The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for reducing healthcare costs while improving efficiency and patient privacy protections. Current digital investment goals are still predominantly concentrated on improving customer experiences and operational excellence. Next in line is a shift to focusing on ensuring business continuity and resilience. These go hand-in-hand. If a healthcare organization’s data operability is down, patient experiences and operational efficiency are drastically reduced. Choosing a redundant architecture is vital when business needs require 100% operability and uptime.
Healthcare systems are pursuing advanced technology to bring added value to patients and better support to their staff. The primary drivers of these developments are patient outcomes, cost, and experiences or expectations. As healthcare advances and digital technologies continue to emerge, facilities increasingly rely on information technology to work effectively in a connected landscape. Due to the enhancements in technology, consumers are engaging with healthcare in new ways as healthcare utilizes innovative vendor solutions.
The global healthcare data storage market is projected to reach $6.12 billion by 2027. Growing fields such as telemedicine and AI-supported medical devices require software, compute capabilities, and storage. Big data and AI tools need massive amounts of compute stored in the most efficient way. To satisfy this growing demand, organizations must invest in their storage infrastructure to keep it versatile and robust so needs can be met. Reliable colocation vendors can support hospital data and enable staff to work closer to their core competencies, no longer spending time and money on technical storage and protection work.
Outsourcing Data Management
Becoming increasingly dependent on digital technologies to enable and inform care delivery, healthcare organizations are seeing how vital their infrastructure frameworks are to ensuring a stable environment. Healthcare executives must employ sophisticated governance and administration to ensure the management of their data is safe and compliant. Referred to as Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) spending, management of the digital identity requires robust interpretation and implementation. To increase the likelihood of success, executives need to make sure that safe and compliant participation happens by all users of IT healthcare resources. Secure colocation providers that service the healthcare industry will achieve data center compliance in specific realms, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) certification, protecting sensitive patient health information from being disclosed. Since healthcare data includes protected health information (PHI), hosting providers will ensure compliance with HIPAA rules, agreeing to implement specific measures to safeguard uploaded data.
Outsourcing the storage of healthcare data can help organizations in a variety of ways. As many different medical sectors work together within a facility, the IT systems that support these disciplines must too, seamlessly integrating with EHRs and providing data access to multiple devices anywhere, at any time. From the outset, data collection systems need to be scalable and compatible with different IT systems. Standardizing the input formats will minimize the need to clean the data, and following established interoperability standards will facilitate health information and data sharing. Ultimately, having a uniform baseline data architecture will allow for implementation across facilities.
With these integrations, however, comes the need for network speed and abundant carrier options. Sharing patient outcomes, data about recent MRIs, or even real-time analysis from medical tests requires low-latency data transfers for rapid delivery. Being in a data center offers more options for growth amid a facility’s space or power limitations. All cabling to systems can be structured, clean, and neat, with room to add more as needed. Customers have their choice of carriers rather than being stuck with a single provider or paying to bring in additional carriers to the building. Whether through scalability and interoperability, or network speed and carrier options, outsourcing data center management reduces the risks and cost of on-premises infrastructure while meeting customer demands for performance and maintaining competitive advantage.
Maintaining Resiliency & Redundancy
When technology is integrated into every aspect of business operations, the threat of downtime can grow exponentially and require high-availability data center services that hospitals or healthcare businesses may struggle to support. According to a recent study, 86% of global healthcare organizations (HCOs) that have been compromised by ransomware suffered operational outages. On average, it took most responding organizations days (56%) or weeks (24%) to fully restore these operations. Every business needs to be able to recover quickly from any event that stops day-to-day operations, no matter what industry or size. Without a disaster recovery plan, a company can suffer data loss, reduced productivity, out-of-budget expenses, and reputational damage that can lead to lost customers and revenue. Especially in healthcare, downtime not only means lost revenue but most importantly the inability to access lifesaving information.
The reliance on and growth of outsourced data requires a resilient and redundant architecture that is designed to maintain uptime and anticipate failure. Data centers are designed to focus on preventing against downtime, including having networks disabled by poor weather, servers going down or becoming inaccessible, or any other unplanned outage. Data backup and resilience are important to healthcare organizations because healthcare data is sensitive and medical personnel and patients might need to use the systems at any time. Setting a data center strategy with a trusted colocation provider can mitigate these issues and ensure healthcare data remains secure.
As the healthcare industry increases the amount of technology used, data stored and transmitted, and compute to enable the delivery of healthcare, this dependence on technology will need to align with more comprehensive disaster recovery planning to ensure that the facility can still function if data becomes lost or corrupted, and restoration measures are available to prevent or mitigate downtime. There are two primary types of disaster recovery solutions. One employs physical data centers where data is stored at a secondary site away from the primary location. The other utilizes a third-party provider that assumes the responsibility for the security, upkeep, and proper functioning of virtual servers. Both can be hosted in colocation.
Securing Healthcare Data in Colocation
Data protection in any industry is a challenge, especially in healthcare. Providers must balance protecting PHI while delivering quality patient care and meeting strict regulatory requirements from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and HIPAA, as well as the growing volume of enacted state legislation. Storage infrastructure must proactively anticipate unexpected events that can result in a breach of business continuity and resilience, guarding against the interruption of lifesaving work.
In today’s interconnected world, staying ahead of the game with a scalable data center strategy and a trusted partner allows healthcare organizations to focus on what matters most – patient care – without worrying about if their data will be secure and accessible when needed most.
As a resident of Austin, Texas, Shane Menking serves as Element Critical’s Chief Operating Officer. He brings over 20 years of experience to this role, where he continues to solve IT barriers for Element Critical’s customers while making the company’s high-performance data centers a valued choice for enterprise and hyperscale clients. For more information, visit elementcritical.com.