If ever the world needed a solid and functioning healthcare system, it is now. It is being tested like never before and things are going to get worse before they get better. But this is not the right time or place for sensationalist headlines. Right now, we must look at how to help the healthcare sector best cope with this crisis.
We can’t all be doctors and nurses on the front line. But, as has been well documented now – we all must do our bit. The technology sector is no different and the hospital IT teams need of our support just as much as the medical staff need the support of the public by staying indoors.
I know from speaking to several CIOs in the healthcare sector that there are five key areas that IT can help address:
- IT must ensure secure operations under all circumstances. The healthcare system must continue to prepare for the worst. This means that sports halls and event rooms are being prepared to serve as hospitals. Network infrastructure has to be set up quickly, access to systems in the data centre has to be established and devices have to be able to access data in locations that were never designed to cope with this requirement.
- IT must remain accessible to clinical staff to quickly adopt and implement new, short-term changes. Whether it is returning staff, staff helping out in different departments or new graduates, a rush of news users suddenly need access to systems and applications. Rights management must be adapted, and the IT department has to take over the onboarding of numerous new users and provide access at very short notice.
- IT must ensure that critical information is quickly made available where it is needed. Fast access to information is of elementary importance. For example, it is essential to be able to provide information on where intensive care beds or medical equipment are available. Another example are apps for querying symptoms, which make a risk analysis if a corona disease is present.
- IT must help to protect clinical staff and enable people who do not have to be in hospital to work from outside. Hardware needs to be available to work from home. If not, then goods from inventory must be made available to the employees at short notice or applications installed on private devices. Virtual desktops need to be facilitated to aid remote working and bandwidth expanded to cope with load
- IT must not compromise IT security. The sad truth is that that current emergency situation is being exploited by cyber criminals. E-mails perfectly camouflaged as official government letters with alleged Covid-19 instructions that are nothing more than disguised viruses and Trojans, are rotating. No matter what happens the healthcare industry must not compromise on security.
We must work together to overcome this crisis. I know the technology sector can step-up to this challenge. It’s in our nature to adapt, act quickly and create solutions. Let’s show the world what we can do.
By Ihab Farhoud, Director, Systems Engineering, METNA, VMware Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.