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Healthcare Modernization? More Like Building the Plane While Flying It

Written by

Bridget Meuse

September 17, 2021

Bridget Meuse is a senior industry marketing analyst for Akamai. She focuses on three industries: Environmental Sustainability, Healthcare, and the Public Sector, where she identifies key trends, tells data-driven stories, and helps bring Akamai solutions to life for customers.


Anyone who works in business is likely familiar with the phrase, “Building the plane as you’re flying it.” And after the craziness of these past 18 months, I’m sure most of us are now intimately familiar with that expression.

From disrupting traditional working norms, to accelerating two years of digital transformation in two months, it's not beyond reason to say that no person or industry was left untouched by the pandemic.

We’ve become pilots and engineers overnight.

And while the pandemic forced this “adapt or die” mentality on every industry, few were as deeply affected as healthcare. Not only were healthcare entities building the plane while flying it, but they were also changing flight patterns, using different airports, and training new staff in the air. Healthcare companies figured out how to enable a remote workforce, give virtual care, and begin developing a vaccine, all within the span of weeks.

Celebrating some giant leaps in healthcare modernization

Let’s take a moment to celebrate this major move forward for healthcare. The industry took years of regulatory blockages, technical debt, and industry skepticism and turned it into care continuity for billions of people.

Healthcare transformation like this generally takes years. Lots of them.

This evolution would not have been possible without the internet. Telehealth visits, electronic health records (EHRs), connected wearables, better intellectual data sharing practices, and even artificial intelligence made the continuation of care possible, when 20 years ago, the world would have stopped right in its tracks.

And, although no fast and dirty solution is perfect (as many patients, researchers, and health employees would be quick to say), patients were still cared for, vaccines and drugs were still developed, and insurance premiums were still billed and paid. That is something to be proud of.

Healthcare has raised the bar; there’s no going back

Both staff and patients have come to expect enriched, secure online experiences that simplify and improve their daily lives, including

  • Online portals or telemedicine that connect doctors and patients for convenient medical care from anywhere, anytime

  • Remote access to vital information that staff and business partners need to do their jobs no matter where they are

  • Secure connection and protection from going to phishing or ransomware sites to ultimately protect patient data and intellectual property

What’s next? Balancing healthcare innovation and risk

As health entities evolve digitally, so do their risks. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, healthcare has weathered a 50% increase in cyberattacks since the onset of the pandemic, which made it the most expensive industry to weather an attack at $ 7.13 million per incident, according to research by IBM. Healthcare providers, in particular, are such attractive targets because EHRs can go for $1,000 each on the dark web, compared with credit card information for approximately $110 and Social Security numbers for a mere $1 apiece. That same IBM report states that the most common threat was ransomware, followed by data theft and server access.

And these aren’t the only challenges healthcare providers, insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers must navigate. While cybercriminals lurk in the background, there is a building pressure to make the quick-fix digital changes permanent, bringing healthcare into the 21st century. For example, a once-accepted tepidly responsive portal or lightly secured hospital network is now a key driver for operational inefficiencies and cost — and can present myriad risks.

This puts healthcare entities in a challenging situation. They must make their recent modernization strides for operational continuity and modern healthcare digitization permanent, while enhancing cybersecurity measures to protect soft and valuable targets (EHRs, IPs, and member info).

Akamai is behind the scenes helping healthcare organizations deliver exceptional digital experiences

For healthcare providers . . .

Moving to the cloud allows for the flexibility, accessibility, and speed that's required of modern healthcare providers. By shifting their infrastructure to the Akamai edge, healthcare providers unburden internal systems, increase protection from unsecured medical devices (think: BYOD), and provide that extra layer of security from other external partners (billing partners, HVAC systems, email providers, etc.). Akamai only allows the right people on their network in order to protect their patients’ valuable information and support continuity of care.

For health insurance payers. . .

When payers transfer their infrastructure to the Akamai edge and move experiences to APIs, they gain flexibility, cost management, protection from threats, and a streamlined and secure experience, not only for members but also for employees.

For pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies. . .

Pharmaceutical companies often come up against challenges that are similar to those of healthcare providers and insurance companies since they also have sensitive user data and intellectual property or user data that are integral to protect. In such a siloed industry, Akamai has helped to secure the pharmaceutical companies’ systems and staff by maintaining the notion of “verify, then trust” that’s synonymous with the SASE architecture.

Healthcare’s not-so-secret weapon

Every day, billions of people go online to find more, try more, and do more. Akamai helps make that possible.

Healthcare providers are building their 21st-century care plan(e) and Akamai is honored to help usher in this new online healthcare era with innovative ways to support care for patients and deliver successful health outcomes anywhere, anytime.

Read more about how Akamai can help power and secure healthcare modernization for your organization.

Written by

Bridget Meuse

September 17, 2021

Bridget Meuse is a senior industry marketing analyst for Akamai. She focuses on three industries: Environmental Sustainability, Healthcare, and the Public Sector, where she identifies key trends, tells data-driven stories, and helps bring Akamai solutions to life for customers.