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5 Steps to Create Agile Data Center For Healthcare

The modern healthcare data center is changing dramatically, from an “inside the walls” operation to an “outside the walls” operation. Over the next 10 years it is likely that this transition will continue to accelerate as both hospitals and data centers adapt to the challenges of evolving technology, increasing financial pressures and changing healthcare models. Hospitals that proactively prepare their data center now to adapt to these transformations will be more likely to stay financially solvent and able to continue to provide quality patient care.

5 Steps to Take to Create an Agile Healthcare Data Center
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CHANGING DATA MODELS

Previously, the majority of a hospital’s data came from hospitals and providers within a given healthcare system. Software and tools used by providers and staff were installed on the healthcare system’s secure network, accessible only by authorized employees. Additionally, most of the data was entered through computers owned by the healthcare system and used on hospital property.

Fast forward to today, and data is coming into the data center directly from patients through patient portals, from mobile devices and even via remote monitoring systems. Many providers even enter patient data on personal devices through a BYOD policy. Data is processed and analyzed using SaaS programs through external providers, and data is often backed up in the cloud. The result is there are many new benefits, along with many new challenges to address. Managing and protecting information in this new world, both in a clinical and enterprise environment, requires healthcare organizations to adopt a holistic approach designed to be technology-independent.

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SHIFTING YOUR MINDSET

A key component of a holistic data strategy is transitioning from a traditional data center to an agile, cloud-based center with the tools, infrastructure and processes ready to handle today’s large amount of information flow, as well as respond to changes that happen in the future. However, this shift requires considerable focus, effort and a mindset shift from healthcare system leadership.

In addition to being able to adapt quickly to future healthcare developments, agile data centers provide concrete benefits from the beginning. By storing and processing the majority of their data and tools in the cloud, healthcare systems can save considerable money over traditional data centers. Additionally, agile data centers typically require less investments for hardware as they’re more likely to embrace new approaches such as a BYOD policy, use of patient devices, and their reliance on cloud computing reduces overhead costs.

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ROADMAP TO AGILITY

Here are five steps to help your healthcare system transition from a traditional data center to an agile data center:

ONE: SECURE YOUR DATA AND NETWORK

If your data and network are not secure, the agility of your data center is irrelevant. With a Ponemon study finding that the cost of a breach has risen to more than $3.62 million per incident,3 data breaches can be catastrophic. Even more importantly, a data breach causes patients to lose trust in your organization and damages your hospital's reputation. A solid security plan includes securing the endpoints, firewalls and cloud-based data backup.

TWO: MIGRATE YOUR DATA

The next step is moving your data from traditional server based storage to a cloud-based virtual environment. Since each data center is unique, it’s essential to create a migration plan before beginning the process of detailing the steps and contingencies. HIT Infrastructure magazine4 breaks the process down into five steps: data security, licensing costs, data accessibility, duplicating the environment and reduplication/completion.

THREE: ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY

Your data is only valuable if all providers who need access can easily get to the data. A CHIME study found that 36 percent of respondents said providers found arduous the process for clinicians to access past medical images.5 As Internet Data Management magazine notes, this issue becomes increasingly important as telemedicine becomes more prevalent.6 The recent Research and Markets Global Telemedicine Market Analysis & Trend report predicts the telemedicine market will grow 16.3 percent each year to reach $78.3 billion by 2025.7 With this rapid growth expected, one of the challenges healthcare organizations face is that access to medical information, including patient data and laboratory reports, must always be accessible from remote locations and clinics to provide a seamless telemedicine experience for patients and providers.

Since images are one of the largest sources of healthcare data, it’s essential that all providers can quickly access images to make accurate and timely care-related decisions. Vendor neutral archive (VNA) solutions enable providers to view images and provider notes, regardless of the technology or vendor, which creates a seamless view of a patient’s medical history.

FOUR: GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER FOR DATA ANALYTICS

By harnessing patient data, your healthcare organization can stay competitive and continue to deliver quality care. A data centered approach to care also helps facilitate the transition to value-based care and precision medicine. If your data exists in data silos, then providers are not able to get a full patient view and effectively use the data to improve the quality of care being delivered. Instead, the resulting analytics may be incorrect.

As part of becoming an agile data center, healthcare organizations must make disparate data sources interchangeable across different platforms. It is also essential to develop strong data management policies to ensure consistent analytic output. When multiple copies of the same data are created, storage and infrastructure costs increase. Most importantly, data is not available to support critical clinical and strategic business decisions.

FIVE: CONSIDER REPORTING CAPABILITIES

Reporting functionality has become increasingly important as healthcare systems have become reliant on data and data analytics. However, reports are only as accurate as the data provided. When data silos exist in your data center, the resulting reports are also siloed and can provide inaccurate results. It’s essential for agile data centers to use a unified data strategy so reports analyze all data, not just a portion of it.

It’s impossible to exactly predict the future of technology and processes for healthcare. The only given is that changes will occur and new technologies will be developed. Healthcare systems that attempt to design a data center for what they expect to happen, will more than likely miss the mark. Instead, the solution is designing a healthcare data center which can quickly adapt and adjust to the changing environment; one that is prepared to power your organization both today and in the future.

Five Requirements for Agile Data Recovery

Even though the cloud has made data storage and recovery more affordable, a cloud storage platform does not necessarily enable agile recovery efforts.

  1. 2017 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study
  2. Global Telemedicine Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025
  3. 2017 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study
  4. https://hitinfrastructure.com/news/5-essential-steps-for-healthcare-cloud-data-migration
  5. CHIME Member Survey conducted by Commvault, 2016
  6. https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2017/02/02/healthcare-providers-tough-telehealth-questions-answer/
  7. Global Telemedicine Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025
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