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Is Data center colocation a viable option for the Healthcare sector?


Author : Nitin Mishra
Date : May 02, 2016
Category : Datacenter

The healthcare sector is on a roll today with breakthroughs in modern medicine including earlier detection of potential diseases, new procedures and new ways of treatment. With technology playing a greater role in these achievements, the amalgamation of technology with social media and big data analytics is bound to change the shape of the healthcare sector and treatment techniques.

However, in all these new inventions, detections, medicines and development of modern treatment techniques, Healthcare IT - the underlying IT infrastructure, is often overlooked. Healthcare IT, essentially Electronic Medical Records (EMR), is a crucial piece of information that augments the quality of healthcare delivery, reduces the incidences of medical errors and bolsters the connection between the patients and healthcare providers.

Healthcare IT professionals can significantly improve the quality of healthcare and patient experience by leveraging robust, reliable and scalable EMR systems. Along with delivering EMR systems that can adapt to the changing needs of healthcare organizations, the IT department is constantly under pressure to control costs, fulfill regulatory compliance and deploy efficient solutions to enable the sector to make further advances in medical treatment.

With an explosive growth in medical data and the need for a robust IT infrastructure to support this growth, it is prudent for healthcare organizations to outsource their data center operationsto a Managed IT services provider. A Managed services provider with own data center facilities can help you    reduce costs, adhere to compliance guidelines, improve efficiency and productivity, provide innovative services offering (e.g. storage on demand) and help you adopt a strategic and well-coordinated approach to delivering IT services.

The social and mobility driven consumer behavior demands that healthcare organizations leverage Internet to communicate with users and provide web based / app based access.   With the growth in mobile applications and big data and an increasing number of clinicians using the EMR systems, it becomes imperative for healthcare organizations to address the IT challenges facing them. These include:

Burgeoning Growth In Data

The tremendous growth in information and data is not just limited to the sheer capacity but also in different data types and applications. Healthcare organizations, no doubt, have to continuously invest in new systems and technologies for meeting the demands of storage of this data and information. This leads to an increase in IT costs and investments for expansion of their in-house datacenters.

More Pressure On IT Infrastructure For Improving Quality Of Healthcare

With the growth in healthcare technology, clinicians/doctors increasingly use patient’s past historical data to predict diseases and prevent the onset of illness. This has led to an improvement in patient care but increased the pressure on the underlying IT infrastructure to manage the increasing flow of information.

Industry Consolidation

The healthcare industry is undergoing a state of transformation and consolidation. Consolidation in the industry leads to acquiring data centers with disparate systems, processes and technologies that could be an IT department’s worst nightmare. These disparate systems have to be integrated with the acquiring company’s existing IT infrastructure. At times, it may require a complete revamp of the existing legacy infrastructure to make way for new technologies that integrate with each other and also adhere to the guidelines laid down for information management, governance and compliance.

Information Management And Governance

Most healthcare organizations have a disparate system for managing information, which essentially means that they have their data stored in multiple formats across multiple systems. This data is critical as it contains healthcare information and patient records. The IT department in healthcare organizations have to organize this data and keep it secure as any loss of data could lead to a breach in the quality of patient care.

Deployment Of New Technologies For Improving Quality

In order to improve on the delivery of healthcare services, the IT departments have to make conscious decisions about the investments to be made in technology and new architectures. These investments in new and sophisticated systems are crucial for providing quality patient care by reducing manual errors. They are also critical from the perspective of enhancing performance, reliability, security and cost efficiency of existing infrastructure for delivering world-class services.

Having a distributed model for information management can lead to an adverse impact on a healthcare organization’s ability to adhere to the guidelines for information governance and can increase the possibility of a security or privacy breach. Moreover, it could lead to errors in reporting that can put the organization at legal and audit risk.

In the wake of these challenges, more and more healthcare IT organizations are considering outsourcing their IT infrastructures to a data center colocation service provider. The reasons are many:

  • Managing a data center may not be a core competency with many healthcare organizations;
  • With an increased pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency, data centers become very expensive to manage in-house;
  • With the advancements in data center technology, hiring experienced professionals to manage the IT infrastructure internally has always been a challenge;
  • Reduced total cost of ownership when hosted with a data center service provider

By adopting a service-oriented approach to data center colocation, healthcare organizations can benefit from colocation services that include a gamut of comprehensive solutions and expertise supporting their management and operations. These can include data migration, disaster recovery, backup and storage, asset tracking and disposition, offsite tape vaulting etc. Working with an experienced data center colocation provider can ease the initial hurdles in colocating the IT infrastructure at the provider’s facility. The healthcare organizations can benefit from the experience that the colocation service provider has in managing the infrastructure and their policies in adhering to the stringent compliance and regulatory guidelines. Round the clock support and regular upgrades and updates to the infrastructure can enable a healthcare organization to reduce costs, improve productivity, strengthen compliance preparedness and develop a more strategic and coordinated approach to delivering IT services.

Author : Nitin Mishra

Nitin Mishra heads the product management and solutions engineering functions at Netmagic Solutions. During his nine years with the company, he has been responsible for conceptualizing and packaging hosting and managed services focused on IT infrastructure requirements of Internet and Enterprise applications.