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Why backend IT is crucial in the fight against COVID-19

May 04, 2020
Health IT
Roger Sands
By Roger Sands

The coronavirus is a threat that is impacting hospitals’ wired and wireless networks in a very real way. As hospitals deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are facing fast-paced changes on all sides. Some are ramping up telemedicine, preparing for a surge in telework, and/or shuffling around network connected equipment as rooms and entire floors are rearranged and repurposed to best support the health of all patients and employees. For each of these initiatives to be successful, a hospital must have a reliable and secure WiFi network.

Without these networks, there is no telework or telemedicine, medical IoT devices will no longer provide key analytics, and care coordination within departments or across hospitals becomes increasingly difficult. These networks are a mission-critical resource, and they will not operate without the proper back-end infrastructure in place. In order to secure your entire network, take these steps to optimize and protect your infrastructure.

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Physical security
Your servers are the backbone of your network. They store all sensitive data and must be safeguarded and protected from tampering. Keep servers in a locked room with controlled access. Within that room, all servers, firewalls, switches, and network panels should be kept in a locked rack. This minimizes the risk that someone malicious could access the server and steal sensitive data.

In addition, facilities should include advanced security solutions such as:
● Web-based cameras
● Video surveillance
● AI-driven visitor analytics

Surveillance should be set up both outside and inside the room, and systems should note who accessed the room, when they accessed it, and why they accessed it. You can also use badges and ID cards to record access, and require everyone to record details in a log book. Remember though that physical access cards and books can be stolen. It’s best to have a digital, visual record at all times. Web-based cameras and AI-analytics are especially useful when IT teams are not on the premises, whether that is during off-hours, or because teams are responsible for multiple facilities and are often required to work remotely. Security is paramount and professionals should have access to real-time updates and alerts no matter whether they are on-premise or not.

Bring your own device (BYOD)
It isn’t enough to optimize a network based only on the expected number of medical devices that will connect. Hospitals must also consider personal devices. Whether a hospital allows employees to bring their own devices or not, you can guarantee that patients and guests will have at least one, if not more, personal devices on them when they enter the facility. If a network isn’t designed to deal with the load, these devices can put excessive strain on it, causing medical users to experience lags and downtime due to the congestion. For healthcare professionals depending on real-time vitals updates and monitoring from IoT devices, or who are meeting with a patient virtually, these disruptions can have severe negative impacts.

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