High-performance, high reliability: The foundation for next-gen hospital IT architectures

Managed Services, HIPAA, CloudAs the former vice president of IT for a large Florida hospital, I know firsthand how important it is for healthcare organizations to have a fast and reliable IT infrastructure. Physicians will count the seconds that it takes to move from one screen to the next, and if it’s too slow, the CIO will get an angry phone call.

And who can blame them? Driven by regulatory requirements, hospitals now house their patient records in electronic medical records (EMR) systems. If a healthcare provider can’t access a patient’s medical records, they may not be able to treat them appropriately, and that’s a problem, because lives are potentially at stake. And there’s a lot more to support than just the EMR; a typical hospital runs 400 to 500 applications, each of which needs to be always available. Providing IT services that are always available and performing well has to be one of the CIO’s highest priorities.

That’s one of the reasons I recommend that hospitals build their IT infrastructure on the IBM Power platform, because it not only provides high performance and five-nines reliability (both of which are equally important), but it can also aid with other strategic healthcare IT initiatives.

For example, if your IT organization is considering moving to a hybrid environment to re-platform some of your apps to leverage microservices, IBM Power is designed so that it can form the basis of an on-prem private cloud. Eventually, you can use what you’ve learned to leverage the public cloud, as well.

If you’re thinking of incorporating hyperconverged infrastructure, IBM Power can run the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform software, which eliminates the need for standalone storage systems. As a result, healthcare IT can give hundreds of users access to the same virtual machine (VM), increase computing and storage resource utilization, and run heavy analytics workloads on an infrastructure that’s simple to scale and easy to manage.

Speaking of analytics, if you’re in hospital IT, running heavy analytics workloads is in your future, if not your present. Increasingly, hospital systems are establishing a data warehouse or a data lake to store and analyze the massive amounts of information hospitals produce. As regulatory pressure forces hospitals to move from paper-based systems to digital, the amount of data being created is unprecedented. There’s so much data and so many systems that are usually present in a HC environment. A very powerful architecture is necessary to be able to bring it all together and process this data and correlate it, and present it to the care team.

So how would a hospital use data analytics? Well, proprietary clinical data can be correlated with evidence-based data to give physicians insight into how their best practices, patient outcomes and procedures compare to the most recent research findings. Likewise, hospital administrators are finding value in data analytics that help them understand how to improve operations, increase the quality of care and find efficiencies that won’t compromise clinical outcomes. For example, a data visualization tool that analyzes daily operations could compare empty beds and patient conditions to uncover an opportunity to move a patient from the ICU to a far less expensive step-down unit. Analyzing all of this data requires serious computing power, which the IBM Power System’s solid-state drive can deliver.

Digital transformation is hard for any organization, but it’s especially challenging for the highly regulated hospital industry, especially when a poorly performing IT infrastructure could result in serious harm to patients. So as healthcare CIOs build out their next-generation infrastructure, they need to ensure that they have the performance, reliability and flexibility to deliver.

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Ronaldo Möntmann
CIO Advisor
Converge Technology Solutions