Four key themes continue to resonate with healthcare provider CIOs in almost every meeting that I’ve had this year:
Empowered Clinicians – Right information, right device, right time
Engaged Patients – Enable patients to manage their own care
Support a Community – Scale to support a community not just a hospital
Secure Patient Information, Persistent Availability – Intrinsic security, stability, performance, and agility
Yet, as much as CIOs want to focus on these key areas, many cannot because they don’t have the right technical foundation in place to enable these complex, highly-integrated initiatives.
The last several years have seen most provider organizations implement systems and technology at a break-neck pace to support a wide range of initiatives. This includes internal projects, expansion and service line development, Federal initiatives, Meaningful Use and on-again, off-again, on-again ICD-10. They’ve seen their organizations stretched, and operational costs swell, while systems complexity has increased exponentially. The healthcare organizations we work with are focusing on driving value out more mature EHR deployments through analytics, and driving down the operational costs that have crept up as many legacy systems and processes haven’t been able to be retired at a pace commensurate to implementations Meanwhile, healthcare security risks are increasing at a disproportionate rate compared to other industries nationwide. To make matters worse, many provider organizations do not have a solid infrastructure to rely upon as they begin these initiatives.
The transition to software-defined infrastructure through the widespread use of virtualization technology from the data center to the desktop is well underway, and will continue to accelerate in the coming year to enable provider organizations manage spiraling infrastructure expenses as well as increasing healthcare security concerns. Most notable, healthcare IT will increasingly leverage a software defined data center architecture, with network virtualization as its foundation, to deploy clinical systems as services that are continuously available, highly secure and rapidly scale as business dictates.
Most organizations have a single core EHR, but they also have multiple other clinical applications which are required to manage ancillary functions or specialties. These applications have to work together, but by their very nature, increase IT complexity and create security vulnerabilities. By creating a software-defined foundation by virtualizing the network, healthcare IT can deploy security that is native to the infrastructure and can facilitate highly secure, micro-segmented East-West server-to-server communications between every clinical system. Network virtualization and the software-defined data center enables provider IT teams to deploy a Zero Trust network architecture, only allowing explicitly permitted communication between disparate systems. This enables an unparalleled level of secure clinical computing.
VMware sees the opportunity to break down the silos within healthcare IT and change how infrastructure is managed enabling, organizations to focus on patients, not IT. Software-defining IT enables clinical applications to be deployed as a service where security, monitoring and management are fundamental to their delivery, not bolted-on afterwards. This reduces the need to focus on managing physical devices and physical security. Instead, IT can focus on clinician performance employing tools to actively manage overall system performance, as well as that of a single user, with the same toolset. After all, the point of healthcare information technology is to enable the clinician to care for the patient in the most efficient, effective way possible – even to the point of keeping them out of a traditional care setting – not technology.