Frank Nydam, Vice President Healthcare Alliance and Solutions at VMware, recently joined Greg Matthews, Founder of Healthquant, for an episode of The Source from the ATA podcast. Their conversation explores the ins and outs of not only VMware’s healthcare strategy but also how VMware healthcare customers have used digital infrastructure to empower hospitals and patients, from the four walls of hospitals to the edge of care.
Over the last six to seven months, Frank has been in a unique position. He has had a front-row seat to inform healthcare providers how they can best utilize technology, including what areas of technology organizations were well prepared for or caught them off-guard. This experience translates into what Frank Nydam has seen in shifting priorities due to the pandemic, with increased investment in cloud, multi-cloud, security, mobility, and app modernization technologies. The crux of this priority shift, however, is security. While the world turns to digital, VMware’s intrinsic security is something Frank Nydam knows all too well. These factors have given VMware a unique role in helping healthcare partners navigate through a global pandemic. According to Nydam, current events have accelerated VMware’s strategic and long-term technology plans, specifically telehealth, which he gives a sneak peek of in this interview. To wrap, Nydam shares his best advice for organizations looking to empower digital acceleration and telehealth initiatives – “Continue to challenge us [VMware], because that is the only way technology is going to join patient care.”
So, join Frank Nydam and Greg Matthews as they discuss this multitude of topics. From telehealth and virtual care to intrinsic security and VMware’s foundational role in the space for upwards of twenty years, you won’t want to miss it. Below, discover some of these critical insights, takeaways, and future hopes from their discussion. Let’s dive in!
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
VMware: Empowering Healthcare Providers & Patients
Greg: I understand that you’ve had sort of a unique opportunity over the last 6 or 7 months to work with your healthcare customers. Could you tell us a little bit about what that experience has been like, how are those customers leveraging the digital infrastructure and technology solutions offered by VMware to empower their patients?
Frank: Our first big transformation in healthcare was, “How do you move this system from paper to digital?” VMware was a big part of ensuring electronic medical records ended up on a platform that was secure and agile. We worked with EMR vendors to figure out how to deliver, manage and operate securely.
In looking at the transformation journey we’ve been on, the last seven months has changed everything we do – whether it’s society, government, or personal friends. This time period has exposed, in many cases that our healthcare systems, app facilities, data research, and patients continue to be relatively siloed. But when you look at that last mile or meter of care delivery, it still requires an extraordinary amount of heavy lifting. You see these yard signs all around the world about healthcare heroes, it was really those heroes that really had to do a lot of that heavy lifting.
In the last seven months I’ve seen this disparity between systems that have been farther down their digital transformation journey versus models have not – it’s truly the haves and the have-nots. A good example, if you look at how caregivers have consumed technology, for the most part it’s been really clinical in nature – stiff, rigid, unaccommodating. With the pandemic, the thinking has changed. “Well, now I have to deliver care in different ways with different apps in different locations.” We’ve seen this with telehealth, but this consumerization of healthcare, whether your patient or caregiver, requires care to be delivered on any device, any application, anywhere.
Intrinsic Security for VMware Healthcare Partners
Greg: In some cases, there are hospitals still using fax machines, paper is still very much a thing but when we think about it realistically, everything has gone digital now, almost exclusively digital, for all practical purposes, in the very near future. How has that impacted the way that your customers think about security in a fully digital world?
Frank: As we move care outside the four walls of the hospital – we call it care at the edge. How do you take great tools, great data and move it out to the edge of the hospital? This could mean a clinic, a parking lot, a patient’s home. It’s almost a triple cyber threat. This rapid expansion of the attack surface as we’re moving these things that were once protected inside the four walls, outside, is a concern and something we’re focusing on. Moreover, hospitals are just doing whatever they can to take care of patients, keep the doors open and be able to bring elective surgery back in. We’ve seen a rise in cyberattacks taking advantage of this right now. One of the areas that VMware has always talked about is intrinsic security, that security shouldn’t be bolted on, it should be baked into everything we do, and every solution that we provide. That’s one of the things that we really need to focus on as an industry, we need to come together and wrap our arms around this. If we’re really going to democratize healthcare and get it at the edge, the patient and the caregiver needs to trust the infrastructure and applications that they’re using. If they don’t trust it, that’s going to hold back better outcomes.
Technology as the Catalyst to Better Patient Care
Greg: We’ve seen a whole different breed of interactions between patients and their healthcare providers happening during the pandemic, I’m curious whether you could share some examples with us about how the technology has actually helped to improve outcomes? What are some stories that you can tell about the role that VMware played in really facilitating that explosion in changes of interaction?
Frank: We have a great story on this with MD Anderson Cancer Center. For many years, VMware has enabled hospitals to deploy any application in what the industry calls Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (we call it VMware Horizon). That allows them to take, whether it be an electronic medical record or an imaging system, remotely anywhere to a thin client or to a mobile device outside or inside the hospital securely. What MD Anderson did was quite remarkable. In order to get radiologists to continue to work and care for patients, they wanted to make sure they could get them out of the hospital and still be productive. We were always able to provide remote imaging solutions inside the hospital. But we tuned it up – we took our SD-WAN technology called VeloCloud and put that in between the hospital and the radiologist. What that does is take bad network connections and provide that radiologist on the other side the ability to view, scroll, or zoom into that image as if they were sitting inside the four walls of the hospital. They could be at their dining room table, at their vacation home, and if a patient comes in with critical condition, they can open up their iPad, dial in, take a quick look, and help. That’s probably been one of the more transformational stories we’ve heard.
What great insights from Frank Nydam, as he shares his hands-on experiences within the telehealth world over the last twenty years and more specifically during the pandemic. You can listen to the full interview which contains even more information and takeaways, here: https://www.americantelemed.org/blog/an-interview-with-frank-nydam-vmware/.