Jun 27 2023

3 Strategies for Securing Digital Healthcare Devices at the Edge

As virtual care programs continue to grow, healthcare organizations must keep security at the forefront.

The adoption of remote healthcare is continuing its meteoric rise. The U.S. telehealth market is expected to reach $309.9 billion by 2030. And hospital environments are growing increasingly complex as the Internet of Medical Things becomes more mainstream.

These aspects pose new challenges for healthcare IT professionals who must manage and secure medical devices and critical data at the network’s edge. How can they navigate such issues? Here are three edge computing strategies to ensure IoMT devices work correctly and securely.

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1. Treat Telehealth Like Any Enterprise IT System

As telehealth services and remote health monitoring grow, IT teams must treat each edge devices, including wearables and implanted devices, and their supporting infrastructure as they would any other enterprise IT system.

With any technology implementation, a strategy is essential. Remember that edge devices are the responsibility of the healthcare IT department, not the cloud provider, and the performance of these devices can seriously impact care delivery.

For this reason, devices must be monitored and managed 24/7. Any strategy should include details about compliance, security and configuration management.

Document everything thoroughly (choose a tool offering automatic discovery and mapping for a holistic understanding of all IoMT assets at the edge of the network). Then, whenever possible, standardize to ensure consistency and make edge device management easier.

DISCOVER: How to accelerate strategies around Internet of Medical Things devices.

2. Improve Observability of Medical Devices

Keeping devices connected requires powerful network management capabilities to monitor and analyze network performance, track and automate configuration management, and more. But the decentralized nature of edge devices creates significant visibility challenges.

One option is to throw more monitoring and management tools at the problem, but this approach can quickly become counterproductive. As they switch between tools and dashboards, network operations teams can find themselves drowning in a sea of alerts.

Moreover, the massive amount of data these disparate tools generate can make it challenging to determine where the problem is. It’s easy to blame one component within the infrastructure when the issue may be a symptom of a more serious breakdown elsewhere.

This is why it’s critical to have strategies in place designed to simplify monitoring and management. One approach is to use artificial intelligence- and machine learning-powered observability. Observing the entire hybrid infrastructure within a single pane of glass gives IT managers a significant advantage in achieving well-performing and resilient remote healthcare.

An important benefit of observability is that it automatically prioritizes and surfaces real problems, whether they’re at the edge; in the cloud; or within web applications, networks or databases. This way, IT pros can make more informed decisions.

John Wilson
Having more medical devices at the edge also means more data, networks, apps and infrastructure that healthcare IT teams must secure.”

John Wilson Director of Sales for State, Local and Education and Healthcare, SolarWinds

3. Strengthen Security All the Way to the Edge

Having more medical devices at the edge also means more data, networks, apps and infrastructure that healthcare IT teams must secure.

As part of the security strategy, the IT department must ensure all data is encrypted and employ automated patch management. Automatic push update software can keep the software current and promptly address vulnerabilities.

Also, to quickly detect and analyze threats before they cause any harm, a security information and event management solution is a good option for protecting critical networks and data centers. Modern SIEM solutions also facilitate continuous monitoring, providing a nearly real-time picture of the enterprise’s security risk posture. This is especially important when it comes to edge computing devices, which are often left unprotected.

There’s no question edge computing offers healthcare providers and patients many benefits, but IT staffers must approach it with their eyes wide open.

READ MORE: Learn the answers to five questions about securing the Internet of Medical Things.

Digital Health at the Edge Can Be Transformative When Optimized

IT leaders must develop plans for monitoring the large number of endpoints and volume of data advancements that edge computing will bring. These plans must also be flexible when the network expands and fragments as new use cases for digital health at the edge come online. It will be challenging, but it can be a game changer for healthcare if done correctly.

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