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Mobility vs Security – Can You Really Have Both?

From peeking at Brittany Spears medical records to the theft of almost five million medical records from a tape back-up, no healthcare issue garners more adverse publicity, or passion, than violations of patient privacy. While you might expect that since the institution of HIPAA and quarter million dollar fines that this is relatively uncommon now, you would be wrong.  A stunning incidence of nearly 18 million breaches of privacy has occurred over the past two years according to a recent report from ANSI, the American National Standards Institute.  That is equivalent to the population of the states of Florida or New York.

As the world moves towards adoption of Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchanges, concern for the vulnerability of private health information is escalating as the scale of these data breaches reach epic proportions.  A West Coast health care system experienced the theft of electronic health information for 4 million of its patients.  And another major academic medical center inadvertently disclosed the electronic health records of 20,000 of its patients.  The risks are real and global.  And they leave an organization -- any organization -- subject to severe legal and financial damage, not to mention the damage to their reputation. None of these organizations were cavalier about their security compliance.  But let’s face it, the workforce is larger and more mobile. The data is more prolific and ubiquitous and takes  on many different forms.   And the thieves are getting more sophisticated.

But so are the solutions. In the past, it was necessary to balance mobility with security-the more mobile, the less secure.  Not anymore.  Cisco’s AnyConnect combines industry-leading Cisco cloud and premises-based web security and next generation remote access technology to deliver the most robust and secure enterprise mobility solution on the market today.

 

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Transforming Clinical Workflows with Workspace Virtualization

August 14, 2012 at 10:56 am PST

In my previous blog, I talked about how virtualization is picking up momentum in the healthcare industry and how this is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need to support positive patient outcomes.  In this blog, I would like to touch on one of the key areas where virtualization has made a significant impact – desktop virtualization.  

Hospitals frequently use shared dictation terminals to host their clinical dictation applications. As doctors complete multiple patient rounds, they make their way to one of these dedicated workstations, plug their personal microphone into the workstation, and dictate their notes from their previous rounds.  The delay between completing rounds and dictating patient data is inefficient, but more importantly, it creates the potential for errors.  Access through shared and dedicated workstations also tethers the clinician to specific terminals that can only be used when the doctor is in the clinic. For example, there is no easy way to access clinical reference imaging applications when the doctor is away from the clinic and wants to quickly review images for a specific patient. Instead, the doctor must either call a peer at the hospital to review the images, or incur travel time to go to the hospital. 

Finally, although the shared workstations distributed across the clinics and hospitals are centrally managed, the software operating on each workstation can quickly drift away from its original configuration as users install specific applications not hosted by the data center or use the workstation in other ways that compromise the original “golden image.”  As a result, every workstation and application that a caregiver uses can behave differently. A hospital’s IT group can potentially spend most of its time chasing repetitive workstation issues and errors, as well as managing different instances of almost applications. IT administrators constantly face the challenge of unwanted installations, as well as the incompatibility between images from one shared workstation to the next. Upgrading desktops and applications can be a difficult task, requiring many hours of effort on each workstation. 

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Virtualization In Healthcare: To Be Or Not To Be?

August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm PST

Virtualization continues to be a hot topic in the healthcare industry with many industry pundits calling this technology a potential game-changer.  There seems to be a lot of excitement around how this technology can help the healthcare industry in terms of cost optimization and efficiencies. Some of the key virtualization drivers include the move towards electronic medical records (EMR) deployment, support for increasing number of mobile devices, and providing secure access to patient-sensitive data to authorized individuals (HIPAA compliance).  

I do believe that healthcare organizations have much to gain by embracing virtualization in their networks, data centers, and end-user workspaces, but they must have complete confidence that benefits can be achieved without compromising core requirements for clinicians, administrators, and IT.  In order to build this confidence, one must clearly articulate the “incremental” return on investment for adopting virtualization technology.  I have seen and heard several bold claims as to how virtualization is going to transform the healthcare industry but yet those very claims are light on how it’s truly going to help healthcare organizations be “incrementally” better.  I keep emphasizing “incremental” because that is the true value-add customers are looking for in order to justify their investments.  In today’s macro environment, everyone is being tasked to do more with less. 

In most healthcare environments, clinical and administrative applications are client-server based.  Often a nurse or a doctor who has to enter data into an application ―for instance, an EMR application― does so from a shared workstation. This task starts with the user identifying himself/herself through a secure login process that can take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. After entering the data, the user often immediately logs out, leaving the station available for the next user.  In an average healthcare setting, clinicians will repetitively access such workstations for data entry, sometimes as often as 50 to 70 times per shift.  The cumulative productivity loss can add up to about an hour (60 times, with a 1-minute login procedure each time). The nurse or the doctor could use this time more productively by meeting with patients or other clinicians and increasing the number of patients they can see.  This is just one example where virtualization could provide the “incremental” value-add by significantly cutting the productivity loss, which has a direct positive impact on patient experience. 

Healthcare industry is at an interesting cross-road due to the confluence of virtualization and cloud computing.  Several healthcare organizations are viewing virtualization as a stepping stone in their cloud journey. Increasing number of healthcare applications are being used in a virtualized environment – either at server level or desktop/mobile level.  This is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need, wherever they are, to support positive patient outcomes.  Over the subsequent blogs, I will articulate how Cisco virtualization platform is providing the “incremental” value-add that gives the healthcare organizations the complete confidence they need to embrace this capability.  Until then, stay tuned.

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Cisco Repeats in “2012 Best in KLAS Awards for Medical Equipment and Infrastructure”

July 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm PST

KLAS recently released its “2012 Best in KLAS Awards: Medical Equipment & Infrastructure” reportand for second year in a row, Cisco’s wireless infrastructure, specifically the Cisco 7900 series phones earned the top spot in the industry.  As stated by KLAS, the Best in KLAS awards are based solely on the data from customers who provide feedback with the goal to ultimately improve healthcare through better technology. The awards recognize companies that offer excellent service and meet provider needs with product functionality. This report includes a total of 3,765 provider evaluations, including interviews with hospital and clinic executives, administrators, physicians, nurses, clinicians, directors, and managers interacting with healthcare equipment and infrastructure solutions.   Specific details on Cisco wireless products and infrastructure can be found in KLAS’s wireless infrastructure report.

Certainly this is very exciting news for Cisco, but I am even more excited about the fact that technology continues to improve quality of patient care and clinical workflows that ultimately enables a superior patient experience.   Wireless continues to be one of the key technologies that is truly transforming  the healthcare arena – whether it’s a doctor accessing patient records (in a secure manner) on his/her mobile device from any place -- any time or a smart pill ingested by a patient that is wirelessly dispensing the appropriate medication dosage based on patient vitals.  The graph below illustrates some of the key examples of patient care improvement that are being impacted by wireless technology. 

Examples of Patient Care Improvements

Source: KLAS

We can all have differing opinions on what is the most effective way of lowering cost within our healthcare system, but one undisputable fact is that technology continues to improve every aspect of the healthcare eco-system and I am really excited as to what awaits us in the next few years.  What do you think?

 

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This Cloud is For Me

In my first job as a nurse manager every morning I was delivered a stack of interoffice envelopes.  Some mornings now when I open my email and find 40 messages have come in overnight, I think wistfully of those simpler days.  I could send a response and not hear about it again for at least a day.  Now, I can’t even read the next message before the one I just answered is back in my inbox.  And I still think whoever created mail groups must be the spawn of Satan for developing corporate sanctioned spam.

But I do love IM.  It might be the single most impactful tool to influence productivity ever.  I kept a tally one week and it saved me an average of 20 phone calls a day, or in real terms, 20 delays in getting my work done.  My friend Bethany told me the other day her company doesn’t use IM.  Are they nuts?! It is instant, focused collaboration without calling a meeting or picking up a phone.  I can go to Webex Connect, our IM tool, and instantly contact anyone in the company. Well maybe not John Chambers, but anyone else.  I will also know if this is not the time to interrupt them.   I’d give up my dishwasher before I would give up IM.

But it never occurred to me until this morning how much of the change in how I work was because of the cloud.  From the photos, music, Facebook, to email, IM and web conferences our day is comprised of many clouds.   One of the great things about working at Cisco is the abundance of data.  Global cloud traffic will increase 12-fold from 2010-2015.  And data center traffic will equal 4.6 quadrillion  emails by 2015.   I think most of that is in my Inbox.

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