By Bob Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Extreme Networks
The global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $55 billion by 2025, up from $20 billion in 2018. Historically, hospitals have slowly migrated singular applications, like EMRs or contact center technology, to the cloud. But in the wake of COVID-19, healthcare professionals are looking to scale healthcare services rapidly – making the move to cloud even more imperative.
For healthcare IT teams that are more taxed than ever, the best place to start is migrating infrastructure management to the cloud. This will allow for a reduction in data center server infrastructure and reduce the need for staff to be on-site, while also enabling hospitals to more easily scale across distributed, remote environments — whether that’s remote nurses, triage tents or pop-up field hospitals. With health IT systems being so critical, downtime can be the difference between life or death, and as such, the challenge is to ensure migration to cloud management is both seamless and secure. IT managers must first remember the basics of cloud and network infrastructure and consider the following best practices.
Start Small With Remote Offices And Clinics
Overhauling a medical campus with thousands of devices, applications, and legacy systems is a huge endeavor. Sometimes, it’s best to think smaller. For example, many administrative roles have been moved to workspaces outside of medical facilities due to limited space. With no patients or medical equipment, these offices present an opportunity to onboard cloud management on a smaller scale. They also allow IT teams to test new technology in a controlled environment so they can adjust connectivity and security configurations as needed.
As healthcare organizations deploy net-new remote locations to deal with patient surges, quickly onboarding locations and clinics is critical. Cloud-managed solutions work well for this, giving IT teams the ability to centralize and manage their network infrastructure remotely. With automated provisioning and simple templates to enable services, onboarding new locations can be done efficiently.
Assemble A Compliance Taskforce
Healthcare organizations manage troves of sensitive patient information, and so they must navigate regulations and protocols when integrating new technologies and systems. Migrating to the cloud is no exception.
From HIPAA to GDPR, regulations add another layer of complication to an already tall task. IT teams who have managed successful cloud onboarding often appoint a compliance taskforce at the onset of the project to ensure regulations are followed. For example, the taskforce ensures that there are physical and technical safeguards for electronically protected health information (ePHI) and that patient data is securely stored. This delineation of roles allows IT teams to deploy cloud management systems quickly and securely.
Ask About Certifications
Cloud management platforms come in all shapes and sizes. When considering your options, remember to ask about vendors’ information management and data protection certifications. For instance, the ISO/IEC 27001 standard outlines internationally recognized best practices for information security management systems. For a vendor to receive and maintain their certification, they must demonstrate an understanding of the protocols and participate in ongoing audits. Furthermore, there’s a significant overlap between the ISO/IEC standard and the requirements for HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR compliance, so inquiring about certifications helps to reinforce your compliance taskforce’s efforts.
Advance Patient Care With The Cloud
Cloud computing will transform the future of global health, and cloud management is a key — but often overlooked — component. It brings countless benefits from improving network connectivity to safeguarding patient information to optimizing IT resources with centralized, systems management — all to help medical staff deliver quality care. While it may seem like a daunting task, leading-healthcare institutions are embracing the cloud.