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Smart Device Growth Strains Health IT Infrastructure

As health IT infrastructure expands to include smart devices, organizations must consider how they will continue to support growth.

health IT infrastructure

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The more devices organizations add to their health IT infrastructure, the more entities need the devices to have smart capabilities. Internet of Things (IoT) and other smart devices need some form of automation or cognitive computing, so IT staff are not overwhelmed with maintaining too many devices.

The smart machine market is expected to reach $22.6 billion by 2023, according to a recent Research and Markets report.

The biggest drivers of smart machines across the healthcare industry are expert systems, such as medical support systems, medical robots, intelligent assistants, embedded software systems (i.e., monitoring and control systems), and wearable devices.

The report also indicated that the healthcare industry will see the largest growth in smart devices through 2023.

Smart device growth does take a toll on health IT infrastructure. Many of these devices are meant to alleviate some of the strain on IT staff by taking on certain responsibilities. But set up, making sure IoT and other smart devices work with current infrastructure, and updating IT infrastructure require serious consideration.

Introducing smart devices into a health IT infrastructure is not a one step process. The ultimate goal is to create a smart hospital made up of an ecosystem with interconnected advanced technology.

The process of transitioning IT infrastructure to support a smart hospital can be challenging, but organizations need to remember that the transformation must take place in stages.

"Not every hospital needs to become smart in a single step. Instead, the approach they need to take is to implement smart solutions, one by one, and then allow newer solutions to integrate with existing ones in the journey toward becoming smart," Transformational Health Industry Analyst Siddharth Shah said in a statement. "This allows hospitals to implement solutions with limited financial investments, reap rewards and ROI, and then implement the next solution."

Two major factors organizations need to consider is automation and the cloud to handle all the smart device monitoring as well as accommodate all the data these devices.

Entities that have IoT devices as part of their infrastructure will continue to add more devices as time goes on. This leaves IT staff with a large number of devices that need to be configured and maintained.

IoT devices can be automated and controlled remotely, which can relieve a lot of the stress that comes along with maintaining the devices. Automation makes it easier to onboard new devices and reduces human intervention, eliminating much of the risk involved with maintaining the devices.

Cloud also plays a large part in digital transformation and the introduction of smart devices into health IT infrastructure.

A 2016 451 Research survey found that IT departments are struggling to manage the increasingly large IT infrastructure environments.  

“IT departments being tasked with transformation to cloud-based infrastructure are struggling with the challenges and complexity of managing multiple environments, and our research shows that a majority of the platform providers they turn to today are falling short in supporting that transformation,” 451 Research Vice President William Fellows said in a statement.

“As enterprises continue along the cloud maturity curve, we anticipate a sharp demand for cloud automation, self-service and provisioning capabilities as they seek to increase efficiency, flexibility, spend, and agility,” Fellows added.

Cloud computing for storage is one of the most significant steps healthcare organizations can take towards becoming a smart hospital.

Cloud-based tools and cloud-based storage are key to rapidly expanding health IT infrastructure. The elastic environment gives healthcare organizations the opportunity to expand their infrastructure without spending too much money toward on-premises tools.

Automating smart device protocols and supporting the devices using the cloud gives healthcare organizations much more control over their health IT infrastructure. As more devices continue to be added, entities must make sure they can support the growth. 

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