Security Experts:

As Healthcare Industry Transforms Overnight, Tech Community Must Act

The Technology Industry Must Come Together to Help Healthcare Meet the Challenges Sparked by he COVID-19 Outbreak

Today everyone is in Agile mode, but no one more so than the overburdened healthcare industry. 

We have seen images of doctors and nurses on the front lines, but there are heroic efforts happening behind the scenes too as hospitals and health systems innovate at warp speed to solve new logistical and data challenges. We are watching an entire industry undergo a decade of digital transformation in a matter of months.  

What is happening during this crisis will not just change the landscape in healthcare today—it will change the way that we deliver and experience healthcare forever. The impact will be felt for years if not decades. 

So it’s imperative that the technology industry come together to help healthcare meet this challenge, both to support the healthcare system when it’s needed most, as well as to ensure that new digital infrastructure is implemented the best possible way. 

We’ve seen factories quickly retool to produce PPE gear. Distilleries have quickly shifted to produce hand sanitizer. Less talked about is the technology that’s enabling healthcare itself to change its deeply embedded processes almost overnight. 

For consultations and checkups, remote services like Zoom, Slack, and Teams are standing in for many office visits. This will almost certainly remain a fixture of healthcare long after the pandemic.  

Applications are being developed and swiftly deployed for diagnosing, testing, and other services such as patient information tracking and billing support. 

There’s also been a surge of apps designed specifically for the epidemiology, tracking, and the government’s response to the pandemic, many of which would seek to incorporate unique patient identifiers, electronic health records, and geolocation data.  

Healthcare processes are designed around a strict chain of custody for this kind of sensitive patient data. What does that highly regulated chain of custody look like in a world where the majority of healthcare is delivered and accessed via apps, including apps that have been developed and deployed as quickly as possible?  

Given the situation, it is almost certain that we are generating a massive risk exposure. One risk to a single link in an application’s chain of custody has the potential to allow exploitation of the entire system. Even in a crisis, there will absolutely be people eager to exploit those risks for any number of reasons

As healthcare transforms, security pros will be vital in the process, to ensure that the new technologies and apps don’t open up new risks for healthcare providers moving so fast to save lives. The healthcare industry will need advanced security measures to identify and mitigate flaws in new apps carrying the world’s most sensitive, regulated information. 

Hospitals and healthcare systems also need support to increase and modernize their infrastructure overall. The broader tech industry can support healthcare with infrastructure, networking, cloud services, development, deployment, having the right devices—and do so at a time when the healthcare system’s resources are drastically constrained. 

Many companies have stepped up to this challenge. Offering grants. Offering services. Encouraging skilled employees to spend their volunteer hours supporting healthcare clients. Most of all, being there, not just for customers but for anyone who needs their skills and resources. 

At this time the tech industry must do whatever we can to remove the constraints and empower healthcare organizations. The tech industry must bring its resources and retool for this moment to provide software, professional services, support services, education, and the awareness to empower healthcare in a way we’ve never seen.

Related: US and UK Warn of Adversaries Targeting COVID-19 Responders

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Preston Hogue is Sr. Director of Security Marketing at F5 Networks and serves as a worldwide security evangelist for the company. Previously, he was a Security Product Manager at F5, specializing in network security Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). He joined F5 in 2010 as a Security Architect and was responsible for designing F5’s current Information Security Management System. Preston has a proven track record building out Information Security Management Systems with Security Service Oriented Architectures (SSOA), enabling enhanced integration, automation, and simplified management. Before joining F5, he was Director of information Security at social media provider Demand Media where he built out the information security team. Preston’s career began 18 years ago when he served as a security analyst performing operational security (OPSEC) audits for the U.S. Air Force. He currently holds CISSP, CISA, CISM, and CRISC security and professional certifications.