Securing Patients’ Data

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CxOs must balance innovation with the ability to protect against cyber-attacks and data breaches.

 

Remember all that time wasted sitting (for what seemed like eternity) in a doctor’s waiting room? And remember when someone finally came through that door and politely called your name and ushered you to an examining room, only to have your doctor greet you with a clipboard full of hand written notes about your health and well being?

That experience wasn’t enjoyable for you as the patient, and it certainly didn’t provide a sense of security around all your personal health records.

Today, when it comes to doctor’s visits and care, the concept of connected healthcare, is advancing the industry in ways where that scenario is becoming a thing of the past.

From a sensor-equipped bra that detects breast cancer to streamlining care and improving network connection at a family of retirement communities, the Internet of Everything (IoE) has turned the healthcare ideas of yesterday into the healthcare realities of today.

As healthcare becomes more consumer-focused and personalized, all aspects of health services, from billing to patient care, are primed for transformation.

And in an era where many healthcare services are going online, healthcare CXOs must balance innovation with the ability to protect against cyber-attacks and data breaches. Healthcare providers cannot jeopardize the security of patient data and records. Experts have already warned that 2015 could be the “Year of the Healthcare Hack.”

One organization, VITAS Innovative Healthcare, has successfully utilized IoE to deliver patient care while reducing network threats.

The VITAS healthcare team is part of the hospice community and their patients are in need of end-of-life care. This means that about 80% of their professionals work out of patient homes or residential care facilities.

Flexibility and being able to quickly access patient information was essential to the company’s growth and development. For VITAS, this meant investing in mobile technology that would better connect patients and caregivers—securely.

“Our goal is ground-breaking work in healthcare. But first, we need a solid network foundation to build upon,” says Patrick Hale, Senior Vice President and CIO, VITAS.

VITAS has reduced the security risks to their network. The healthcare industry has always been a favored target for malware and cyber attacks, as patient records are not the only personal information that cybercriminals can use to wreak havoc and invade personal privacy.

Medication types, credit card information and social security numbers are just some of the sensitive data stored on healthcare networks, so special attention was paid to shore up the network and reduce the potential of attacks.

“With eye-opening malware detection and powerful geo-blocking, we’re in a strong position to protect patient data,” says VITAS’ Chief Information Security Officer Scott Ellis. “We’ve improved intrusion and malware protection and reduced service incidents by 95 percent.”

VITAS equipped their staff with thousands of mobile devices, which allows for faster coordination of care logistics, immediate access for selecting and generating specific consent forms based on patient needs and sync methods that transfer critical data within milliseconds. 

“Mobile technology allows us to communicate information and route caregivers quickly and efficiently,” says Hale.   

The investment in their infrastructure has already driven monumental change for VITAS.

“We’ve reduced the time caregivers need to spend coordinating the logistics of next stages of care by an average of 29%,” says Debra Van Note, a nurse at VITAS. “This leaves more time for crucial interactions where every second counts.”

The results of VITAS’ investment have not only created an atmosphere of patient-centric healthcare, but also within the halls of VITAS’ call center. By measuring interactions and effectively analyzing the data received back from the field, VITAS has improved staff communication on 60,000 calls each quarter and reduced mobile app deployment time from months to just a single week. 

According to Hale, with the Internet of Everything, VITAS can apply best practices to healthcare and connect their people and data more intelligently than ever.

Enabling healthcare teams to provide the utmost in patient care goes far beyond the bedside manner from doctors and nurses. It means secure patient interactions, and hopefully much less time waiting in the dreaded waiting room.

More Information: Cisco Healthcare solutions keeps caregivers connected and helps deliver better care for patients with the Internet of Everything.