Computers, the Internet, and other modern technological breakthroughs have all had a massive impact on healthcare. Quite simply, people today enjoy far better healthcare than people had access to a hundred years ago. Improvements in healthcare go far beyond software, which didn’t even exist until more recent decades, but software certainly helped to fuel the evolution of healthcare. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best software solutions for medical facilities right now.
Head to the hospital today and you’ll find modern equipment that most people a hundred years ago never could have dreamed of. You might find MCAT machines, robots that can perform simple surgeries, and laser procedures that can reshape eyes. Many if not most of these machines rely on software to operate. Quite literally, the software is often the ghost in our machines and thus in our healthcare system.
Software solutions can be flexible, low-cost, reliable, and a major boon overall. However, not every software solution is created equally. For one, some companies simply produce better software than others. On top of that, a specific hospital will have its own particular needs. What one facility needs, another might not. Before selecting any particular software solution, it’s important to examine needs.
We’re going to take a look at some of the best software platforms and security solutions that everyone should pay attention to. The list below is, of course, far from exhaustive. In medicine, an inclusive approach to healthcare and carefully studying the needs and conditions of every patient can improve outcomes.
The same is true in the hospital IT department: a holistic approach that considers the needs of individual organizations, their staff (including doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners), and patients, among other stakeholders, will be better positioned to excel.
Up-to-date software is the Best Software
We’ll get into the specifics in a moment, but first, it’s crucial to point out just how important up-to-date software is. You can buy the best software tools in the world, but if you don’t keep them up to date, they will be much more vulnerable. Thus, the best software for a hospital (or any organization, for that matter) is arguably up-to-date software.
If you happen to like tech or know people who like tech, you may have met some people will very strong opinions regarding operating systems. We’re not here to settle or even jump into that debate. Whatever operating system you choose, just make sure that it’s regularly updated and that all the recommended security patches are installed.
Arguably, the worst operating system is any system out of date. Ditto for any other type of software.
SaaS Makes Keeping Stuff Updated Easy
Don’t want to have to update software on a regular basis? Is your IT staff already short on labor power? If updates seem like a burden or potential security gap that could leave your company vulnerable, it’s wise to consider SaaS solutions.
Often, with Software-as-a-Servce (SaaS), you won’t need to update the tools. Instead, the provider maintains them for you. This is because the software being served is actually running on an external server rather than your personal computer. The service providers or their partners will maintain the servers and software, and thus they will make sure that the software is up to date.
Make Sure Access Control is Properly Accounted For
If you walk up to the average American home and try to open the front door, there’s a good chance that you’ll find it locked. This should come as no surprise. A locked door can discourage criminals, helping keep property and people safe, among other things.
A locked front door is a simple type of access control, and simple locks can greatly increase security at private residencies. Locked doors aren’t enough, on their own, to provide security at a hospital. With so many people coming in and out of a hospital each day, nuanced access control is crucial.
A patient needs to be able to access the emergency room, lobbies, and similar spaces. A cleaning crew may need to access a nurse’s station on the 4th floor to clean up a spill. In both cases, neither party needs to have access to the many medical files stored by hospitals (often digitally). Likewise, a nurse in the ER may not need access to medical records for patients in the outpatient surgery ward.
Access control is crucial for many organizations and can be especially complex in medical settings. Fortunately, the right tools, like the various Identity and Access Management solutions provided by companies such as Tools4Ever, not only increase security but also make security easier to achieve.
Secure Communication Tools
One of the most common tools in the scammer’s toolbox is text messages. Rather than even wasting their time calling people to rip them off, criminals these days are simply sending out texts to see if anyone will bite. Emails are another favorite tool as well. Some scammers still make calls, of course, while some prefer email. Unsurprisingly, many people now are wary of communications, especially if they are from unknown contacts.
Meanwhile, hospitals and doctors may need to communicate with their patients. A doctor might simply want to check in or may decide to offer some additional advice, for example. If a hospital or medical practitioner needs to get in touch with patients, they will want to make sure that they have a secure way of doing so. Some apps and other solutions make secure communication with patients easier.
It’s also important to ensure that hackers can’t get into your email, text, or other systems to communicate with patients. Consider that a hacker might gain access to your email campaign manager, and then they could send out emails claiming that patients forgot to pay a bill or copay.
A Robust Fire Wall
The old saying “fight fire with fire” may not have much use in the modern medical setting. That said, tried and true firewalls certainly do have a place in hospitals, clinics, and other facilities. While firewalls are far from foolproof, they are still quite effective.
A firewall will scan any data coming into your local networks and hardware. Some firewalls also scan outgoing data to slow or stop the spread of malicious code. Ultimately, prevention is just as crucial for cybersecurity as it is for health, and firewalls are the first line of defense.
A Complete Antivirus/Malware Suite
Unfortunately, even with up-to-date software and operating systems, your PCs, servers, and other computers will still be vulnerable to hacking. So far, there’s no completely secure solution to IT security. Several IT security companies offer robust anti-virus and malware tools that will, among other things, scan your computers and files, watching for signs of malicious code.
Once the malicious code is identified, your IT department will stand a better chance of successfully mitigating it. It may also be possible to stop the spread of malicious software through your systems. If a personal computer becomes infected but the spread stops there, the damage will be less than if the malicious software got into a hospital network.
Don’t Forget Productivity Software
The fact is, human error is responsible for more cybercrime than any other factor. Someone might be tired after a long day at work, say a doctor, when an email shows up in their inbox, claiming that it’s the IT department. The “helpful” person from IT simply needs the doctor’s password and login credentials to fix the issue. Unfortunately, at least in some cases, the person looking for credentials is actually a criminal “fishing” for login information.
Phishing campaigns, in which a criminal pretends to be an authority, such as a government agent or company IT department, are still a favorite tool because they are highly effective. The same is true for other types of so-called “social engineering” that target people, hoping that they slip up.
At the end of the day, the human element of cybersecurity can never be ignored. By using the right productivity software and increasing productivity, you may be able to reduce burdens, thus freeing up time and focus so people can pay attention to if not focus on cybersecurity.
Consider Artificial Intelligence Enabled Tools
Artificial Intelligence has emerged as one of the most popular topics in 2023, with people in essentially every industry wondering how AI might impact business as usual. AI is almost certainly going to have a major impact on many if not most industries, including healthcare.
Generally speaking, artificial intelligence is being integrated into existing tools and concepts. For example, you might set up an anti-virus/malware suite that scans for malicious code. The thing is, even with a great anti-virus and malware suite, you could end up getting a lot of red flags that turn out to be false. When it comes time to sort through those red flags, you could quickly find yourself overwhelmed.
With the right AI tools, it might be possible to automatically scan the red flags that are popping up. Then, the AI program can prioritize the biggest risks. Ideally, your IT or security department will have the time and resources to go through every red flag. Yet at times, they may have to perform triage, emphasizing the highest risks.
Of course, AI is no replacement for humans, especially in security. Ultimately, hospitals and other organizations should develop a multi-faceted approach to security, with AI, IAM solutions, and other tools being brought to bear.