Healthcare IT is struggling, and it’s not just because of the issues and needs related to the pandemic – although COVID-19 is creating more than its share of stress. There are numerous factors creating both challenges and opportunities for IT professionals, from the exploding IoT market to ever-changing and increasing cyberthreats. Many of these same issues are affecting IT staffs in other industries as well.
It’s hard for those in the IT business to stay on top of the challenges must less research, evaluate, and implement the strategies to overcome them.
More IoT Devices, More IT Challenges
Among the biggest challenges facing healthcare IT staffs is the growing use of connected medical devices, equipment and other IoT devices. More IoT devices means more targets, more risks, and more endpoints for healthcare IT professionals to manage, protect, and continually monitor. That includes smartphones, tablets, self-service kiosks, mHealth systems, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), implantable medical devices (IMD), and more.
The use of IoT devices is also increasing in industries such as aerospace and defense, automotive, manufacturing, transportation and others. In fact, the industrial IoT (IIoT) market is expected to reach $263.4 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 16.7% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2027, according to report by Meticulous Research.
IoT devices, those in the healthcare industry in particular, have several inherent risk factors that increase the chances of a data breach. Because they have largely unquestioned access to much of the data stored on a healthcare organization’s network, IoMT devices are an ideal target for cybercriminals.
Security features often aren’t embedded, increasing the risk of human error. That can be anything from poor system configuration to the absence of audit logs, unauthorized access control or even a lack of processes surrounding the device’s use.
Many healthcare organizations also don’t have network segmentation of IoT from other devices. Any device introduced locally can have an organization-wide impact, especially if there’s lateral movement of patient medical and sensitive information across devices and departments.
IT Staffs are Busy
For the IT staffs charged with dealing with all these issues, it’s a constant struggle. Afterall, it’s not like they only have the security of IoT devices to worry about.
They’re installing or upgrading and maintaining infrastructure to collect, store, process, and analyze Big Data. They’re supporting digital imaging, telemedicine, robotics, and other advanced devices and technologies.
They’re handing the system updates required to accommodate federal IT incentive payment program upgrades, government audits of the federal electronic health records (EHR) incentive payment program, and the switch to a massive set of updated diagnostic and procedural codes (ICD-10). They’re rolling out new software programs and mobile applications, upgrading existing ones, and providing training.
On top of all that are the complexities that come with the consolidation trend in healthcare as institutions merge or are acquired. Disparate IT systems seldom integrate easily.
Healthcare IT departments are also subject to many of the same pressures as their counterparts in other organizations: shrinking budgets, difficulty in hiring and retaining qualified staff, handling growing amounts of data, and dealing with the whole BYOD trend, among them. IoT security is a priority, but it’s also one of many.
The Benefits of IT Outsourcing and Managed Services
There’s no single solution to the dilemma — in healthcare or in any other industry. However, the overwhelming number of challenges facing IT professionals makes a strong case for outsourcing and the use of managed services and professional services.
Routine IT maintenance tasks, like rolling out software updates and monitoring IT systems, that can be offloaded to a third-party vendor can free up valuable IT staff time to devote to more strategic initiatives. After all, it’s hard for IT to focus on implementing digital transformation projects when they’re busy trying to roll out bug fixes.
Even more complex endeavors, like cloud migrations and disaster recovery (DR), can also take up less IT resources if they’re handled by a cloud vendor with extensive experience with that type of project. Let’s face it. Healthcare IT professionals may only be involved in one or two cloud migrations projects in their careers whereas many cloud providers do them frequently.
They not only have the experience. They know what works and what doesn’t work. That applies to other areas of IT as well, such as disaster recovery. Cloud providers also likely have access to the latest technologies and experience using proven best practices. By having them take on a migration or DR project, a healthcare organization’s IT staff can save time and money and be in a better position to realize positive outcomes.
One other big benefit from working with a third-party cloud services provider. Many have an array of products and services that can simplify business operations and other tasks, enhance IT security, optimize performance and more — and develop ways to do so cost effectively, including changing CapEx to OpEx.
Free eBook on IT Challenges and Options
If you’re interested in learning more about some of the specific challenges healthcare IT professionals are facing — many of which are affecting IT personnel in other industries as well, download US Signal’s free eBook, “Data Protection and Security in the Healthcare Industry.” It also includes tips for addressing some of those challenges.
Or talk to us at US Signal about how we can help your organization overcome some of its IT challenges. Whether you need IT outsourcing, managed security services, cloud migration, a disaster recovery plan, or some other solution, we can make it happen.
Contact US Signal at 866.274.4625 or [email protected]and speak to a solution architect.