Healthcare is facing unprecedented challenges in delivering care right now. IT support is key as hospitals and care providers grapple with evolving threats and difficulties in sourcing necessary equipment. Tom Stafford, chief technology officer for CDW Healthcare and former CIO of Halifax Health, recently hosted a panel discussion detailing what healthcare CIOs and directors are doing to prepare for business disruptions as a result of the current health crisis. This discussion featured current and former health system CIOs and directors, along with practice leads from CDW Healthcare.

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IT’s Role in Healthcare Operations

Tom Stafford laid out the importance of IT supporting continuity of healthcare operations, the need for nonessential personnel to work remotely, why improving remote access for patients is necessary and guidance on preparing for patient isolation scenarios.

Andrea Daugherty, director of enterprise IT security and infrastructure at Dell Medical School, University of Texas-Austin, shared her experience in recently standing up a mobile testing facility at her care facility. This included extending the wireless network outside the hospital building. She also spoke to an initiative where her team quickly ramped up telehealth efforts, including onboarding 200 service providers to the telehealth platform.

Mike Marques, director of technical services at Halifax Health walked through his experience of quickly setting up an outdoor care facility in his hospital’s parking lot. Another important initiative his team has been working on is building up the necessary IT support for surge capacity. In the very near future his hospital expects a large influx of patients so they’re now laying the groundwork for that looming challenge.

Best Practices for Securing WFH, Mobile Devices, Collaboration

Within healthcare, many nonessential staff are having to work from home. Security cannot be overlooked despite the numerous other areas that require IT’s attention. CDW’s Jeremy Weiss, team lead of the security practice, talked about the importance of protecting the mobile workforce in healthcare, sharing some valuable suggestions such as leveraging cloud technology as much as possible to quickly acquire necessary virtual appliances and firewalls to keep data safe.

Many healthcare organizations are struggling to quickly onboard their workers into a work-from-home (WFH) program. CDW’s Remy Morgan, a senior inside solution architect focused on mobility, offered some guidance on creating an efficient mobile workforce in a quick timeframe. He provides some creative ideas for getting around laptop shortages including how to best leverage mobile device management technologies and using Cradlepoint routers to provide secure software-defined WAN connectivity.

As more workers learn to navigate in the WFH world, collaboration tools are going to be invaluable. CDW’s Mike Murphy, collaboration practice team lead, discussed how to be more collaborative in a WFH situation. His suggestions included how to get users more familiar with using their webconferencing tools and how to set up contact center agents to work remotely.

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