In recent years, there have been several initiatives, regulations and requirements undertaken in the healthcare business to move all levels of the industry – from the biggest hospitals to the smallest family care centers – away from paper to a system of digital medical records and online information sharing. Regulations such as HIPAA have been put in place to protect patient data while this is being done.
There is much more at stake here, however, than just giving a doctor a tablet and connecting them to a wireless network. The information that is used and shared needs to have a strong, secure and protected backbone. Medical records have to be stored for several years and need to be secure and protected while they are stored. There are specific requirements laid out in the regulations that need to be followed, regardless of how many records you have to protect.
When you think of the average file size of a single MRI as being about 100MB, it is easy to see how the amount of information you have to store and protect can become unwieldy – not to mention the ever-spiraling costs associated with storing that data.
But it’s not all about storage and security. Healthcare facilities and businesses need to have the IT infrastructure to ensure that this information is available at the touch of a doctor or nurse’s fingers. The network that provides the information, and the data center storing it, must be able to provide secure patient data at a moment’s notice.
Healthcare facilities and businesses need to ensure that they have the data center backbone that can protect their patient data and provide that information whenever needed, on any device. Many healthcare businesses have found that, given the maze of regulations, security and availability that need to be navigated, the best way to meet all of these needs is to work with data center experts. There are several variables that need to be taken into consideration to make this happen:
- Uptime and Availability – is your data center partner able to guarantee the uptime and availability needed to run your facility? What is their redundancy strategy? Life and death decisions are made using data from your network – so it is beyond critical that it always be available, accurate and protected. Healthcare cannot have downtime.
- Capacity – at crisis times, there will be stresses and requests upon your network like never before. Sometimes at unheard of levels of activity. Does your network have the ability to expand as needed to meet demand? When doctors are relying on information being delivered quickly, your network needs to respond.
- Ability to Manage Patient and Business Data – at the same time that facilities and healthcare businesses move their patient data and operations to the cloud, most will also move their business operations as well. Accounting, HR, and more – does your partner have the ability to store and manage this extra data for you as well?
- Reporting – Proof of Compliance with Regulations – one of the major elements of regulations is that companies need to continue to provide documentation that they are complying with them. Does your provider make it easy to show compliance? Healthcare facilities don’t have the time to spend on complicated proof-of-compliance scenarios.
- Security – without question, security is one of the most important elements of moving critical information and patient data online. You need to protect the privacy of your patients first and foremost.
- Devices – can you ensure that your patient information is protected and available on any device? With the entire world relying on mobile – your doctors, nurses and patients will too. You need to factor this in now.
Technology has advanced healthcare beyond what anyone thought possible – and the idea of digitizing the industry will only help improve the ability of doctors and nurses to provide excellent patient care, no matter the time or location. However, healthcare needs strong, secure technologies to make this happen.
Generic data center solutions simply do not meet the needs of today’s healthcare facilities and businesses – healthcare IT managers need to invest in partners and technologies that secure and protect information, while making it possible to access that very information anytime, anywhere.