Health Care

Healthcare IT Trends and Challenges

The last decade has shown a dramatic technology shift within the healthcare industry. Until now, records were primarily based on paper. Today, healthcare providers are increasingly relying on electronic forms and the online processing of patient records for various purposes, including information retrieval, medical test results, service billing, and more.

This shift towards “e-Healthcare” has transpired due to the desire of healthcare providers to offer a faster, more accessible, efficient, and accurate means of handling patient records in day-to-day business operations. As a result, this demand has generated a change both in the IT requirements of and services offered by healthcare providers.

This technological shift introduces new challenges, which healthcare IT administrators must now manage inclusive of challenges related to application availability, performance, and security, as well as compliance, privacy and authenticity.

Ensuring Client Data Privacy and Authenticity

Today, healthcare providers store and analyze every patient’s private, sensitive information, namely patient health records. Regulations defined by governments worldwide impose compliance guidelines on how providers should protect sensitive data.

Ensuring patient data security and integrity requires healthcare providers to implement strong digital security and encryption methods (e.g. SHA-2 hash functions, SSL, VPN, TSL, digital identity cards, etc.) for users, organizations and authorities accessing these applications. While these measures may be common practice, their respective implementation is far from simple, leading IT managers to install new software and hardware on application servers, perform network modifications, and manage distribution and storage of private keys and certificates.

IT Infrastructure Challenges

Healthcare providers continuously strive to increase their number of customers, while at the same time increasing the number of online services provided to existing customers, which may require ongoing collaboration with other healthcare providers. These two parallel paths drive continuous growth in terms of the number of users and traffic that an IT infrastructure can accommodate. As traffic grows, the infrastructure must be aligned with new business requirements for capacity increase.

Typically, scaling up IT infrastructure implies hardware replacement leading to a break in business continuity and therefore costly downtime.

Application Availability Challenges

For healthcare providers, the term “mission-critical applications” is more meaningful than for other types of organizations – whenever a healthcare mission-critical application or service is unavailable, a patient's health is at risk.

Healthcare applications and services rely on the availability of the network infrastructure and (in some cases) also Internet connectivity in order to operate correctly and clearly communicate with other organizations/applications located outside the physical healthcare facility.

Application Performance Challenges

As healthcare providers increasingly rely on applications to perform both routine and life supporting tasks, the need for good performance and fast response time from healthcare applications becomes fundamental. IT managers must work harder to ensure that healthcare professionals and end-customers receive good QoE (Quality of Experience) when accessing content, especially considering the use of powerful encryption methods such as SSL, which significantly affect application performance. The need to maintain business continuity of healthcare services along with defending against emerging network attacks results in the need for IT managers to deal with new security challenges specific to the healthcare market.

    Having deployed Radware solutions, we observed significant improvement in our network, more specifically, in network performance, load balancing of network applications as well as system resources protection. By ensuring the high availability, stability and security of our network, the user experience has been significantly improved."

    Spokesperson from the ECUST Network Center.

    Empowering e-Healthcare with Radware’s APSolute e-Healthcare Solution

    Using Radware’s APSolute® e-Healthcare solution, healthcare providers can easily take the leap to becoming an “e-healthcare provider”.

    Radware’s business-smart application infrastructure is tailored for applications used by healthcare providers, such as HIS, PACS, EMR, etc. By utilizing the unique benefits of Radware’s tailored-made infrastructure, healthcare providers can now guarantee the highest levels of: availability, performance, security, and operational efficiency for all business critical applications, while reducing the operational costs of managing the application infrastructure.

    Ensure Application Availability and Business Continuity

    Radware’s APSolute e-Healthcare solution guarantees the availability of locally hosted and globally dispersed mission and patient critical applications (Cerner Millennium, McKesson Star, Oracle-PeopleSoft, PACS, etc), services, and data centers.

    Using Radware’s best-of-breed global redirection and multi-WAN link switching solutions, healthcare providers can ensure that any user (doctors, nurses, patients, etc) or healthcare provider (HMOs, pharmacies, hospitals) can access the required applications when necessary, regardless of their location (local or remote) and/or distance from the data center.

    Improve Application Performance and End User QoE

    Radware’s APSolute e-Healthcare solution ensures the fastest content delivery to healthcare professionals and providers. Using Radware patented technology, healthcare IT administrators can verify that content is always provided from the best performing resource, closest to the user.

    In addition, using Radware’s best-of-breed application acceleration and offloading technologies, IT administrators gain improved performance and maximized utilization of all network resources (web and application servers, WAN links, etc).

    Protect Mission Critical Applications and Patient Records

    Radware’s APSolute e-Healthcare solution provides a unique security framework, which ensures full protection against web-services-based attacks as well as vulnerability and non-vulnerability based IPS and DoS attacks from harming a healthcare provider’s applications, while at the same time, allowing legitimate users to continue accessing resources.

    In addition to providing full protection against emerging attacks, Radware’s solution utilizes the latest security measures such as SSL encryption, Trust-Service Lists (TSL) and SHA-2 encryption algorithms, to ensure the confidentiality and security of electronic information (patient EMR, patient identities, hospital medical records, etc), as well as meet regulatory and compliances requirements (HITECH, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, etc).

    Enabling IT Infrastructure Cost Saving and Future Ready Scalability

    Radware’s unique on-demand infrastructure allows for cost effective to accommodate the future growth in the number of users, applications, and traffic due to its -unique “pay-as-you-grow” approach and on demand hardware platforms.

    In addition, the Radware solution provides the ability to increase return on investment (ROI) and reduce CAPEX, by utilizing existing applications and network infrastructure while increasing the number of customers served and traffic managed.

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