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Unlocking Healthcare Connectivity

Data is being produced, stored, and accessed by many organisations at faster rates and in larger amounts than ever before. This has resulted in a boom in public cloud usage and has upended the 'do it yourself' paradigm, in which the data centre serves as the organisation's hub and information is accessed over a private network.

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For IT leaders in healthcare organisations the landscape has quickly shifted. They are responsible for a rapidly growing patch and face decisions about how best to look after it: Do they tend it themselves, get the help of friends and family or give the responsibility to someone else?

Now of course, the increased demand in this scenario is the rise of remote care and a greater push for data-driven technologies, particularly connected medical devices, remote patient monitoring, and telehealth. Many organisations are producing, storing and accessing data more rapidly and in greater volumes than ever before. This has caused a surge in public cloud adoption and upended the ‘tend to it yourself’ model, where ​​the data centre sits at the hub of the organisation and information is accessed through a private network.

Meeting healthcare connectivity data demands

Many healthcare organisations are storing and accessing data in the public cloud, as it affords them the flexibility and resources needed – without having to invest in IT infrastructure. This is particularly beneficial in circumstances such as drug inventories or e-commerce, where information doesn’t have high security concerns or any form of latency sensitivity.

But this is by no means the right option for every healthcare provider. When it comes to sensitive patient data that is closely regulated, security and resilience are key considerations. The reality is that this quick shift towards a public cloud strategy as a ‘fix all’ solution does not consider whether legacy systems are suitable for migration. Looking to the future, perhaps there is also a need to consider what will happen to that data in 10 or 20 years. In other words, will today’s technology and encryption stand the test of time?

As the demand for digital and connected healthcare solutions grow, so too does the argument for high-performance connectivity networks that can meet the demands of challenging environments and a high volume of latency sensitive connected healthcare applications. There’s a misconception that private networking costs vastly more than the Internet and that isn’t true.

Instead, it’s all about considering the types of data you need to access. For example, a local chain of pharmacies may keep information on-premise so that all their data is in one place. Or a large hospital trust might decide that to best support point of care decision-making, where there is a real-time consideration, a centrally managed connectivity that is intrinsically secure, predictable, and scalable will work best for them.

Taking a hybrid approach

The truth is, there isn’t a single right answer. Some services are better suited to private cloud, others public, and there are some that benefit from being on-premise. It’s all about weighing up responsibility versus control, cost and performance – and how much you need of each.

There are times when it’s best to tend to part of the plot yourself. There will be patches that you need to oversee with the help of others and some, where it’s easier to hand over responsibility entirely. The key to managing it all, is to build a foundation that allows you to sustainably transform each patch – a secure network infrastructure that is agile, cost efficient and scalable.

One that allows for adoption and migration at pace without causing delay or disruption and uses a combination of connectivity mechanisms. To deliver the most cost-effective solution, that is secured appropriately and provides visibility of all data flows. There will never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which is why a hybrid solution provides the flexibility to put services where they can function best.

Being future ready

Healthcare organisations need their connectivity infrastructure to be future ready and cloud certainly provides agility, cost efficiencies and scalability benefits. All of which are invaluable to healthcare providers attempting to navigate their way through these uncertain times.

Taking the best of everything that’s on offer provides greater flexibility. Allowing providers to shift critical infrastructure to a mix of on-premise, cloud and edge environments as a way to drive faster services, streamline access to critical data and give IT leaders tighter control over operations. Ultimately, a secure and flexible network provides a foundation to be able to adapt and adopt technology as it evolves. The truth is that having flexibility is what makes it possible to achieve digital aspirations and transformation objectives.

You can find the original article at The Journal of mHealth.


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