HIMSS18: Connecting healthcare and IT

Empowering the healthcare industry through technology

by Steve Mitchell, Vice President of Global Business, AT&T Healthcare Solutions

Last week’s annual conference and exhibition for healthcare and IT professionals, sponsored by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), lived up to its strong reputation. The HIMSS18 was the largest of its kind, attracting 45,000 attendees and more than 1,300 exhibitors from around the world to Las Vegas, Nevada, from March 5 to 9, 2018.

Since 1986, HIMSS has hosted this preeminent healthcare-IT conference to encourage the education, innovation, and collaboration of professionals united in improving healthcare through technology.

For AT&T, attending HIMSS18 was a natural fit. We are committed to helping the healthcare industry employ digital technology to solve ever-changing issues (like cyberattacks, for example), while giving leadership the tools to accomplish business goals and objectives. While AT&T doesn’t provide patient care, we deploy our technology and expertise to help cost-effectively produce better outcomes, enhance the patient experience, and help protect patient data and mission-critical systems.

Part of the excitement of events like HIMSS18 is the opportunity to have insightful conversations with smart people working in the healthcare industry–from clinicians and administrators to IT professionals. We gain invaluable firsthand knowledge of the needs of those working on the front line of healthcare that ultimately helps inform the work of our technology experts.

Some of the big topics people shared with me at HIMSS18 included cybersecurity, network costs, and FirstNet. Following is an overview of our discussions.

Protecting patient data and mission-critical systems

By some estimates, patient records are 50 times more valuable to hackers than financial records. Why? They typically contain far more data than the financial records held by banks or credit card companies, for example. In addition, data breaches in the healthcare industry go undetected for 233 days on average, giving thieves plenty of time to roam through a network and extract valuable data. Healthcare systems are also targeted by hackers holding healthcare systems for ransom, often resulting in HIPPA fines due to under-protected data.

The cost of cyberbreaches to the industry is substantial. A 2017 Ponemon report found that the price was highest for healthcare compared to other industries, with a per-capita cost of $380 per record.

Many believe that the relatively short tenure of an industry CIO is driven by the prevalence of security breaches. After a breach, no CIO wants their CEO to ask, "Why didn't you talk to somebody? Why didn't you talk to AT&T? You should have known better." When data breaches occur, it is the CIO who typically takes the heat for being underprepared for the company’s vulnerabilities.

Healthcare systems come to AT&T because of our experience. Our healthcare cybersecurity solutions can help organizations contain risk, anticipate change, and defend against or respond to threats with appropriate innovations. Our visibility into the unique data patterns and rapidly evolving threat activity across our global network helps protect patient data, an organization’s reputation, and ultimately revenue.

Keeping networking costs down

The healthcare industry is consolidating rapidly, resulting in the emergence of regional and even national health systems over the past several years. These larger, more geographically disbursed systems needed different networking solutions than their previous ones that were soon found to be expensive. Smaller network providers had their challenges too, including weak cybersecurity capabilities.

AT&T offers healthcare systems cost-effective network solutions that are reliable and highly secure. We combine our digital solutions and network services with an expanding array of connected medical devices. With our solutions in place, we help healthcare systems focus on what matters most—providing a superior, satisfying experience for their patients in a cost-effective manner.

Serving first responders through FirstNet

Following the 9/11 tragedy in New York City, officials began talking about the communication needs of first responders. AT&T is proud to have been selected by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build and manage the first broadband network dedicated to first responders.

FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give first responders the communications tools they need to help keep America safe.. The network will help empower first responders in many ways, such as enabling them to communicate in a highly secure manner and giving their communications priority access.

During tragedies such as 9/11 or the recent Las Vegas shooting, nonemergency communication traffic swamps the network as family and friends try to reach loved ones. That type of surge could make it more difficult for first responders to communicate with each other and save lives and property.

FirstNet and AT&T will innovate and evolve the network to keep the public safety community at the forefront of technology advances.

Already planning ahead

The exciting news is, organizers are already planning HIMSS19. They know that a world-class conference demands rigorous preparation and forethought. At AT&T, we admire that level of dedication and service. We offer IT solutions for healthcare systems that have been developed under similarly exacting requirements. We provide solutions that help to empower healthcare professionals with innovations and applications that are dependable, cost effective, and highly secure.

We are proud to have been a voice at HIMSS18 and look forward to next year.

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