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Virtualization of HIT Infrastructure Supports Value-Based Care

CipherHealth announced improvements to its HIT infrastructure to reduce operating costs and improve patient care in the face of value-based care.

HIT infrastructure upgrades support value-based care

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- CipherHealth announced its deployment of IBM Power Systems to support its HIT infrastructure, running it more efficiently through reducing costs and rate of patient readmission.

CipherHealth needed to upgrade its health IT infrastructure to cut back on monthly infrastructure costs and improve data processing times.

IBM Systems Linux and Open Source Offering Manager Chuck Bryan said that it’s important for healthcare organizations to minimize infrastructure costs by leveraging tools that can handle data-rich workloads.

IBM Power Systems implemented the hypervisor, PowerVM that improves performance, memory bandwidth, and the number of hardware threads. The tools are designed for cognitive and big data workloads that are common in healthcare organizations deploying analytics solutions.

IBM Lab Services and CipherHealth worked together to develop a custom, open source database based on MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redis and NGINX built for Linux on Power Systems. The healthcare provider needed to build a custom IT infrastructure that would support its cognitive workloads.

CipherHealth implemented a new private cloud on IBM Power System S824L servers and migrated its patients’ data to the new platform.

Advanced infrastructure implementations may be costly for healthcare organizations to consider, but the efficiency and month-over-month costs of many advanced infrastructure tools have most organizations seeing a significant ROI.

Healthcare organizations are seeking ways to cut back costs and improve patient care at the same time. Advancing health IT infrastructure is the foundation of moving forward with value-based care.

Cutting back on data storage and moving to the cloud are several ways organizations can make significant steps toward becoming more efficient and productive providers that are for the benefit, not the expense of clinicians and patients.

AMIA has recognized the need for healthcare organizations to embrace more advanced IT infrastructure solutions for value-based care incentives.

AMIA states in a paper that significant progress has been made in the digitization of health IT infrastructure. However, many IT environments contain legacy systems that are not designed to support the transition to value-based care.  

“Provider organizations pursuing new models of healthcare delivery and payment are finding that their electronic systems lack the capabilities needed to succeed,” said AMIA. “The result is a chasm between the current health IT ecosystem and the health IT ecosystem that is desperately needed.”

“Both the technologies themselves and the application of those technologies and the data they contain urgently need improvement to support the transition to value-based care.”

Cloud and virtualization are two major technologies that are currently helping organizations significantly cut back on overall IT infrastructure costs while providing a more efficient environment for patients and users.

Moving data and applications to the cloud gives organizations control over how much space they need without investing in expensive hardware. The amount of storage space needed by and organization varies depending on what projects are running.

Entities using cloud storage along with their on-premises deployments have the option to purchase more cloud storage at a much lower rate than spending money on new servers. Organizations also have the option to reduce the amount of cloud space they are paying for when larger projects, such as research or migration, are completed and the space is no longer needed.

Along with cloud, virtualizing certain parts of health IT infrastructure also makes it easier to move workloads to the cloud by saving money on hardware and resources, according to ClearSky Data CEO Ellen Rubin.

“Things the customer feels don’t need to live in their data center anymore, like VMware environments, are moved to the cloud because they take up a tremendous amount of resources,” said Rubin. “The VMware environment is already virtualized and organizations are willing to consider that it doesn't have to sit on physical gear.”

“It’s easier to move a VMWare environment to the cloud than workloads that haven’t been virtualized,” she added. “There are characteristics of the application that make it more cloud friendly.”

Virtualizing components of IT infrastructure and eliminating hardware saves organizations money and it cuts down on the amount of time clinicians spend logging into and out of secure applications.

Upgrading health IT infrastructure systems has become more urgent for providers looking to embrace value-based care. These entities are faced with embracing new technology and future-proofing their IT environments.

Healthcare organizations should consider larger cloud and virtualization implementations to improve clinician workflow and patient care. 


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