What does it take to run a 21st Century Hospital? Behind the expert clinicians who bring the latest in skills and knowledge to treat patients, there are myriad IT systems at work that ensure that administrators, researchers, doctors, and patients can access all the information they need to deliver the best patient outcomes.
While there are many pain points for healthcare IT leaders in delivering on that vision, being able to manage the petabytes of data that are created in the clinical environment every day looms large. It’s not just that these vast amounts of data need to be stored in compliance with healthcare regulations, like HIPAA, but that data needs to be shared within the hospital and also with outside organizations.
“Healthcare IT leaders are facing many challenges today,” shared NetApp’s Joseph Hobbs, CHCIO, MBA. “From smaller budgets and teams, to complex data management challenges, to breaking down the internal and external silos to enable sharing information quickly, it’s often been a matter of picking your battles.”
However, with recent developments in the data management space, Hobbs sees hope. “Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) provides healthcare IT leaders the opportunity to address issues of sharing, scaling, and budget in one solution,” he noted during a recent conversation with Future Healthcare Today.
Hobbs outlined that HCI builds infrastructure to support multiple different applications within a healthcare organization’s data center environment. “Within a data center it’s not uncommon to find six or seven different operating systems that all require different processes and separate teams of experts to manage and maintain them,” he shared.
These silos are particularly deleterious to efficiency. The silos make it difficult to share information and have apps work in concert, and require the IT team has to be staffed with single system experts. This results in an overall reduction in efficiency as IT team members begin to work in silos as well and are unavailable to focus on the organization’s needs, while they tend to the technology.
“For example, a state of the art HCI solution will provide a single pane management platform that’s easy to use,” said Hobbs. “Having worked with VMware’s console as part of NetApp’s HCI solution, it’s clear that someone with no knowledge of complex storage environments can run the data center. This frees highly skilled IT employees to focus on solutions to address the unique needs of their healthcare organization.”
Hobbs pointed out several other important features that an HCI solution should have so that it doesn’t become an additional burden on the IT team. “Let’s start with simplicity. You don’t want an HCI solution that’s going to create its own silos. Because Electronic Health Records (EHR) can’t run on HCI if you don’t have a data fabric to facilitate integration.” From that starting point, Hobbs expanded his definition of simplicity to include simplified management and operations so that storage and compute come from one place. The solution’s flexibility means that storage and compute can be scaled independently to avoid wasting scarce budget dollars.
As healthcare organizations build their 21st Century hospitals– facilities equipped to empower patients on their journey to better health, support sophisticated imaging to pinpoint the source of illness and disease, and ready to apply genomic data insights to provide personalized care,– the need for innovative solutions, like HCI, will continue to grow. And, as Hobbs concluded in our conversation, those that provide “simplicity, flexibility, and quality of service,” will provide the best foundation for meeting clinicians needs and providing the best patient outcomes possible.
What does leading health IT expert, David Chou, have to say about HCI? Find out here.