Healthcare Providers Can Enhance IT by Outsourcing Their Data Center

In today’s healthcare organization, the data center plays a key role in delivering quality patient care, addressing regulatory compliance, developing sound business strategies and allowing collaboration among staff, vendors, and patients.

The scope of who participates in data center decisions has also broadened significantly. In addition to IT, facilities, and security personnel, data center projects now involve physicians, medical officers, chief health information managers, and compliance managers.

Over recent years, healthcare providers have had to deal with major regulatory and technological changes affecting their industry. These changes have presented significant challenges to healthcare IT and data center operations, including:

  1. Increased Regulation – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets standards for the protection of protected health information (PHI) that is held by covered entities and their business associates. Implementing and managing the compliance process can be complex, costly and labor-intensive for a healthcare provider’s data center staff.
  1. New Technology Implementation – Healthcare organizations make technology investments based on anticipated benefits. Will adopting a new technology or application improve operational performance or patient care? Will it create cost efficiencies? Will it produce an attractive return on investment? Will it improve critical capabilities, such as security, reliability, and flexibility?

The use of mobile technologies is an example of an innovation that has gained traction in recent years. Healthcare industry workers, such as physicians, nurses and administrators, use their mobile devices to access ePHI. They also use mobile devices to collaborate with colleagues and patients via audio or video conferencing. Greater mobility results in faster decisions and quicker access to critical information.

Although increased mobility has opened the door to a world of possibilities within healthcare, it also has created some challenges for healthcare IT. The infrastructure must be able to support a growing number of disparate devices, including the personal devices of staff members.

  1. Growth in Data – Flexibility and scalability are key capabilities needed in a healthcare data center. Like most industries, healthcare is experiencing an exponential growth in the volume and type of data it must manage. The data center is ground-zero for collecting, analyzing and storing a wide variety of real-time data. To properly manage this growth, a healthcare organization must be able to quickly add capacity.

If a healthcare organization can’t quickly and economically add capacity when needed, the operation will be placed at a significant disadvantage and patient care could be adversely affected. An outsourced data center model can help protect an organization’s budget and enable healthcare organizations to scale quickly when necessary.

Data Center Colocation Helps Meet Healthcare IT Challenges

Several challenges impact a healthcare organization’s ability to manage an in-house data center effectively, such as out-of-date IT infrastructure, lack of technical expertise, hard-to-find IT staff, an ever-changing regulatory environment and budget constraints,.

To address these concerns, more and more healthcare organizations are moving to a data center colocation model. A data center colocation solution can improve a healthcare provider’s ability to meet regulatory requirements, leverage the latest technologies and capitalize on big data initiatives. An experienced data center colocation company can provide the necessary physical infrastructure, including data center space, power, cooling, connectivity and physical security, to support these efforts.

In addition, centralizing data center operations in a data center colocation facility allows healthcare organizations to lower costs, improve productivity, enhance patient care and address compliance. With one centralized facility, a healthcare organization can develop consistent approaches to information management. Since data center management is not a core competency for most healthcare organizations, outsourcing also enables them to focus more on delivering quality patient care.

Selecting the Right Data Center Provider

Healthcare organizations will turn to service providers for solutions to reduce risk and increase physical data center security. Data center providers will need to specialize in healthcare IT and thoroughly understand healthcare data flow and compliance requirements.

The demand for outsourced data center services will increase over the coming years. An increase in demand will bring a corresponding increase in supply of data center colocation providers. Therefore, healthcare organizations must carefully select a healthcare data center based on the provider’s specific experience.

FairPoint’s data centers provide strictly controlled environments with essential power, cooling, connectivity and physical security features. Healthcare providers select FairPoint for a number of reasons, including the company’s superior network and access to high-speed services, local support, proven expertise, and competitive pricing. For more information on data center colocation services, visit the FairPoint Communications website.

Chris is the former Vice President of Product Management at FairPoint Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications technology in northern New England and 14 other states across the U.S.