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It’s impossible to miss how access to our medical data is now being interwoven into our everyday activities. Just one trip to an Apple store and you can’t help but see the proliferation.

There you’ll find blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters that will connect to your phones. Apple watches and other wearable devices, of course will also not only track your movements, but even 02 saturation levels. And if you’ve been to an ER, OR, doctor’s office, medical clinic, or even a U.S. pharmacy lately, you’ll almost have certainly seen IoT banded sensors monitoring heartbeats, rugged mobile devices scanning patient ID bands for medicine dose verification, and the recording of patient symptoms in electronic medical records (EMRs) that move with nurses from room-to-room with the tap of a badge.

Innovation is happening across the care continuum.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported recently about finding “signs that the U.S. health system is improving in its ability to promote health and provide high-quality care, with some recent improvement in the accessibility of that care and a slowing of spending growth.”

Not on par with other similar countries yet, but significant progress nonetheless. Much of which has been catalyzed by rapidly advancing technologies and forward-thinking healthcare IT (HIT) leaders. And it’s their thinking—not as outwardly obvious as the activity tracker on your wrist or the Bluetooth scale in your bathroom—that is changing the business of healthcare. That’s what we saw at VMworld 2018.

My Memorable Moments

Amid still unprecedented merger and acquisition activity across the sector, healthcare providers are having to make hard decisions. Expand or consolidate? Become agile or maintain the status quo? The mindset, most VMworld attendees reflected, has been steady forward progress. Not anymore. To thrive, HIT organizations are pushing their teams to accelerate their transformations from IT maintenance to innovation.

 

Driving new business models

HIT teams are becoming partners in the business of healthcare. As a center of excellence, IT staff are now empowering clinicians and patients and advancing value-based care objectives while expanding revenue opportunities.

Texas Health Resources, for example, described partnering and securely sharing its electronic medical records (EMR) solution with other providers. Its offering is powered by VMware foundational technologies such as Identity Manager. At the same time, Mercy has launched a healthcare cloud, becoming a service provider to other hospital networks throughout the United States. Maximizing investments, optimizing for the future

 

HIT leaders recognize it’s hard to move forward with costly disconnected technologies and legacy systems. Parkland Health, a VMware Software-Defined Data Center customer, shared its journey of replacing Citrix with VMware Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to streamline operations and lower costs.

 

The provider knew to improve its HIT delivery, it would have to consolidate and embrace the vendor technologies that would best meet its needs today and into the future. Streamlined Horizon management made it easy for the Citrix admin to transition to the VMware platform, and it’s now possible for that individual to take on more, higher-value work benefitting the business. Concurrently, Sydney Adventist Hospital is continuing its eight-year VDI journey with VMware, now adopting VMware vSAN to drive the cost of a virtual desktop below that of a physical desktop.

 

Embracing cloud

 

The healthcare hybrid cloud is real. With new compliance certifications including a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, healthcare providers are moving toward VMware Cloud on AWS to both address compliance requirements and improve patient experiences.

 

VMware Cloud on AWS is a soft landing for the healthcare hybrid cloud because it’s from VMware and AWS—a true merger of capabilities from the largest private and largest public cloud providers. IDC recently wrote an InfoBrief on Healthcare IT Modernization and the Adoption of Hybrid Cloud, advocating for the advancement of hybrid cloud that HIT providers were eager to discuss.

 

Advancing possibilities

 

Adoption of new technologies in support of greater clinician productivity continues to advance across large and small healthcare organizations. Imprivata and VMware exhibited new innovation for authorization on mobile devices. In a model remarkably reminiscent of clinical desktops, many healthcare organizations are deploying mobile devices that are easy to carry and can better facilitate certain clinical workflows such as meds admin or phlebotomy.

 

Like a desktop, these devices need to be managed and secured and VMware Workspace ONE is providing this functionality. But the clinical applications also need to be simple to access. Multiple logins to mobile apps just get in the way of patient care and are frustrating to the provider (sound familiar??). Imprivata Mobile Device Access brings the same badge tap workflow to Android mobile devices as clinicians are used to on the desktop, keeping focus on patients, not technology.

 

And as healthcare increasingly moves outside of hospital walls, it shouldn’t be surprising that doctors are calling on patients at home again. Saber Healthcare, for example, is using SD-WAN to reduce in-person admissions and manage care for 10,000+ residents.

 

Protecting data, reputation, and brand

 

A full 90% of hospitals have been hit by breaches, one speaker noted, requiring HIT teams to pivot “from the protection of patient data to the availability of patient data.” VMware and partner solutions are thwarting cybercriminals seeking to steal healthcare data by fighting back with innovative, proactive protections.

 

For example, VMware AppDefense minimizes attack surfaces at a high level while Carbon Blacks’ Cb Defense for VMware shuts down granular attack vectors. To better protect IoT endpoints in healthcare, Zingbox introduced a new solution that discovers devices on the network, and gives each a vulnerability score. With more granular information, IoT and medical devices integrated with NSX through Zingbox technology can truly enable real-time healthcare.

 

Beyond the Technology

 

Our Healthcare Industry Workshop keynote presenter, Michael Robinson, Vice President of North America Healthcare Sales, summed up nicely what we heard and saw all week when he described the changes in today’s healthcare businesses as more than just technology. People and process have to transform, too. Yet without a strong technology foundation, it’s difficult to move forward and adopt new innovative solutions such as integrating cloud, monitoring patients remotely, connected healthcare, IoT, AI, and data analytics for predictive medicine.

 

Healthcare’s acceleration from IT maintenance to innovation is both exciting for the industry and all of us with the potential to soon be among the innovators’ patients. What moments did you find most memorable at VMworld 2018? Join the conversation at @vmwareHIT.