Many healthcare providers are facing unprecedented challenges in delivering care right now. IT support is key, especially for smaller hospitals and healthcare providers as they 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 leaders are doing to prepare for business disruptions as a result of the current health crisis. This discussion featured health system directors, along with practice leads from CDW Healthcare.

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How IT Supports Hospital 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. He also touched on how organizations can prepare for the next wave of patients, including video-based patient rounds and the necessity of converting space and equipment to accommodate more ICU beds.

Clark Averill, director of information technology at St. Luke’s Hospital of Duluth, shared his experience of preparing for much of the hospital’s nonessential staff to work from home, relying on virtual desktop infrastructure to make it happen. He also spoke to some of the challenges he has faced in getting call center staff set up and increasing telemedicine adoption among the staff and patients.

Trevor Clere, director of information systems at Wooster Community Hospital Health System, discussed some of the projects his IT team has been working on including implementing a new badge access system to help secure hospital entry, constructing a new command center and implementing Zoom videoconferencing to support communications among the operations teams and for personnel to conduct patient visits. With many nonessential workers now working from home, Clere described the bullet list his IT team developed for workers that detailed the technical specifications that were needed for them to work from home on their own devices.

Speaking to Clere’s mention of a bullet list of technical specifications needed to support work from home, Remy Morgan, a senior inside solution architect focused on mobility, mentioned the value of using Apple- and Windows-based devices to help quickly stand up work from home staff. The stressed the value that mobile device management (MDM) brings to the table in the need to quickly deploy a secure work environment.

Best Practices for Collaboration, Securing Deployment

Mike Murphy, a team lead in CDW’s collaboration practice, talked about the different considerations for equipping work from home staff, including call center workers. He mentioned the need to be mindful regarding licensing tied to the different meeting and communications platforms.

With so many workers working remotely on new systems, CDW’s Jeremy Weiss, team lead for the security solutions practice, made it clear that cybercriminals were out there and taking advantage of the confusion and new processes to target healthcare workers. He suggested that organizations take advantage of as many cloud and virtual-based security tools as they could to help quickly secure the new work from home environment that everyone is building.

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