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Why Telehealth is Here to Stay and How it Improves Healthcare Quality

By Henry Silvas and Harsha Kotikela

COVID-19 has completely changed the way we live and work, and most notably, how we receive healthcare. Before the pandemic, an estimated 66% of American consumers were already using personal health monitoring devices and were willing to use telehealth. Since then, many were forced to use telehealth technology to complete provider visits and diagnose illnesses as hospitals, clinics, and health departments implemented physical visit restrictions for non-life threatening care. As one example, Delaware Valley Community Health leveraged Nutanix technologies to enable 75% of it’s healthcare workers to work remotely and served more than 2,500 patients virtually in March 2020 alone thanks to telework and telehealth strategies.

Post-COVID-19, there are three critical reasons why State & Local health departments should prioritize telehealth. First, the prioritization of telehealth would allow more patients outside of major care delivery systems and more urban patients constrained by time and congestion to access care amidst the growing U.S. physician shortage.  Second, clinicians would experience improved clinical workflows and increased efficiency, as telehealth visits take up to 90% less  time as in-person visits, leading to increased revenue. Finally, telehealth has been shown to improve the quality of healthcare, especially for patients in rural settings, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Business & IT Challenges with Telehealth Implementation

While the benefits of implementing telehealth solutions may seem apparent, they come with new business and IT challenges to healthcare organizations. To serve patient communities through telehealth, healthcare organizations throughout the continuum of care are having to overhaul IT infrastructure, processes, and train healthcare workers--all of which can be extremely costly. As healthcare entities digitally transform their infrastructure, databases, and applications, they become even more vulnerable.

  • Security and compliance.  Electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical imaging have replaced traditional paper and film. As more patients are treated virtually, there is increased risk of personally identifiable information (PII) being compromised through cyber attacks. Healthcare IT must protect sensitive patient data while retaining records for the lifetime of the patient and beyond. Data security, data protection, and long-term retention are therefore core requirements, as mandated by regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH in the United States and similar regulations in many other countries. The safeguards cover clinical applications such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, EHRs, radiology, pharmacy, laboratory systems, and more.
  • Resource constraints.  Healthcare IT teams are constrained by extremely tight budgets, headcount limits, and small facilities. The key priorities are consolidating and simplifying management of the infrastructure.
  • Mobility.  Healthcare workers are becoming more mobile and must be able to access and update patient records and other clinical, financial, and back-office data quickly and securely from anywhere. Increasing clinician productivity by accelerating logins, application access, and patient data entry can have an immediate impact on the bottom line as well as clinician satisfaction.
  • Silos and low utilization.  Silos of IT infrastructure used to meet unique application demands drive up direct capital costs, and, as it is impossible to share resources across silos, utilization is often low. These inefficiencies cause healthcare IT organizations to have more hardware to get the job done, which means more time spent managing and maintaining that hardware.
  • Scalability.  Many healthcare organizations experience significant difficulties when scaling important applications such as EHR or PACS/VNA. Infrastructure that works for a small pilot project or proof of concept (POC) may not scale well, resulting in implementation delays, poor performance, unhappy users, and unexpected costs.
  • Availability. Critical healthcare applications and data must be available at all times. Legacy data protection and disaster recovery (DR) solutions have failed to adapt to the needs of modern virtualized applications and infrastructure.

How Nutanix Can Help

Healthcare organizations are looking for the best ways to take advantage of public cloud resources to reduce costs and increase agility. Whether you are backing up to the cloud, using it for DR, or moving applications into it, infrastructure decisions must be made with the cloud in mind. Nutanix is the right technology partner to help ensure you reap the benefits of telehealth for the communities that you serve, all while helping to meet healthcare regulations and stave off ransomware attacks on critical patient and financial data.

As a Nutanix customer, you will be able to help secure your organization’s IT operations and protect client health data throughout the entire patient and clinician telehealth journey (see high-level Telehealth Tech figure below). 

Telehealth Tech Journey

We take a security-first approach with built-in defense-in-depth features, including data-at-rest encryption. We can help secure patient data and automate compliance with regulatory policies including  HIPAA, GDPR, and HITECH.

  • Strong infrastructure.  Nutanix significantly reduces the need for separate silos of infrastructure, decreasing complexity, and increasing utilization. Nutanix healthcare customers typically support diverse workloads—including EHR, clinical imaging, and PACS/VNA, as well as clinical and business applications—often deploying Nutanix in multiple datacenters to take best advantage of integrated data protection and DR.  Nutanix software is security-hardened by default, making it a good fit for healthcare where data security is always a top priority. Nutanix utilizes the principle of least privilege and delivers a true defense-in-depth model, with a custom security baseline that exceeds the requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Cybersecurity.  Data protection and DR for EHR and PACS/VNA deployments are essential to ensure that critical patient data is always available. Nutanix improves data protection by simplifying and consolidating infrastructure and providing efficient data services to address data protection and DR needs. In many instances, data protection and DR can be provisioned without requiring third-party solutions that add expense and complexity. However, Nutanix offers full integration for leading solution providers if you already have a solution in place, or if your EHR or PACS/VNA systems have specific requirements or limitations.

To learn more, visit our State and Local solutions page and these Nutanix healthcare customer case studies:

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