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New Technologies Require Solid Health IT Infrastructure

As the healthcare IT industry continues to grow, organizations need to keep an eye on their infrastructure to ensure it can support advanced technology deployments.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The healthcare IT solutions market is projected to reach $228.79 billion by 2020 and lead to significant changes to the industry’s IT infrastructure. 

Building health IT infrastructure

Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates that the global health IT market including interoperability, healthcare analytics, and telemedicine will grow 13.4 percent CAGR over the next four years.

Healthcare organizations are seeking IT solutions to improve clinical, operational, and administrative initiatives which have surpassed basic electronic health records (EHRs) and now include information management systems, population health management solutions, and healthcare information exchange.

According to the report, the growth of health IT will be the result of regulatory requirements organizations need to meet for patient care and safety as well as the need to cut costs while improving the quality of patient care.

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  • While healthcare organizations are looking to implement solutions to improve patient care and productivity, the solutions are unlikely to prove beneficial unless they are stood up upon a solid foundation. IT infrastructure planning, therefore, will be a prerequisite beginning with an assessment of legacy infrastructure technology and new solution implementations.

    Planning the technological future of an organization requires a phased approach. CIOs and IT decision-makers have the responsibility of determining the technological needs of the organizations and the appropriate deployment methods.

    An organization’s current infrastructure may be able to support one new solution such as an EHR platform or an analytics solution, but may not be able to support another new deployment without undergoing modifications. As a result, healthcare IT leadership must be aware of the requirements of numerous systems in order to successfully deploy them.

    Network

    Wireless networks have risen to the top of the infrastructure priority list because of the influx of mobile and connected medical devices over the past several years, along with cloud computing and remote access. Legacy wireless networks will likely be incapable of supporting each new solution over time as it’s added to the infrastructure.

    Each new solution requiring wireless access adds more strain to the network. Increased traffic from mobile devices can slow down user connectivity, disrupting daily workflow. Organizations using cloud patient portals or software-as-a-service EHR platforms cannot afford to be interrupted by a service outage.

    Organizations can conduct site surveys to determine where to place access points, how to handle times of increased traffic, and  identify where and how the network needs to be improved for future stability.

    Cloud Storage

    The growth of healthcare data analytics brings about many challenges for IT infrastructure including EHR compatibility and demand for stronger wireless networks, but an organization’s data storage environment needs to be capable of handling the increased amounts of data from IoT devices and EHRs.

    Operating exclusively with on-premise servers becomes expensive as the amount of data grows. Many cloud storage companies offer scalable solutions allowing organizations to purchase more space as their archived data grows at a lower cost than a physical server.

    Cloud computing offers healthcare organizations interested in adopting interoperability solutions, cloud based EHRs and storage offer better compatibility among organizations exchanging data.

    Security

    As more digital data is stored using health IT infrastructure the network can potentially become vulnerable. Data theft, malware attacks, and data exposure are among the top concerns for healthcare CIOs. Protecting the network from attack includes considering remote users accessing the network along with threats of ransomware and other user facing attacks.

    Analyzing how each new solution will access the network and how users access present and future solutions will make implementation smoother and ensure security solutions are compatible with future solution deployments.

    As the healthcare industry continues to embrace new technology it’s important to consider the cost of base infrastructure technology before committing to deploy advanced healthcare technology. IT infrastructure is built the same way as physical structures; the foundation needs to be supportive to prevent future problems

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