The Collaborative Healthcare Organization
Over the past few years, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions have seen a remarkable increase in use and popularity across the healthcare industry. According to Gartner, SaaS is the largest market segment among public cloud services and is poised to grow from $101 billion in 2020 to $138 billion in 2022.1 It makes sense: Instead of worrying about on-prem installations, SaaS promises to provide care teams and administrators with access to data and applications — anytime, anywhere and on any device.
The pandemic certainly put that promise to the test. Almost overnight, healthcare environments ranging from small clinics to massive hospitals were closed to the public as healthcare providers endeavored to stop the spread of the virus, keep patients and employees safe, and preserve PPE. Caregivers had to use their home networks and, in many cases, home devices to connect to patients. Even within hospitals, it was imperative to find safer ways to meet with patients to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a result, healthcare IT leaders needed to find a new way to help their doctors and patients continue to connect — and quickly.
While many organizations already had online collaboration platforms, healthcare was still largely an in-person experience before the pandemic. Once strict guidelines around person-to-person contact went into effect, IT leaders quickly learned that while SaaS-based meeting and collaboration solutions could help facilitate clinician-patient and care team interactions, they are not without their challenges, such as user experience, security and identity validation, particularly when it comes to protecting private patient information. In addition, IT often found it difficult to integrate its many SaaS collaboration and conferencing solutions with each other and with other platforms.
Preparing for Hybrid Healthcare
With the healthcare environment returning to normal, it’s a good time for IT to reassess the SaaS solutions put in place during the pandemic. IT needs to ensure that the benefits provided during the pandemic can be extended and optimized to improve care delivery and protect patient data under any circumstances.
Before the pandemic, a hospital’s IT infrastructure was built assuming most care and internal meetings happen in person. If a specialist connected with an on-site physician to discuss a patient, that often happened over the phone or as a single video stream accessed by a video conferencing tool.
Post-pandemic, we will likely see a more hybrid healthcare environment where physicians and administrators have some flexibility to work from home, at least occasionally. Even within hospitals and clinics, care teams who may work out of several different facilities will find it valuable to use collaboration solutions to meet and share information with one another. In hospitals, nurses and doctors will continue to use screens in patients’ rooms to check in via video, with the ability to share scans and other images. With any of these uses, and no matter where meeting participants are logging in from, the need to keep patient data protected is paramount.
Rather than transmitting content and video to the cloud, the Intel Unite® solution downloads that stream once to a hub computer running Windows 10 and an Intel® Core™ i5 or higher processor, which serves as the session host. The hub then sends the stream wirelessly across your own HIPAA-compliant internal network, which doesn’t just keep sensitive data behind your firewall but helps reduce bandwidth and improve performance. Application-layer encryption also helps safeguard shared content and files, even when remote users are joining via the video conference.
Achieve SaaS Benefits with a Hybrid Approach
The Intel Unite solution can help you achieve the full promise and benefits of SaaS collaboration platforms without sacrificing security, clogging your network or hindering your user experience. It employs both your cloud-based applications and your on-premises network to create a hybrid cloud to transmit data in a safer and more effective way.
This hybrid approach enables an intelligent architecture that offers both the best of SaaS and on-prem in the most efficient way possible. It provides all the benefits of LAN speed by communicating directly when appropriate, while also freeing IT from having to manage extra infrastructure that can be better delivered through the cloud.
The Intel Unite solution isn’t a replacement for technology designed specifically for consumer and acute telemedicine but rather a supplement for enhanced team collaboration and clinician-patient in-person information sharing. It can also be used for remote in-room monitoring where nurses or doctors can communicate with patients quickly and without donning and doffing PPE.
Now is the time to look at your collaboration tools to see if they meet the needs of caregivers and patients, as well as data security, regulatory and IT management requirements. With technology like the Intel Unite solution, featuring a hybrid infrastructure, built-in security and a simplified user experience, you can meet all the needs of a modern healthcare organization.