10 Must-Ask Questions for Hospitals Adopting the Internet of Things

Internet of Things and Healthcare

Hospitals are increasingly adopting Internet-connected devices, in hopes of tapping into their impressive benefits.

Imagine “smart beds” that can automatically detect if they’re occupied (or the patient is up and out of bed), or can measure the quality of the patient’s sleep. Imagine wearables and implantables measuring a patient’s vital statistics, and reporting that data back to the nursing staff in real-time.

Networked devices are already prevalent in hospitals today — a growing number of nurses and doctors are using WiFi-enabled communication devices and tablet computers instead of clipboards and sheets of paper. The goal is to use technology to provide better healthcare.

In the push to adopt Internet-connected devices (and enable the Internet of Things), many hospitals are opening themselves up to risk. Left unsecured, networked devices represent a point of exposure into the network. Unlike other industries—say, banking—healthcare has less experience dealing with hackersThat’s a problem when medical records are at stake.

Here are the 10 key questions hospitals should consider before adopting Internet-connected devices:

#10: Have you segmented your network into secure zones? In planning those segments, have you considered, “If an attack came through this segment of the network, could we quickly recover or compensate for the damage?”

#9: Have you secured your medical device connection points? Hospitals must ensure that hackers can’t simply unplug a device from an Ethernet port, plug their laptop in and gain access to the network. Static network endpoints are inherently less secure than dynamic networks. Recently, security researchers warned hospitals about a patient-controlled analgesia device that allowed unsecured access to hospital networks.

#8: How secure is your third-party network access? Hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, guests, patients, contractors, vendors and auditors should get varying levels of access to the network. Segment and control their access centrally.

#7: Are your devices HIPAA-compliant? Implement and enforce policies for HIPAA, including securing information crossing handheld devices.

#6: Is your texting secure? For many doctors and nurses, text messaging is a quick and easy way to communicate on the go. Implement a secure texting solution to eliminate the possibility of accidentally sharing private information publically.

#5: Are your staff security-aware? Train everyone on the importance of physically securing their laptops and other devices.

#4: Where are you managing your devices? As much as possible, centrally manage Internet-connected devices. Besides inventory control, devices that are managed centrally will have the highest degree of security because they can be monitored and managed efficiently.

#3: Where are your wearables? Establish electronic checkpoints for all wearable devices. Greater usage will follow, as devices can be efficiently tracked, managed and shut down remotely.

#2: Are log-ins secure? Establish a centralized log-in procedure for network-connected medical devices.

#1: How often are you auditing your security? Systematic third-party security audits will help you identify and close potential security vulnerabilities. Ensure that the auditing firm does not also sell solutions, thereby eliminating a conflict of interest.

Avaya offers a range of solutions designed to help hospitals build secure networks, and efficiently managed the network-connected devices they’ve deployed. Click here for more information.

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11 Ways Avaya Technology can Improve Veterans’ Healthcare

Studies continue to show that veterans’ healthcare needs are increasingly complex. The total number of veterans relying on Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health care has substantially increased—even as the veteran population has been declining since 1980.

Many problems impacting veterans are similar to the general population’s challenges. Communication solutions are a key to solving many problems, according to “To Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds: Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization.” Staffs believe mobility and technology can help deliver better care. Recent surveys show:

  • 56% of physicians believe mobility could help expedite decision making
  • 39% say mobility would reduce time for administrative tasks
  • 36% believe it would increase collaboration among physicians
  • 26% reported it would increase time spent with patients
  • 40% of those surveyed said they could eliminate 11%-30% of office visits through mobile health technologies such as remote monitoring, email or text messaging

Given the right communications tools and mobile devices, government healthcare providers, are convinced that care would be improved. It’s no wonder. Approximately 80% of physicians use smartphones in hospital. But security is just as important as quality care and the patient experience. Consider these startling facts:

  • 100 million people were directly impacted by data breaches in 2015
  • 90% of healthcare organizations have had at least one data breach in the past two years
  • 5% of reported hacks in 2014 were in healthcare
  • Healthcare records are ten times more valuable than financial records on the black market

Communication technologies can securely enable higher quality care, reduce costs, and improve satisfaction for patients and employees alike, on- and off-site at Federal Government facilities managed by the VA and the Department of Defense. To ensure it can keep up with demand, the VA has expanded three key telehealth initiatives:

  • Clinical Video Telehealth platform—enables clinicians to use real-time interactive video conferencing to remotely assess, treat, and provide care to veterans
  • Home Telehealth platform—provides in-home care for patients with chronic conditions via mobile monitoring, messaging, and video technologies
  • Store and Forward Telehealth—streamlines communication, collaboration, and record-keeping among multiple facilities by allowing medical staff to share clinical information (e.g., x-rays, ultrasounds, or other test data) with a nationwide network of providers and specialists.

Enabling the VA to improve the patient “anywhere” experience requires technology that can support patient demands—from public and private clinics and hospitals to home-based care options. Battle-tested and proven automated Avaya solutions can:

  1. Improve the patient experience through a range of administrative tasks. Streamline the admissions process, facilitate faster patient discharge, remind patients of daily dosages, and make, track and remind patients of appointments from the hospital electronic health records.
  2. Maximize time that doctors and nurses spend with patients. Use mobile clinical collaboration solutions that keep providers, patients, and caregivers securely connected—anywhere, anytime, via smartphones and tablets. Action requests and alerts are handled quickly and seamlessly—patients receive the right care at the right time.
  3. Deliver quality experiences wherever patients are located—at home, in the field, on the road, or in a hospital—with the same quality of care. Mobile applications for intelligent wearable devices provide broader access to care and proactive patient monitoring.
  4. Enhance monitoring of patients through automated solutions. Use reminders and mobile applications to alert patients and care providers about scheduled therapy and medicine dosages.
  5. Beyond the hospital, keep patients connected to treatment and care providers by taking advantage of flexible, easy-to-use, mobile video and multimedia solutions. Crowded facilities employ mainstream technology to service non-critical cases on an outpatient basis, and remote facilities and wearable monitoring devices support consistent quality care.
  6. Ensure favorable outcomes with efficient patient admission and discharge processes, room preparation, post-op follow up, prescription management, test scheduling, and other workflows.
  7. Optimize productivity by communications-enabling hospital electronic health records with increased automation to reduce errors and facilitate collaboration.
  8. Support health information security with an Avaya flexible network that automatically segments traffic into distinct zones for guest Wi-Fi access, medical devices reporting, and patient records.
  9. Secure networks that have thousands of medical devices and public Wi-Fi. Avaya has an innovative capability for device isolation. Our Open Network Adapter securely locks down individual medical devices and easily adds new ones as required. The Adapter enables IT staff to quickly provision authorized access to employees, guests, and business partners on any device.
  10. Enable virtual solutions that are designed for public and private cloud implementation—you’ll gain effective management and upgrade paths designed for large-scale environments. IT professionals are able to determine which applications and services best support their needs through secure, hosted environments.
  11. Manage crises by automatically locating, connecting, and deploying extended care teams, including clinical associates, through a dynamic response team and notification system. With the capability to instantaneously expand and contract services, clinicians are available when and where they are needed most.

Healthcare agencies continue to seek innovative solutions that will advance the quality of veteran care And technology continues to make it possible to have a connected and secured experience at every stage of the patient care cycle—including healthcare anywhere that integrates mobile solutions, telemedicine, contact centers, and thousands of medical devices. Harnessing the right technology will help ensure that the best possible anywhere patient care happens now and for the next generation.

Enabling Smart Vertical Solutions in a Smart Digital World

Watch as Jean “JT” Turgeon discusses the path Avaya is taking into the Smart Digital World and how the company enables digital transformation.

In his previous video, Turgeon introduced Avaya’s smart vertical solutions and now returns for a deeper dive. He also elaborates on the importance of the secure and automated end-to-end network infrastructure that Avaya provides, assuring viewers that there are “no other competitors that can do what Avaya can do today.”

Turgeon continues, “Avaya enables Digital Transformation at customer speed. The digitization of global enterprises is a reality in the marketplace and Avaya is delivering vertical solutions today that can help them transform.”

HIMSS 2016: Big Show, Big Problems, Big Opportunities

The HIMSS 2016 healthcare tradeshow that took place last week in Las Vegas is simply massive. With more than 1,300 exhibitors, 26,000 attendees and huge booths (some of which look more like small cities), this is the place to be for healthcare IT.

Avaya was fortunate to have a significant customer speaking slot at the show: Eric Miller of Ascension (the third-largest nonprofit healthcare system in the U.S.) and Avaya Chief Networking Architect Paul Unbehagen took center stage in a packed, 700-seat auditorium to speak about the “Internet of Things” in healthcare.

Eric shared his journey of getting his arms around securing thousands of medical devices without crushing his IT staff. He shared how he was able to realize a 30 percent savings in capital replacement costs and a 60 percent reduction in maintenance costs by implementing Avaya networking.

Unbehagen introduced a new solution called Avaya SDN Fx Healthcare that automates much of the on-boarding, flow management, and inventory tracking of medical devices. New to the market, the solution comprises a new, pocket-sized appliance called an Open Networking Adapter, an SDN controller and an Avaya fabric network, which is planned to run on an optional basis in later releases.

Many of the panel’s attendees took the opportunity to speak with Eric and Paul after their presentation and at the Avaya booth. Booth visitors got hands-on demonstrations of on-boarding an infusion pump, moving it from location to location without losing its network segment, and managing inventory and flow screens.  Also featured were Mobile Care Team Coordination, Remote Care Team and Patient Consultation.

“Many Avaya healthcare customers do not realize the power that they have in their current communication solution,” said Michael Wallace, Avaya Sales Engineer, who spoke to customers inside the Avaya booth. “When we start to show them how they use their Avaya solutions in the same ways that non-healthcare companies do to improve customer experience and increase loyalty, they start to get really excited.”

Thanks to everyone who attended the presentation and visited us inside our booth at HIMSS 2016. Next stop: Enterprise Connect, which starts this week in Orlando.