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3 Ways the Pandemic Is Redefining Resilience in Healthcare IT

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Healthcare

3 Ways the Pandemic Is Redefining Resilience in Healthcare IT

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Is it time to throw out your healthcare business continuity plans? If your definition of Healthcare IT (HIT) resilience is rooted in the pre-COVID era, the answer is likely, yes. 

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slightly disrupt HIT—it completely turned HIT on its head. Healthcare IT leaders are at a crossroads: go with the status quo or take advantage of this emerging opportunity to redefine resilience and give their organization a fresh start in information management. 

To carve out the best opportunity for your healthcare organization, it’s critical to understand the forces changing how healthcare defines resilience. Here are the three trends we believe are the most impactful for you today.  

1. Digital Front Doors Are Upping Security Stakes

With more patients interested in telehealth options during the pandemic, healthcare stakeholders across the spectrum started embracing the idea of the “digital front door.” What used to be a buzzword is emerging as a growing opportunity to rethink the patient journey and enable a seamless, hybrid healthcare experience. 

Healthcare’s digital front door is the industry’s effort to reduce friction for the patient and create an experience where care is received in a timely and accessible way. This front door aligns the patient’s healthcare journey and the technology that enables it—including patient portals, electronic medical records, wearables, population health data, and more. And as with any new digital resource, security can be a challenge.

Most organizations have traditionally underspent on cybersecurity—a fact that has only gotten worse during the pandemic. COVID-19 response plans extended the borders of telehealth and telemedicine, which pushed healthcare into new frontiers, and unfortunately attracted even more malactors to the industry. 

Now, a resilient digital strategy means cybersecurity needs to be the core focus. Thankfully, organizations can use newer cloud-based systems to balance security needs with decentralized work and advanced analytics. Healthcare cloud data management options are increasingly flexible, allowing organizations to take a multi-tiered approach to healthcare data management. This method balances the needs and constraints of legacy systems with new capabilities for go-forward data in archiving, backup, recovery, and protection against cyber attacks. 

To protect your healthcare organization, here’s what we recommend:

  • Confirm your cloud footprint is properly configured and continuously monitored

  • Define and document your cyber attack surface, especially in the age of decentralized care models and increased remote work options

  • Focus on all people interacting with your data and systems; they can be your biggest vulnerability

  • Plan for your legacy systems since they will be affected and drive strategic choices around migration, addressing system redundancy, decommissioning, and data archiving, including the ability to restore data quickly—the critical key to your HIT success

2. Preventive and Personalized Medicine’s Impact on Healthcare Storage and Information Governance Is Growing

COVID-19 symptoms and resulting effects have been highly variable—some patients remain asymptomatic while others face long-term disability and even death. To help illuminate patient susceptibility to infection and support treatment navigation of future chronic disease challenges, personalized medicine might be the solution.

But one of the major challenges to personalized medicine is that it relies on massive genetic data storage and sophisticated analytics. At all layers of healthcare, organizations will need to maintain a range of data and information. This means precision medicine’s organizational resilience highly depends on data storage and the ability to swiftly gain insights from archived data. 

For healthcare organizations looking to offer precision medicine, there will be a significant investment demand for infrastructure, data storage, and security to realize its full potential. Cloud solutions allow for the computing, management, and storage of precision medicine data in a secure environment, while maintaining compliance with HIPAA and other regulatory requirements. 

As precision medicine applications expand, more organizations will be tasked with storing and transmitting the gigabytes and even terabytes of data that patients are generating. What this means is that organizational resilience will now require flexible options (like offsite cloud storage and backup and disaster recovery) as a core HIT priority. 

3. Consumerization Is Pushing Healthcare Data Management 

Even though consumerization has topped the healthcare trend list for a few years now, the COVID-19 pandemic has kicked it into overdrive. In May 2020, McKinsey & Company predicted up to $250 billion in US healthcare spend could be shifted to virtual or virtual-enabled care. And as of July 2021, “telehealth utilization has stabilized at levels 38 times higher than before the pandemic.” 

Given the shift in consumer attitudes toward interacting with healthcare providers virtually—a reality that’s well cemented in other industries like retail and finance—the result is a more familiar experience for patients, which in turn deepens data demands for healthcare organizations. 

Consumer-related trends like the proliferation of wearables, increasingly sophisticated patient portals, and higher expectations of the healthcare revenue cycle are an opportunity for the industry as a whole. Organizations that step forward into a healthcare data management strategy with a consumerization focus will see multiple benefits, including better alignment with patient trends, improved security, and increased compliance.

Telemedicine is the driving force in the consumerization wave. Organizations that learn to view patient behavior through a telemedicine and remote care lens are one step ahead in the resilience game. 

With this new way of viewing patient behavior, privacy and security concerns are still top of mind for consumers. So, to ensure both business continuity and data protection remain current, organizations need to take a fresh look at telemedicine privacy and security practices. Likely, this will mean HIT needs to rethink its approach to storage and governance to manage the tens of millions of documents and hundreds of terabytes of data generated by patients using telehealth services (like radiology images, audio/video recordings, streaming data, and EHR data).

3 Ps of Your Resilient HIT Future

For most organizations, virtual healthcare is all about the journey, not the destination. We recommend three critical steps to keep you moving forward:

Plan

The right plan will naturally enable resilience as your organization faces future crises. Take the time to reimagine your current processes to ensure seamless virtual operations whether your team is remote or back to an in-person healthcare setting. This will help you balance cost and risk while you work to achieve organizational healthcare resilience. 

Pivot

Modern healthcare resilience relies on agility. Your organization will need to pivot quickly to adapt to new market demands, patient expectations, and care delivery changes that reverberate through the industry. Make sure you’re using your data to enable the fast, accurate decisions that help elevate the care you offer and solutions you provide. 

Persevere

With all the promise of healthcare’s future, new threats are always emerging, especially in security. It’s imperative that you continually work to keep your healthcare business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) plans ready to protect personal health information and support your business. 

Most importantly, know that you’re not in this alone. The complexity of today’s healthcare landscape requires partners who understand the industry and where it’s headed. To learn more about the storage, data management, and security options we offer organizations like yours, start here

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