Connected Tissue: how real-time data transforms a fragmented healthcare industry
Seconds matter in an emergency, a truth that’s more apparent in healthcare than anywhere else. Each second that passes can lead to new information that may affect emergency response or crisis management plans put in place to save lives. Even those professionals with access to crisis management tools can feel overwhelmed when receiving a flood of information all at once. The emergence of real-time data and key technologies is transforming an industry.
Though many hospitals and agencies use tools to interact with each other, not all communicate in a timely manner. This allows fragmentation, a systemic problem in which parties operate separately without coordination, to take root. In the healthcare industry, fragmentation can cause inefficient resource management and potentially harm to those seeking treatment. A decentralised approach creates problems that could be better handled with real-time data tools playing a greater role in response plans.
Hurricane Harvey serves as a prime example of how harnessing real-time data can combat fragmentation. As damage reports and requests for help poured in, Harris County Sheriff spokesperson Jason Spencer reported that responders struggled to “pinpoint the worst area.” Authorities had to prioritise their response based on which callers seemed most at risk, a difficult thing to assess with so much information going to multiple government agencies and requiring aid from local hospital networks. Some care facilities became uninhabitable and dramatic images of one facility showed that patients needed to be evacuated to a safer site.
During and after the storm, ambulances suddenly had to question which roadways were safe enough for travel and dispatchers had to decide how they would distribute limited resources for an area that covers more than 1,700 square miles and 4.5mn people. Meanwhile on social media, users posted images and videos of their dire situations, giving additional context to the severity. First responders could then incorporate that into their existing communication systems and better assess where they were most needed.
Cultural changes and technological advancements now enable social media updates to be detected, disseminated and delivered seconds after a major event has occurred. The influx of images and videos from the scene offer an opportunity for healthcare workers to get early, on-the-ground information that can lead to faster responses. In some cases, that may mean emergency response coordinators can alert a specialist to arrive to a hospital sooner. Combining this live insight from social media with information from a growing list of public resources, managers have the ability to make quicker and more informed decisions.
Many organisations turn to corporate security solutions with real-time capabilities as a way to make sense of the informational chaos engulfing organisations each day. There’s simply too much real-time information available in public data and from citizens to manually form a clear and comprehensive view, so finding tools that can discover and distill multiple streams is critical.
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A director of emergency management at a major healthcare network in New York City recently shared how much more effective he could be with streamlined information. After first seeing reports of a water main break in the city, social media alerts revealed that it was actually a pipe explosion, which required a very different response. The director was then able to alert his staff to how the explosion and resulting investigation would affect mass transit and traffic in the area. Images also indicated that the healthcare network should investigate whether contaminants like asbestos might be in the debris. As a result, he was able to have hospitals prepare for decontamination of patients and consider whether nearby facilities should be closed. The director was able to get moment-by-moment updates and prepare a response plan much sooner than he would have without the images shared on social media and updates from first responders. He also noted that in an active shooter scenario, social media insights could help hospitals anticipate the need to prepare for a surge in patients or make staffing adjustments in a difficult time.
Among the various facets of the industry, there’s a constant flow of information that must be assessed and communicated to the right people. Getting more data from multiple sources and quickly synthesising the information is critical. It also allows healthcare professionals, or anyone seeking to manage security during pivotal moments, to continue receiving updates.
Unfortunately, it is common for facilities and organisations within an area to lack systems that centralise insight and data. Fragmented systems inevitably create gaps in knowledge and inefficient allocations of resources. An ideal scenario would be for stakeholders to have a common method for collecting and assessing incoming data and information, ensuring that decisions are made with clarity.
In an industry where every second counts, technologies that can surface and distill relevant information in real time can empower healthcare professionals to reach higher levels of efficiency and care. Workers are reacting and responding in the moment, with a clearer picture of the facts, and health organisations can now share public data that informs decisions moments later.
Everyone in the health ecosystem, from trauma nurses to security personnel, can benefit from this method of combating fragmentation. By integrating real-time data into the decision-making process, healthcare organisations have the power to move quickly and enable seamless communications that help address the escalating challenge of data chaos.
Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”