Security is on the agenda for every business, big or small. But in healthcare it’s at the top of the list. Healthcare organizations have a legal and moral responsibility to protect sensitive patient data, and they’re subject to strict regulatory and compliance mandates as well. This puts healthcare into a whole new level of lockdown these days. It makes sense – keeping personal information safe is really important, and what’s more personal than our medical records?

When it comes to secure WAN connectivity, MPLS has been the gold standard for healthcare organizations for years. It provides the ability to separate sensitive data from common operational data as it travels across the network. Using VLANs, healthcare organizations could then control where sensitive data went, and that’s a very good thing. But it looks as though time is finally catching up with MPLS. There is a new technology called SD-WAN that can segment traffic quickly and easily while providing several other security enhancements, too.

SD-WAN Means Better Healthcare Security

Using SD-WAN, data traffic can be segmented into highly-sensitive and financial information as well as bits and bytes of a more pedestrian kind. Private patient data such as medical records and imaging files can be put into the “HIPAA Class” for example, and routed through the network with the highest level of security. There’s no need to give the same treatment to the symptom searches in the waiting room that originates on the provider’s guest Wi-Fi network. That type of data can go into a “Common Class” designated for non-confidential information and travel routes via the usual means. Perhaps there’s a “PCI Class” for credit card data, which can be encrypted and routed directly to a payment processing provider.

Nearly all applications include some type of data protection, but SD-WAN takes it a step further by securing all traffic from end-to-end via encrypted tunnels between office locations. Healthcare IT staff can maintain communication confidentiality through these encrypted tunnels, improving the security posture of the entire organization. It’s kind of like having a private line between every one of your remote locations, but with the added benefits of being able to choose from a variety of physical links and provision new connections quickly and easily.

There’s another security benefit, too. SD-WAN gives you the ability to centralize how you deploy and manage WAN connectivity across your entire footprint. That means way faster patching and updates, and way fewer vulnerabilities.

Now is the Time

For healthcare organizations, the time feels right to break free from the constraints of outdated infrastructure and take the leap to what’s next in WAN technology. The speed, agility and flexibility of a software-defined network is appealing, but the added level of security should be a game-changer for healthcare IT.

Listen to Michael Payne, Cyber Security Solution Architect Lead, Blue Cross Blue Shield TN at our upcoming Cybersecurity Tech Summit. RSVP here.