Micro-segmentation enables one of Ireland’s largest hospitals to secure patient data while driving digital transformation

Posted on 17/03/2020

Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) was one of the largest investments in healthcare ever undertaken by the Irish Government when it was built over 20 years ago. Through its engagement with VMware, TUH has strengthened its security, protecting patient data and corporate reputation.

By equipping objects with sensors to monitor their environment and an internet connection to communicate, IoT will give organizations greater ability to gather data and report back in real-time.

Solutions providers in every industry will be looking at how to apply IoT; none more so than the healthcare sector.

IoT promises to transform outcomes for patients, improve the effectiveness of clinicians, and maximize resources for those controlling healthcare budgets. Long term, medical breakthroughs may be unlocked from the wealth of data generated.

This is not just futuristic mumbo-jumbo. Innovation is happening now, from connected inhalers to smart cuffs to insulin delivery.

Those are the theoretical benefits. There are potential risks.

Cybersecurity is a huge issue in the healthcare sector. Healthcare organizations are plagued by data theft and ransomware. IoT means more connected devices, and more connected devices means a greater vulnerability to attack.

The largest, most secure hospital in Ireland

TUH was one of the largest capital investments in healthcare ever undertaken by the Irish Government when it opened in 1998.

As healthcare becomes increasingly digital, with patient pathways involving multiple partners, TUH’s ICT department wanted to ensure the hospital was the most secure in Ireland.

“Security is very important to us,” says David Wall, Director of ICT at TUH. “We deal with a great deal of highly personal and organizational information. We take the role of guardian of that information extremely seriously.”

TUH was the combination of a number of hospitals in the Dublin area moving to one location. In creating this large teaching hospital, management has always been keen to foster its long history of innovation throughout the organization. The digital transformation the hospital is undertaking has, at its core, a focus on keeping data secure, separating different network users where necessary, while encouraging greater network connectivity.

TUH has deployed VMware NSX® Data Center to operationalize the micro-segmentation of its servers so, in the event of a cyber-attack, it would prevent its infrastructure from being compromised and protect workloads. NSX Data Center delivers granular protection for applications via micro-segmentation down to the individual workload. It creates context-aware security policies per workload to defend against lateral threats within TUH’s environment.

In addition, TUH uses VMware vRealize®Operations™ for managing and monitoring; VMware vSphere® for virtualizing servers; VMware vRealize® Log Insight™ logs the entire environment. Local VMware partner PFH Technology Group played a significant role in the design, implementation and delivery of the solution.

Proactive healthcare

The VMware engagement strengthens TUH’s security posture, protecting patient data across its campus. VMware NSX Data Center micro-segmentation isolates applications so that if an application does become infected, it won’t infect others.

Moreover, the VMware platform solution creates a stable platform on which to add new digital services and simplifies integration with possible third parties. The TUH vision for Digitally Enabled Care will involve greater integration between systems and NSX enables TUH to carefully manage this this integration. In recent years TUH has pioneered online bookings, self-service appointment check-in, and digital links between GPs and hospital specialists.

“The future’s very exciting,” says David Wall. “The hospital is focused on delivering a ‘Hospital without Walls’ and integrating patient care into the community. We will rely heavily on technology to change how we deliver our health services in a more efficient and effective manner across our growing campus and into the community. The use of technology is vital to empower us to deliver and at the same time improve the delivery of services.”

The health sector is expected to transform over the coming years as the number of connected devices and wearables increase. The goal for healthcare organizations is to harness this data to adopt a more proactive position. The focus will be on maintaining good health, not simply treating poor health.


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