Uncertainty rules huge sectors of the global health care industry, and politics is playing its part.
In the U.S., legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) is being debated in the Senate. Meanwhile in the UK, Brexit has the National Health Service (NHS) and international companies with UK workers questioning future NHS staffing, funding and research levels.
These politically-driven uncertainties are amplifying the challenges healthcare IT organizations already face from various sources, including technology, patients, employees and regulators. Many are turning to the cloud to help with daily operations and future strategies. Still, without the right IT architecture as a foundation, cloud environments cannot operate with maximum impact. An interconnection-first strategy is essential for the performance and stability healthcare companies need as they deal with conditions they can’t always control.
Cloud providers are stepping up
Here’s a more detailed look at the chronic challenges that healthcare organizations face:
- Increasing pressure to comply with regulations that are meant to increase information privacy, but which also increase complexity and IT costs, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) in the U.S. and the pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU.
- A growing emphasis on overall cost reduction, which is having a significant impact on information technology departments
- The continuing requirement – in spite of cost restraints – to provide an IT environment that delivers performance, reliability and excellent access to both suppliers and clients
- New devices, new software and new locations, which organizations must account for to meet client demand for secure access to health information, at any time, anywhere
The requirements to meet these challenges are substantial, and cloud offers the only way to do it while controlling costs, improving scalability, and, if the environment is configured and operated correctly, increasing overall application reliability. So far, cloud providers are stepping up to make sure healthcare IT organizations know this.
For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been helping healthcare organizations by compiling a list of services in a Business Associate Addendum (BAA) that is designed to allow them to keep protected health information secure. This includes supporting encrypted data both at rest and in flight. Recently, AWS announced that the AWS Direct Connect service has been added to the BAA. AWS Direct Connect plus the Equinix Cloud Exchange allows healthcare providers to develop hybrid clouds to manage sensitive data within secure Equinix data centers. It also provides direct and secure access to AWS, where they can leverage the flexibility, scalability and cost-savings of a public cloud.
Microsoft Azure is another example of a cloud provider touting its commitment to health data security. It presents its cloud platform as optimal for collaborating between wearable device providers and the analytics services behind devices that offer real-time fitness tracking and tips. Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, with the Equinix Cloud Exchange, also enables the creation of hybrid cloud infrastructures so healthcare organizations can privately manage data, while directly and securely interconnecting to Azure public cloud services.
Regardless of the cloud provider, an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy can help organizations better manage today’s challenges and whatever is ahead because it puts direct and secure interconnection first.
An IOA framework, deployed on Platform Equinix™, moves companies beyond traditional IT architectures, built around a centralized corporate data center, and provides a more agile, distributed approach. It prescribes direct and secure interconnection and deployment of IT infrastructures at the digital edge, where commerce, population centers and digital ecosystems meet.
At Equinix, we’ve worked hard to cultivate vital business ecosystems on our global interconnection platform, Platform Equinix™, that can link healthcare organizations together in multicloud computing environments. This enables faster interconnection between data sources, analytics engines and caregivers, for faster patient insights and care. Or it can provide a platform for industry collaboration and innovation. In addition, Platform Equinix extends across 175+ data centers in 44 global markets, giving healthcare companies a range of geographic locations to choose from as they meet data sovereignty requirements for sensitive healthcare information.
Healthcare is full of uncertainties, but an optimized IT infrastructure based on an IOA strategy built on Platform Equinix can help industry organizations ensure that superior, secure, cost-effective connectivity isn’t one of them.
For more details about how an IOA strategy can help the healthcare industry, read our Healthcare Industry Solution Brief.
And to get caught up on important news and events in the healthcare industry, check out our Forum page, The Future of Health IT.