Politics and healthcare go hand-in-hand. They haven’t always been that way, but in the world of politics today, you better have a stance on healthcare issues or you will get eaten alive by the media, by the polls and by the people.
Politics and the internet seem to go hand-in-hand since Al Gore invented the internet way back when (okay, the US Army actually designed and initiated the internet, but who cares! Sounds better that the Vice President developed it…)
Now, healthcare and the internet might be teaming up to create their own secured “superhighway” in the future, thus providing security to your personal information AND medical records while allowing for blazing fast connections between patients, doctors and clinics/hospitals, including video, audio and imaging. The way we know healthcare today is evolving into the technology of tomorrow. Will you be ready for this new age of healthcare delivery?
Would it surprise you if I told you that Bush and Obama actually agree on something? Ok so it’s not George W. Bush, but it is his cousin Jonathan Bush, and he agrees at least in part with Obama that the internet will play a huge role in the provision of healthcare services from today into the future. He contends that “we’ll have a ‘healthcare Internet’ within five years.” See his interview on CNBC here.
“Evidence suggests the shift may already be underway. While just 15 percent of hospitals used electronic health records [EHRs] in 2010, that number skyrocketed to 59 percent in 2013, according to data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.”
However the increased use of EHRs doesn’t automatically necessitate the need for a ‘healthcare internet’. And based on the interview, it is unclear exactly what that would entail. There is an obvious need to connect patients to doctors and doctors to other doctors to share information and create better patient outcomes. Whether this requires creating a whole new domain for healthcare providers like a dot org for non-profits, creating a national healthcare data center or cloud, or connecting every healthcare facility on a common VPN is yet to be seen.
The reality is that privacy of healthcare data is a major concern and as more healthcare data is digitized and more medical equipment is connected via the Internet of Things (IoT) that concern grows.
Could a private “healthcare internet’ be the answer?
Bush goes on to site Amazon as an example of a company that created a comfort level for consumers in online shopping and the perceived safety of their financial information. I think he makes a mistake however in his downplaying of the theft of medical information.
“Frankly, I’d rather have the bad guys see my colonoscopy than get my credit card number,” Bush said. “And my credit card and my equities are all online.”
His comment discounts the fact that medical identity theft is a major concern, one the Federal Trade Commission has created a web page for.
“A thief may use your name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with your insurance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s health information is mixed with yours, your treatment, insurance and payment records, and credit report may be affected.”
With that in mind, it’s no wonder HIPPA is so strict on how we store and protect medical records and history. Maybe a “healthcare internet” of some kind is the answer. Even if it is, Bush believes it is five years away.
So as a healthcare provider, how do you protect data in the meantime as more and more technology hits the network in your facility?
Make sure to work with trusted technology partners when implementing connected devices, digital signage, interactive patient engagement systems, and telemedicine systems.
This will assure that the proper care is given to the design and implementation not only of the required hardware, but also of the connection strategy and access to the facility’s network.
Utilizing things like hardware firewalls, VLANs, and even completely separate WiFi networks for patient and visitor internet access and also for digital signage systems and screen based wayfinding can help separate these pieces of hardware from computers storing confidential patient information. Making sure your technology team is sensitive to network security today will only make things easier if healthcare actually does get its own internet in the future.
Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org