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Three challenges facing IT infrastructure in connected healthcare

The rise of the internet of medical things has been a game changer for healthcare. Thanks to IoMT, powerful devices can connect patients and doctors, painting a picture of a patient’s full health history and allowing for quicker and more accurate diagnoses and better patient outcomes. Telehealth, powered by IoMT, has broken down physical barriers, allowing healthcare professionals to reach patients wherever they are. And, picture archiving and communications systems allow physicians to access important patient images 24 hours a day, from any location.

As hospital systems become more complex and integrated, healthcare IT organizations are faced with several significant challenges applying additional demands on an already-stressed IT infrastructure. Three such challenges include:

1. Ensuring the compliance of the network and all of its components with multiple regulatory standards.
These include digital imaging and communications, Health Level Seven, the International Organization for Standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, to name just a few. Relevant national applicable codes also must be considered.

2. Handling the influx of additional data while supporting new technologies.
Depending on the patient’s disease, physicians can use different modalities for diagnosis and treatment. For example, an X-ray or CT scan may be used for orthopedics, while an electrocardiogram or MRI is often used with cardiology patients. The images created by the scanners can be easily sent to specialized physicians to get an in-depth evaluation and diagnosis.

Today, hospitals store hundreds of millions of digital images created by MRIs and CTs, which are becoming better at capturing thinner and thinner slices of the body. Indeed, nearly 90% of all healthcare data comes from medical imaging. There is simply no way humans can turn that much data into useful information, so more than 97% of it goes unanalyzed or unused. As a result, healthcare organizations are beginning to use AI to identify issues and detect complex relationships and patterns in the images. The high volume of data necessary to facilitate AI analysis may result in billions of parameters that need to be optimized during the training phase, increasing the computing needed for analysis. This, in turn, increases the need for a stable and reliable electrical power source.

3. Enabling the delivery of diagnostic images anytime, anywhere.
Picture archiving and communications systems need to be available on demand for physicians and specialist surgeons, providing the latest imaging data of the patient under treatment. Waiting for an image to download isn’t an option when a patient’s life is on the line. Rather, the expectation is that data distribution will be faster, easier and more reliable to support the best possible patient care. IT plays a crucial role in this scenario and, consequently, the continuity of power becomes a top priority. The physical infrastructure supporting these integrated systems must be reliable, scalable, highly available and manageable.

IoMT and innovative technologies, such as PACS, help to significantly increase the quality and speed of diagnosis. These technologies provide information that saves lives, minimizes human errors and reduces costs. In order for these systems to deliver on their promise, healthcare organizations must rethink their IT infrastructures and ensure they have the proper systems in place to facilitate 100% availability.

The Vertiv whitepaper, “Enabling Reliable Digital Hospitals,” shares best practices for infrastructure and provides an in-depth look at the various systems, including PACS, that must be supported today.

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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