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Transforming Healthcare: Connecting Patients, Systems and Data with Hybrid IT

Over the last 18 months, businesses of all shapes and sizes – across all verticals including healthcare, financial services and media and entertainment – have faced new and unexpected challenges. As a result, IT teams have been called to do some heavy lifting to meet the swift, ever-changing needs. While many organizations implemented remote work solutions and made broad improvements to inter-employee communication platforms, the healthcare industry was presented with additional, unique challenges such as bolstering (or in some cases starting) telehealth platforms and relocating IT assets to allow hospitals and doctors’ offices to maximize existing real estate and serve more patients.  

As the world reemerges, now what?

At the end of 2020, 451 Research’s survey data showed that of the businesses polled, 63.8% saw a significant increase in remote working and 32.5% saw reductions in office footprint as permanent changes being made due to the influence of the COVID-19 outbreak, suggesting that the mode of operation we landed on during the pandemic will likely carry forward in the years to come. With workers being decentralized, do the IT resources they utilize also need to be decentralized? Yes and no.  The pandemic seems to have encouraged a trend we were already seeing, which is the hybridization of infrastructure and even IT resources more generally. Simply put, this new mode of work we find ourselves in underscores the fact that there is no “one venue to rule them all”; rather, IT leaders are making strategic decisions about where workloads should live based on the users who access them. To that end, workloads are landing everywhere, and for a multitude of reasons.

In the case of healthcare, the “users” could be patients, doctors, billing and insurance department workers, or any number of on-site – any number of sites, for that matter – or remote healthcare professionals. The placement of the workload can often be thought of in terms of latency. For example, high-resolution imaging systems generally are still housed on-site at hospitals due to data size and bandwidth limitations. As we’ve seen, however, where the data originates may not be where it is processed or ultimately stored longer term. Continuing with the example, an X-ray technician may create an image at one location, which is then viewed and assessed by a doctor at another location, who then may need to share the results with the patient either in person or virtually through a telehealth platform. Once the diagnosis and action plan have been delivered to the patient, that data may live on the hospital’s electronic medical record system, which could be hosted in a private cloud that physically resides in a colocation facility and is managed by a third party, perhaps in another city.  

In this singular example of an interaction with a patient, data can originate, reside and be acted upon from many locations. The obvious takeaway here is that the connectivity between all these points must be robust, reliable and secure, as must the systems that are being connected. One option is to leverage a colocation provider to help with the connectivity and, of course, the reliability of the underlying infrastructure. We see these ideas play out in our research. For example, when we asked companies why they chose to rent space from a colocation provider, the highest percentage of respondents (32.5%) said they did so to improve reliability. When we asked this same group of people why they intend to expand their colocation footprint in the next two years, the highest percentage (27%) said they were doing so to interconnect with public clouds providers, telcos, service providers or their customers.

Upcoming Webinar

To explore this topic further, please join us on August 18, 2021 at 1-2 p.m. ET for the webinar, Transforming Healthcare: Connecting Patients, Systems and Data with Hybrid IT. In this webinar session, we will:

  • Explore how healthcare providers are leveraging multiple venues to service their current IT needs
  • Hear from a healthcare IT professional and an industry analyst about how organizations are strategically deploying hybrid IT strategies
  • Learn about how healthcare providers can plan most effectively to scale for the future

Dan Thompson | Principal Research Analyst, 451 Research
As a Principal Research Analyst for 451 Research, a part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, Dan Thompson provides insight into the multi-tenant datacenter (MTDC) market space.