

5G is spreading fast! Faster speeds, widespread connectivity and near-real-time networks will be a turning point for the Healthcare industry. On-demand connections between people and information, and from machine to machine, will bring us into a future where real-time exchange of data and the Internet of Things (IoT) will enable and automate complex applications. Given the degree to which healthcare is adopting IoT capabilities such as wearable, trackable devices and sensor-driven medical devices, large data in near real time will be used to improve patient care and boost efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to be applied to everything from patient-facing applications to imaging and diagnostics. AI will improve the healthcare experience by introducing new, intelligent ways to use data, building pathways to actionable insight from both automation and human touch. Healthcare in the future simply will not advance without harnessing and deploying the amazing power of AI. Having said all that, wider adoption of AI and machine learning applications have introduced new challenges to healthcare organizations as they weigh the extent to which they should be deployed.

Cybersecurity

As organizations expand system access to third-party vendors, patients, auditors and others, cybersecurity will remain a major priority. As hospitals offer more to their patients by making investments in things such as online medical records, and wearable, trackable diagnostic devices, the number of areas that require security is rapidly increasing. Unfortunately, so are the number of threats.

Healthcare organizations continue to be the focal point of ransomware attacks, and threats are no longer introduced only from points outside the system.  The security of medical devices has worsened as remote access for employees of healthcare systems has increased, (including through mobile devices), putting patient and other data at a greater risk.

The increasing adoption of wearable devices such as fitness trackers introduce enhanced security risks since data is transmitted over unsecured networks and often attached to public Wi-Fi access points throughout healthcare facilities. This creates pathways to internal networks and sensitive data which becomes a repository for malware.  In the past, cybersecurity was used to protect the perimeter of a system with firewalls, however, the increasing sophistication of cybercrime has led the industry to focus more on threat detection from the inside too – and appropriately securing every point where a user can enter a system will be a priority.

Consumerism/Digital Transformation

A digital platform can be a key differentiator to a hospital, especially when there is so much competition. Customers today expect convenience, and many healthcare organizations have turned to digital transformation to increase patient engagement and enhance the patient experience. Engaging patients in their own healthcare is a strategic initiative for healthcare executives. From finding a destination within a hospital or paying their bill to scheduling appointments or engaging in a video telehealth visit, digital infrastructures will continue to enable many of the things that are enhancing the patient experience.

IoT

We interact with connected devices in many forms, from vending machines that accept credit cards or fitness trackers to smart lights and thermostats in our homes. Connected devices have become such an integral part of our daily existence that we often don’t recognize the sheer number of integration points until a device fails.

In healthcare environments, the IoT devices take on special duties, transferring physiological information from connected medical devices such as EKG machines, IV pumps and other radiological devices like portable X-Ray machines.

While the usefulness of IoT devices in healthcare is undeniable, the risk to information security is often a secondary consideration. Since connectivity is being included in an ever-increasing number of devices and systems, new questions and stakeholders will need to be added to the evaluation process up front. By taking a risk-based approach to IoT, organizations can improve integration of any smart device into their environments in a secure manner.

Summary

Our 20/20 vision is that security will still lead the pack as the number one concern for healthcare CIOs. And that digital transformation will happen at an increasing pace, as will 5G, in order to enable the healthcare technologies and patient outcomes of the future.

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