Exploring flexible technology with Cheryl Rodenfels
A rapid shift to remote working was a monumental challenge for the world’s IT systems and infrastructure. Within a short timeframe, workers had to be set up, securely connected and ready to work from home.
At 2021’s Australian Healthcare Week, held at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), Chief Technology Officer of Americas Healthcare at Nutanix Cheryl Rodenfels spoke about funding innovation and some of the challenges we have faced over the last year. Rodenfels explained that hospital jobs — including non-clinical roles such as administrative roles or billing — have been designed to be conducted at the hospital, which proved to be a challenge when non-essential workers were ordered to work from home.
“Suddenly, staff that didn’t have to be in the hospital had to be set up with remote access — an enormous undertaking for IT teams,” Rodenfels said. “Configuring remote access for a huge part of the workforce presented all kinds of challenges, with no standard to follow and different devices, systems and connections requiring integration. Incompatibility, in particular, posed a significant challenge.”
Rodenfels explained that, when it comes to remote working, what businesses really need is a simulation of the office in the home so that staff can access all the resources they need to do their job. A flexible hybrid cloud model such as Nutanix allows staff to transition from site-based working to remote working, and vice versa, quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
In a shift in the patient–provider dynamic, patients are now viewed as customers, which drives demand for a better healthcare experience and service. Technology in the health space needs to be just as good as it is in other facets of life.
“With all the virtual activities that are taking place, it is more important than ever to make sure that the digital front door, your website, your patient portal, your scheduling — that all of those things work flawlessly to handle traffic and to give customers a seamless experience. Patients will be used to intuitive and smooth user experiences when they use their own devices, shop online, pay bills etc, so health care should be no different,” Rodenfels explained.
Data analytics technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning is allowing businesses, including healthcare providers, to harness data to impact outcomes.
“Data is more important than it ever was,” Rodenfels explained. “Harnessing data in the right way can have a positive impact on healthcare outcomes.”
Rodenfels gave the example of a breast cancer imaging group in the US, which used an analytics engine to analyse tagged data. Postcode tags were added to recorded breast cancer cases, allowing incidence of the disease to be mapped geographically. Data analysis revealed a high incidence of breast cancer in one particular postal code, and it turned out that the area did not have a breast imaging centre. The machine learning features of the technology saved weeks and months of time spent on data analysis, and a response to this information was actioned rapidly. The very next day, a mobile mammography facility was dispatched to the area, providing women with access to diagnostic imaging.
“This is an example where digital technology can impact health care in communities and save lives. With the right data source and the right recipe or algorithm to extrapolate that data, actions and resources can be targeted where they’re needed most. Harnessing the data is key — the right recipe is needed to manipulate the data to get results.”
Rodenfels highlighted that while the technology is an integral part of the story, factors such as governance and data integrity are also important. “An example we are seeing play out right now is the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Technology is being used to track vaccinations and report to government and vaccine manufacturers,” she said.
Rodenfels said that when redefining digital transformation strategies it is important to be flexible, and flexible infrastructure such as cloud operating models allow organisations to adapt quickly and effectively.
Aged-care provider Whiddon recently overhauled its IT infrastructure to create a platform that would help futureproof its business and tackle challenges head on. It is one of a number of companies and government agencies that have switched to hybrid cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure in efforts to increase efficiency and productivity while enhancing frontline customer services.
Primarily due to its efficiency, scalability and security, Whiddon selected Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure, which now runs all of Whiddon’s core applications, enabling scalability and integration. Processes that once required two hours have been reduced to about 30 seconds, helping to enable the IT team to focus on technical projects that can improve resident care, deploy modern applications new staff would expect and achieve greater business performance.
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