Curing Healthcare IT Woes with Database DevOps

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By Prem Patel

Since the coronavirus crisis hit, healthcare systems around the world have been scrambling to contain the virus and its spread. With doctors and nurses focused on the well-being of their patients, it’s up to the healthcare IT teams to ensure there’s a well-oiled infrastructure in place on the back-end to keep systems operational and running, while planning for the long road to recovery. 

It’s not without a few bumps in the road. Many IT teams are now remote, increasing the need to

standardize processes, and with the surge in telemedicine, the accuracy of patient data and ease of access to it have never been more important. To help answer some of these issues, much of the healthcare IT sector has started to implement DevOps and database DevOps processes, and recent events will likely only serve to accelerate the pace at which it is introduced. 

Based on data from the 2020 State of Database DevOps Report in the Healthcare Sector, there are a few key trends for the healthcare IT industry to consider as teams continue to plan for the year ahead and the challenges of facing the pandemic.

Database DevOps Adoption is Rising

To meet the demands of remote IT teams, and the increasing pace of the healthcare sector even before the pandemic, a majority (70%) of healthcare IT teams have adopted DevOps across all or some projects, or have a proof of concept (PoC) in place. Healthcare is leading the charge to help streamline processes and increase collaboration. In fact, the only thing holding others back from not adopting Devops is the fear of disrupting workflows and legacy processes already in place. According to research, 41% have moved beyond the PoC stage, compared to 36% across other sectors like government or financial services.

The healthcare IT sector seems to understand better than most why collaborative, non-siloed tech environments are necessary in an industry that so often demands regulatory concerns and increasing patient demands. And as the growing cyber threat to patient data grows ever more apparent, it’s become a sector imperative to ensure there are systems in place to respond quickly and address issues before they become much worse. By extending DevOps practices to databases, healthcare systems can improve the quality and efficiency of IT releases, and ensure patient data is secured.

Implementing Automation 

The healthcare sector is ahead of some industries in adopting automation across the database development process. And unlike other sectors that are automating to increase the speed of delivery, the healthcare sector is focused on freeing up developer time, which came in at 27%. For such a heavily regulated environment like healthcare, automation can help lead to far fewer errors when making changes to the database. By adopting automation, the healthcare sector is not only helping to ensure its developers can focus on more pressing needs, but it’s a step to ensuring compliance as well. 

An important factor for automation is also version control, which enables automated builds and deployments and serves as a key component for compliance. It’s the basis for ensuring development processes are both reliable and repeatable, while removing common human errors that so often trip up development teams. Ensuring that both automated processes and version control are in place can also help keep IT teams running smoothly now that everyone is working remotely. 

Don’t Delay a Cloud Transition

Like other industries, the healthcare sector is making its way to the cloud with 42% saying they are using the cloud in some way. What’s interesting is the correlation between cloud and DevOps adoption. Since a transition to DevOps processes is rooted in collaboration and breaking down silos around development, this plays hand-in-hand with how the cloud has opened up the possibilities for collaborative processes while teams are remote. 

According to a recent report from cloud training and certifications platform Cloud Guru, demand for cloud professionals is not only rising, but 80% of cloud leaders said it was easier to upskill existing talent than to hire for new skills. In the same report, “DevOps” and “Cloud-native architecture” skills were listed as the top two skills that cloud hiring managers rank as highly in demand on their teams. For the healthcare sector, investing in these two areas leading into 2021 will help healthcare IT teams meet the demand of their doctors, patients and remote services like telehealth that all depend on these databases each day. 

The Road Ahead

The healthcare sector is facing a host of new challenges this year, and the pandemic has forced hospitals to adapt to new ways to ensure patient care remotely. But healthcare IT is already stepping up and not only adopting DevOps and Database DevOps to meet the need for more collaborative environments, but looking at automation and version control to help ensure compliance is accounted for along the way. With 2021 looming ahead, and cloud adoption on the rise, the healthcare sector will need to consider how best to invest in tech spending to continue to balance the needs of their doctors and patients with that of their IT teams. 

Prem Patel is a Database DevOps Partner at Redgate. He works with Fortune 1000 companies to optimize software delivery that ties to high-level business objectives, and provides best-in-class solutions to align database and application development processes.

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