How to Accommodate the Deluge of Sensitive Data in Health Care

By: Chris Nerney| - Leave a comment

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Because health care providers are increasingly leveraging technologies such as electronic health records, health information exchanges, digital point-of-care tools, patient wearables and analytics, data is becoming more and more important in the industry. As such, there is more pressure on hospitals to develop effective storage and management solutions for sensitive data.

Older Hospitals Get the Short End of the Stick

Many new hospitals and medical centers are planning and building data centers specifically designed to handle current and future data loads while still meeting privacy and security requirements set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other health care mandates. However, for older hospitals, building a data center from scratch may not be an option due to physical space constraints, the financial burden or both.

There are still several options for established hospitals and medical centers seeking to expand their data storage capacity, though. The evolution of cloud computing models and the advances in data center technologies such as virtualization, modular designs and converged infrastructures gives older hospitals numerous affordable and flexible options to meet their growing need for secure, easily accessible storage.

Any potential solution should be assessed within the context of the hospital’s current and future processing and critical-load needs, which can be determined by a hospital’s IT staff or in conjunction with an experienced data center services provider.

Cloud Services

While the health care industry has been historically slow to adopt new IT, the explosion of data and the growing need for data sharing is causing many hospitals and private practices to migrate their data center expansions to the cloud. According to MarketsandMarkets, the health care cloud computing market will nearly triple from $3.73 billion in 2015 to $9.48 billion in 2020.

The report also highlights the benefits of cloud deployment for health care providers, particularly the resulting flexibility. Hospitals can use the cloud to store clinical and nonclinical data, deliver software, infrastructure or platform components as services and pay only for the computing resources they use. Cloud software-as-a-service models also enable hospitals to deploy the growing number of mobile apps being used by clinicians and patients.

Remote Data Centers to Host Sensitive Data

Another option for hospitals that prefer to keep tight control over sensitive data and IT services but lack the physical space for a new data center is to build a data center in another location. While this gives hospitals the ability to better manage security, particularly physical access, it will also incur construction costs and ongoing power and cooling expenses.

Prefabricated Modular Data Centers

Older hospitals with existing data centers can quickly add in-house capacities without straining physical space limitations by using prefabricated modular data centers. Modular data centers feature high-density, vendor-neutral computing components delivered in single containers, making them easy to install and integrate with existing data centers. Further, prefabricated modular data centers are highly scalable and portable, making them valuable for hospitals trying to save time and money.

Consolidation

Older data centers are often inefficient and unreliable, neither of which are options in the business of health care. By modernizing and consolidating data center components, hospitals can gain critical computing power, increase system reliability and reduce power and cooling expenses through the use of newer, energy-efficient hardware.

The sheer amount of data created by modern hospitals demands flexible and scalable data storage solutions. While established industry players may not have the option of building fancy new data centers, there are plenty of feasible options to meet their storage needs.

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About The Author

Chris Nerney

Freelance Writer

Chris Nerney writes about technology, science and health care for a number of websites and enterprises. He has written extensively about mobile technology, cloud computing, big data and analytics, health care finance and IT, data centers and space technology. His work has appeared in Computerworld, CIO.com, Data-Informed, Revenue Cycle Insights, Network World and numerous other sites. Chris also writes technology white papers and is an experienced editor.

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