IDG healthcare IT study: Convergence of network and security technologies enable efficient operations and orchestration

Avatar for Troy AmentBy Troy Ament|Jan 19, 2021|7:30 am CST

Healthcare IT and security teams continue to be challenged by unprecedented pressures. Today, existing and new healthcare digital transformation initiatives are impacting IT infrastructure like never before. For example, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and life sciences organizations implemented new technologies in 2020, enabling cloud platforms and SaaS applications for virtual doctor visits, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), workforce mobilization, and temporary facilities to care for COVID-19 patients.

The stress on healthcare organizations has continued to intensify during the 4th quarter of 2020 and in early 2021 due to increases in ransomware attacks. Hackers are targeting Integrated Health Systems, pharmaceutical companies, as well as companies working to address the challenges of manufacturing, distributing, and vaccinating billions of people globally with newly approved vaccines. These factors prompted Masergy and Fortinet to sponsor a survey of industry IT leaders across the healthcare ecosystem to better understand emerging security trends impacting them and their organizations.

The research, conducted by IDG, discovered that organizations are most concerned over cloud security, the security of medical connected devices, a remote and mobile workforce, and phishing/ransomware protection strategies. Holistically healthcare network security and resiliency remain the critical factor for organizations supporting existing technology and digital transformation.

Top trends and top-of-mind issues

1. Cloud and connected security challenge healthcare IT the most

Among the research participants, the emergence of Medical Connected Device Security (46%) and Cloud Security (46%) were recognized as the highest focus areas for organizations.

2. Nearly all leaders report increases in network traffic demands

Nearly all respondents (95%) reported an increase in network traffic and bandwidth demands since March 2020. Roughly 25% of organizations saw traffic increases of greater than 50%, while 46% of them reported increases of 25-49%.

3. Budgets are Increasing

The third trend the survey revealed is that healthcare executives have increased budgets to match the growing demands of digital transformation. Indeed, healthcare IT executives need to ensure that technology goals and governance are embedded into the strategies of their organizations to ensure alignment.

4. Converged Strategies are Preferred

Perhaps most notably, a unified approach–where network and security technologies are converged–helps healthcare IT teams create operational efficiencies and improve orchestration. The research study reveals the converged approaches leaders are taking as they enable digital care in 2021:

  • 71% consider it highly important to integrate network solutions with security policies
  • 60% indicate having a single security architecture delivering consistent security policies across multiple locations is highly important
  • 65% say integrating security with SD-WAN solutions is considered critical or highly important
  • 87% are interested or very interested in secure access service edge (SASE), converged offerings combining WAN capabilities with network security functions

The attack surface of healthcare organizations will continue to expand as remote and digital healthcare evolves. The most effective strategy is to ensure the network security fabric is secure foundationally. This will enable organizations to adhere to compliance requirements, reduce costs, and increase productivity. After all, IT operations are much more effective when the network reliability and security operate in an integrated manner.

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