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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Avaya Healthcare Solutions: Three Insights About Patient-Centered Care

Over three years ago I had a terrible skiing accident. I broke my hip at the femoral head and the force of the fall caused extensive tissue damage. I went to a rural hospital in Quebec, and was transferred to The Ottawa Hospital where emergency surgery was performed. Chronic pain and rehab followed. A year later a second surgery was performed as my hardware started to detach. Finally, it was confirmed that the bone was dying. I had a total hip replacement a year ago. I will never be the same, but I skied last season, I just signed up for my first triathlon, I am at peace. Throughout this journey, I have found purpose in my work as never before. I truly understand the need for patient-centered care and this crystalized in my discussions with health systems about Avaya healthcare solutions:

    • Patient access to services is critical. Patients must have access to condition-appropriate resources. In my case, there was significant time lapse between transfers, which impacted my ability to see resources that affected outcome (an example: I waited four hours for an ambulance transfer to Ottawa, for a surgery where success decreased with time). We must streamline communications among referring physicians—accepting institutions, transportation, and admissions. (It took two months to schedule hardware removal for a 10-minute procedure that caused inflammation to the point of immobility.) To increase access, we must reduce wait times by reducing no-shows, not-ready shows, and re-admissions. To ensure optimal access to services, we must enable continual communication (often via automation) with patients and the wider care team.
    • A care team must be integrated and centered on patient wellness. This is a culture change as much as a technology discussion. Too often, it is not easy for a physician to have a discussion with a care team—common pagers and voicemail are insufficient. In my experience, physicians had few tools that let them review my record—they could not click a button and see my holistic care team and collaborate with them. I suspect my surgeon has never spoken to my physiotherapist, my scar treatment therapist, my back specialist, my PCP….
    • We must get specific on outcomes and use cases if we are to leverage new technology. My husband walked into my room one night at the hospital and apparently (morphine-induced days) I was discussing with the nurse Avaya’s mobility solutions. I vaguely remember, and have since qualified orthopedic nursing requests:
      • Having easy access to ancillary services like physiotherapists, pharmacists, radiology, dietary
      • Having a streamlined discharge processes
      • Having alerting and nurse calls that support a “silent hospital”

If technologists are to position solutions they must work with providers and patients to be specific on how solutions impact workflow. We must show the care team the art of the possible and take real business feedback.

I admire my care team and I am appreciative for the ongoing care I receive and the IT and support organizations that make care better every day. Improvements can be made in patient-centered care, but every provider I’ve interacted with cared about my outcome. This caring is what will drive patient-centered care forward. I am grateful for my experience. I am grateful for my career.

5 Steps for Mapping Your Customer Journey Transformation

A customer journey map puts the user front and center in the organization’s thinking. It shows changes in customer behavior and demonstrates the need for the entire organization to adapt. There is no organization-wide or even industry-wide standardization of customer journey transformation mapping. But incorporate these five key steps into your plan to create a successful and effective customer journey map.

  1. Baseline Your Customer Journey
    Document your current customer journey. Once this is established, a roadmap can be kept firmly in mind, the initial architecture can be strengthened, and part of the day-to-day operations can be defined. Not only will a roadmap enable you to focus on customer needs and solving their problems, but it can be used to identify opportunities for future innovation and experiences.
  2. Define the Principles
    In reviewing the customer journey, keep focus on customer needs and solving their problems. What can be simplified? Where can value be added? How can self-service be enhanced? Establish a new way of working, embed it in the organization, and guide frontline employees in making the customer experience the best it can possibly be, at every point in the journey.
  3. Integrate Your Data
    Integrating multiple sources of data is key to creating a single unified customer view. The data from your analytics can also do more than predict customer behavior. They can shed light on your infrastructure’s current condition. A lack of usable data can be a sign of issues within your infrastructure, whereas good quality, current and integrated data centralizes user insights and completely connects the customer journey.
  4. Identify the Barriers
    What is stopping you from delivering the desired experience? What is within your direct control? Shine a spotlight on specific areas that can be immediately assigned, owned, and acted on. Include areas that require broad cross-organizational support to reinforce the infrastructure and ensure the continuing progress of the transformation plan.
  5. Measure Your Progress
    When changes are made to your customer journey, it’s important to consistently document the impact of the changes and share the customer reaction. Be sure to measure periodically, specifically after any significant alterations. Reflect new technologies, trends, and behaviors. This will help you make fast, informed, and agile decisions to refine processes and sustain momentum throughout the transformation.

Incorporating these five steps into your transformation plan will ensure that you produce an output based on user research, that you have collected the best possible quality data available, and that you have a documented and measured plan. At the end of your mapping initiative, you will have a team of cross-organizational allies that are engaged and ready to act on the insights revealed during the process.

Delivering a Memorable Customer Experience—Are You Ready to Serve?

With an increasing number of brands entering the market across virtually all sectors (financial services, retail, healthcare, communications, etc.) organizations are fighting harder than ever to meet their customers’ demands. But as plenty of companies are discovering, it’s one thing to create a good product or service, and a completely different thing to deliver a memorable customer experience (CX).

CX is ranked a key competitive differentiator by 82% of companies, however only 11% self-rate their CX as nine out of 10 or better. These figures highlight just how tough it can be to adapt to digitally-savvy consumers, particularly with the breadth and complexity of day-to-day customer interactions.

Delivering a superior, memorable customer experience is a challenging balancing act, requiring organisations to execute their product vision while prioritizing customers’ demands. It’s also increasingly difficult now that consumers have so many options to choose from, and far more means of expressing dissatisfaction should an experience take a downturn.

But while business leaders—including C-level executives—commonly promote their customer centricity, the reality is many haven’t quite unravelled what that really means for their organisations. And unfortunately, there are still many instances where existing (archaic) policies inhibit the ability to serve the customer.

Although there’s an understanding that customer experience must incorporate traditional telephony, apps, email, web chat and social media, it takes much more than simply providing different platforms for consumers to use. Omnichannel isn’t enough.

In order to optimise customer experience, companies must ask:

  • How well do our various channels communicate?
  • How can we reduce the number of times clients need to pass a security check without jeopardising their privacy and data?
  • Can we start a conversation over web chat, and then move it to phone call or video?
  • How can we better understand every one of our unique customers?
  • How can all of these elements be wrapped together to ensure the entire organisation is ready to serve?

All of these questions have something in common: they require a modern platform that is flexible enough to meet every customer’s unique needs, as well as the ability to collect and analyse data to inform intelligent decisions that will boost the value the brand can deliver. To effectively serve customers, companies need to consolidate touch points to deliver a consistent, seamless experience through various channels—but they must also ensure that every team member—in any role—is a customer experience expert who has the right tools and data when they get a query.

At Avaya, we have fundamentally transformed our services delivery model. We enable our clients to create experiences that align to the needs of their businesses while catering for the expectations of their customers. By developing a flexible software core that can be customised to almost every customer experience scenario, we are helping organisations become ready to serve, which leads to maximised customer satisfaction and subsequent retention.

Customer experience is of such prominence that analyst firm IDC argued the evolving contact centre market is buoyed by business leaders’ focus on improving CX. This demonstrates the opportunity at hand, however organisations must do more than simply provide a selection of channels for consumers to use. Long wait times are perceived as unacceptable—the limited flow of data within an omnichannel environment should be too. Companies need to let their customers determine value. And that is the approach Avaya has adopted in order to fulfil our role as the communications company for digital transformation.