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Taking the pulse of your healthcare system’s vital signs

The hospital ecosystem is increasingly more connected and more complex. Healthcare professionals can treat patients in remote locations thanks to advances in telehealth, and doctors have a more complete picture of their patients’ health stories because of electronic health records. At the same time, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) connects powerful devices to patients and doctors with wearables, giving a unique window into patient health.

It’s more important than ever for hospitals to understand their IT network’s vital signs, since even a momentary disruption to a critical application can compromise the delivery of care, undermine the patient experience and even mean the difference between life or death. The human body’s systems can be a helpful way to take the pulse of a health system’s IT network:

Central nervous system

Similar to how the central nervous system serves as the human body’s command and control center, the IT backbone plays this role for the healthcare system. Today’s IT infrastructure and management systems, specifically power and cooling, must continuously communicate with, monitor and protect IT systems in order to prevent downtime before it happens and ensure patient data and medical equipment are always available when and where they are needed.

This is because the cost of downtime can be significant. Data center downtime costs businesses an average of nearly $9,000 per minute, according to a 2016 Ponemon Institute report. While outages for any business can be costly, healthcare downtime has the potential to drastically impact human lives.

The hospital’s IT infrastructure helps prevent costly downtime by supporting and protecting the connections between medical staff and patient data stored on servers in data centers, colocation facilities, the cloud or a hybrid solution. Network reliability is paramount as even a moment’s interruption could compromise the life-saving work of healthcare providers, leading to sometimes irreversible outcomes.

Skeletal system

Healthcare organizations are already struggling with how to store, manage, analyze and secure the immense influx of information from established and emerging technologies and applications, including electronic health records (EHR), digital imaging, IoMT, artificial intelligence, telemedicine and wearables. And the amount of data is only going to increase.

In fact, healthcare data is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 36% through 2025, according to an IDC report. That’s enough data to fill 12 quadrillion miles worth of notebook paper; laid end to end, they would circle the earth 485 billion times.

Hospitals need a strong, adaptable skeleton to accommodate the growth of data from all extremities, while maintaining reliability, efficiency and compliance of healthcare operations.

Circulatory system

The circulatory system circulates blood and transports oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body while carrying away waste. In healthcare systems with distributed IT infrastructure, the ability to securely send and receive data is paramount. When a power outage occurs, a natural disaster strikes or another emergency situation causes system failure, hospital staff may not be able to access or process EMRs, equipment may be damaged and important patient images could be corrupted.

To mitigate this risk, it’s important to implement reliable uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. These UPS systems provide emergency power and precision cooling equipment designed to remove the heat generated by high-density, life-critical technologies. The UPS systems work hand-in-hand with hardware and software solutions that enable remote access and monitoring. This redundancy, connectivity and centralized control ensure seamless operations, proper power and temperature regulation, and faster and better decision making.

Immune system

The immune system is perhaps the unsung hero of the human body. It keeps people healthy and allows the human body to heal itself. When the immune system is compromised, it can make it difficult to fight off infections and keep up with daily activities. In the same way, healthcare systems can fall victim to threats that interrupt their important work.

To build immunity and stay healthy, people can get immunizations, eat healthy, exercise and manage stress. Regular testing, maintenance, physical infrastructure updates and recommissioning can help keep a healthcare system’s immunity strong. These best practices can promote optimal productivity, compliance and energy efficiency, all while helping it stay immune to future threats.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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Data Management