Healthcare institutions today are typically made up of many different clinics, offices and hospitals – all conveniently located wherever their patients are. And in today’s world of mobile devices and cloud-based data, sensitive information is traveling between them all. Physicians are using tablets to access patient records, caregivers are sending CT scans and X-rays to an online repository and patients are downloading appointment summaries from home. While we can all agree that better access to health-related data usually means better patient care, it can also open the door to increased security risk.

Convenience Isn’t Always Good for You

In this complex networked model, healthcare organizations have typically protected data at the branch office level, relying on localized firewalls and encryption tools to keep sensitive information safe. For every remote site a healthcare organization maintains, a security platform of some kind has likely been deployed. These solutions may all be the same, but more likely, they’re a mixed bag.

Managing multiple security configurations can leave branch offices (and the parent organization) exposed to vulnerabilities. Imagine how difficult it would be to patch the firewall software and update the encryption protocols for 50 locations, especially when half of them are on one type of platform and half are on another? It’s a tough task, and all that complexity means it’s difficult to tell where your vulnerabilities live, and nearly impossible to secure. But here’s the good news: SD-WAN can help unify how security is implemented and managed across your remote locations – and strengthen your overall defenses in the process.

A Centralized Approach is the Cure

As you may know, SD-WAN is a software defined infrastructure technology that has a ton of benefits on the connectivity side. It lets you use a mix of WAN technologies, even 4G LTE or Wi-Fi, so it can lower WAN costs quite a bit over MPLS. It can steer traffic to the best possible link to meet your performance needs and keep your business moving. And a good SD-WAN platform can even provision itself, saving you a lot of configuration time. But when it comes to security, there’s an added bonus.

SD-WAN brings a centralized approach to managing security across branch offices using Network Function Virtualization (NFV). By enabling NFV, SD-WAN you can manage the implementation of specific network functions such as routing, firewalling and intrusion prevention as virtual services. With this centralized approach, you can govern policy management and enforcement across every location – as one.

This centralized approach to WAN security can truly simplify how you protect sensitive data as it gets where it’s going. You can monitor and regulate traffic from all locations to the corporate data center. You can establish encrypted tunnels between branch offices, and even split them for added security. And with the granular insight SD-WAN enables, when your next compliance audit rolls around, you can easily demonstrate that sensitive patient data remained under your control the whole time. All from the confines of the corporate NOC. Think about that next time you have to send someone to update the firewall software at a remote facility.