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Fog Computing Improves Healthcare Cloud for IoT Adoption

Fog computing restructures the healthcare cloud to give users better access to necessary data and better control over data storage.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- As healthcare organizations implement more Internet of Things (IoT) technology into their health IT infrastructures, the healthcare cloud needs to be able to reach all aspects of the infrastructure to ensure real-time smart communication.

Fog computing allows organizations to use cloud computing to support IoT, especially in large environments where devices need to be communicating with each other and the data center. This allows devices that are accessing similar information to connect via a sub cloud network, called a fog layer.

Fog computing increases operational efficiency by allowing end users to access smaller, more specific data instead of users accessing information in a centralized, cloud-based infrastructure along with data they will never need to access. 

Breaking down the access of data into fog layers gives large healthcare organizations a more organized approach to retrieve relevant data.

With the growth of big data analytics solutions, the amount of data available to users is massive. However, each department or clearance level does not need to access all of the information stored in an organization’s cloud. Fog computing takes data storage to the edge of the infrastructure environment instead of endpoints accessing data in the center.

A report released by Research and Markets outlines the growth of fog computing, indicating that the healthcare vertical is expected to see increased operational efficiency due to fog computing for connected medical and IoT devices.

Report analysts predicted the fog computing market to grow at a CAGR of 60 percent from 2017 to 2021. The rapid growth rate is due to organizations needing a faster and more convenient way for end users to access the data constantly produced by connected and IoT devices.

The report found that the biggest market driver is the exponential increase of the IoT and need for better communication between devices, rather than communication in a centralized hub.

One of the biggest drawbacks of fog computing is the lack of standardization of the technology. Users have found inconsistencies that can result in unreachable information and decreased data retrieval.

In an attempt to standardize the technology for successful future use, Dell, Intel, Cisco, ARM Holdings, Microsoft, and Princeton University founded the OpenFog Consortium in 2015 to develop standardized fog computing technology.

The OpenFog Consortium aims to solve the bandwidth, latency, and communication challenges associated with the, artificial intelligence, and other advanced digital IT infrastructure concepts.

The consortium is creating a framework for a secure environment that can efficiently connect intelligent endpoints for fast information flows between clouds, endpoints, and services based on established, open standard technologies.

Developers are met with standardization challenges, which include high network latency, support of endpoint mobility, loss of connectivity, unpredictable bandwidth bottlenecks, and distributed coordination of systems and clients.

As the amount of data collected by connected medical devices continues to grow, healthcare organizations are faced with infrastructure requirements to support the influx of data. The flexible nature of cloud computing and cloud storage make it the ideal technology to build repositories of information, as well as give quick access to clinicians who need real-time information.

Over the past year, healthcare organizations have been much more open to cloud computing as a standard health IT infrastructure technology. Organizations find that the cloud allows for much smarter communication between health information systems, providing end users with smarter communication between mission critical platforms.

Organizations recognize the need for end-to-end visibility of the cloud environment. However, as cloud environments grow, healthcare organizations are faced with adjusting to the volume of data for the sake of better visibility.

Fog computing allows IT administrators and users to isolate certain information, making it easier to access and manage.