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How IoT, Edge Computing Can Impact HIT Infrastructure in 2018

HIT infrastructure is evolving to include more support of the IoT and edge computing as organizations focus more on population health, according to VMware Senior Healthcare Strategist Chris Logan.

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By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Many healthcare organizations are going through digital transformations and are interested in what evolving advanced technology is working for other entities. The Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing are just two areas that could have significant impacts on HIT infrastructure in the coming year.

Evolving technology is expected to transform the way patients experience their care. The digitization of healthcare is focusing on involving patients more with their care, according to VMware Senior Healthcare Strategist Chris Logan.

“How do you deliver technology, not just to clinicians but also to patients?” Logan said to HITInfrastructure.com. “How do we deliver technology that is useable and secure? You’re going to see a lot of security conversations taking place at HIMSS.”

“The reason why a lot of the security conversations are going take place is because the evolving threat and vulnerabilities that are taking place in security are just not going to end,” he continued. “Between the legacy security threats that are still out there, I think you’re going see a changing faith in compliance over the next years.”

Logan estimates that 75 percent of the nation’s health information is out on the dark web, which makes it difficult for cyber attackers to monetize. This can also contribute to the growth of ransomware in healthcare. Cyber criminals could try capturing data, encrypting data, or disrupting the availability of services.

READ MORE: Healthcare Blockchain Potential Impacts Future HIT Infrastructure

“If you think about where services are going as we start to push healthcare outside the walls of the hospital, it will force us to take a hard look back into how we deliver services,” Logan explained. “What are the diversified services that we’re delivering and what are the security frameworks that we’re putting around it?”

“There’s a lot of opportunities for us to continue to talk about the changing the face of what we call the digital clinical workspace.”

The IoT will start to evolve for securing medical devices and will significantly influence how healthcare organizations adopt the consumerization of IT. Patients can use wearable devices and smartphones to communicate their health data with the network.

Blockchain is also expected to be a popular topic of conversation especially since the first healthcare blockchain solution was released earlier in 2018.

Organizations will be figuring out what works and what doesn’t for blockchain in healthcare and more entities and health IT vendors will likely adopt the technology over the next year.

READ MORE: Edge Computing Essential for 2018 HIT Infrastructure

“I think we’ll start to see the emergence of more ‘controlled chains’ that you’re buying into so that you’re guaranteeing continuous uptime,” said Logan.  “You’re guaranteeing the non-repudiation of the information that’s going in because you’re going to partner with a vendor to provide the actual chain.”

Logan also expects edge computing to be a popular topic going forward as organizations adopt more IoT devices.

“I see the IoT evolving this year,” he stated. “Healthcare practitioners are beginning to look at the whole human. What I mean by the whole human is that it isn’t just the medical test that you get.”

Logan gave the example that a clinician can ask a patient how much sleep or exercise she is getting. The patient can say that she exercises every day, when in reality she may only exercise when she gets around to it. These devices are going to be able to prove or disprove what the patient is saying she is doing.  

“With IoT devices, clinicians are going to start to look at more human factors, as it relates to developing care plans for individuals,” Logan explained. “That’s going to be important because the future of healthcare is really going to be based in the population. The only way that these providers are going to get paid is not just for better outcomes in general, but for more healthy populations.”

READ MORE: Edge Computing Uses IoT Devices for Fast Health IT Analytics

These IoT devices can provide better outcomes for patients from a health perspective and eventually tie into what patients are paying for premiums on their insurance.

Edge computing is how organizations are going to be able to get the data collected by IoT devices in a seamless and secure way. 

“I see edge computing as the next frontier for how healthcare is going to be delivered,” Logan predicted. “Once we get those data points and start to understand the populations, we can start focusing on which population health really matters.”

“We can really start to look at how to fight disease over the course of time,” he continued. “Where edge computing is going to be big is with analytics and artificial intelligence. The time of precision medicine, and genomics, and artificial intelligence is knocking on the door.”

These technologies will be able to significantly improve patient treatment, but organizations need to have the proper IT infrastructure solutions to support these tools and other tools they will adopt in the future.

“What infrastructure is able to do now is help sequence somebody’s genome in about a 24-hour time period,” said Logan. “That is groundbreaking for what can be done to prevent disease in the future. The infrastructure that’s running all of that compute power is grounded in how we’re going to move all evolving technology.”

“It’s just one piece of that edge gateway technology that’s bringing in the consumerization of IoT to help create the treatment plans that are grounded in precision medicine through genomics and artificial intelligence.”

The concept of digital clinical workspace is one of the biggest IT infrastructure challenges healthcare organizations are facing.

“It’s critically important to provide the right information, at the right time, to the right user,” Logan explained. “A lot of organizations are at this critical mass point where they’re trying to cut costs and not have technology be a barrier to success.”

“We’re seeing a lot of trending in this concept of digital clinical workspace, and really utilizing virtualization technologies to deliver a session to an individual, regardless of where they are, based upon some assertions related back to the device themselves and back to the individual.”

“A lot of organizations are being faced with operational burdens, and they’re trying to figure out how to cut back on that operational burden to really create the delivery of technology that doesn’t interfere with the delivery of care,” he continued. “The digital clinical workspace is a huge place for a lot of organizations to look and then find ways to deliver the right thing at the right time.”

Overall, organizations are looking to expand their infrastructure with more robust tools that are cost effective. While this seems like a daunting task, entities staying informed on IT infrastructure trends is important to planning how to best deploy and support advanced tools.

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