Expanding Digital Connections to Boost Healthcare Innovation

Improving patient care through digital transformation and interconnected ecosystems

Rajaneesh Kurup
Expanding Digital Connections to Boost Healthcare Innovation

Historically ranked as one of the least digitized industries, Healthcare has jumped up the list to become one of the sectors that have undergone the most extensive digital transformations over the last two years as a result of being on the frontlines of the pandemic. And this momentum is set to continue. Global trends, such as aging populations, shortage of skilled professionals, the prevalence of chronic diseases, and rising costs along with health data volumes, are driving the relentless pace of technology adoption in the sector.

For healthcare providers looking to transform their infrastructure, a critical component underpinning their successful digital transformation is connectivity. These legacy systems now need to integrate with or be replaced by newer, more reliable and powerful technologies.

Enhancing connections and capabilities

In today’s digital cloud-enabled economy, the ability to seamlessly and securely interconnect with key stakeholders, businesses and technology service providers has become fundamental to healthcare organizations. It holds the key to new capabilities for driving improved performance, scalability and continuous innovation to enable more efficient services or better patient care.

Establishing direct digital engagement with patients and caregivers, as well as connectivity to technology service providers, accelerates healthcare organizations’ collaborative efforts in developing the right treatments and making health services more accessible.

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The pilot trial of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s virtual hospital demonstrated the value of having such direct connections. By using wearable devices to monitor its patients, the Australian hospital is able to not only check on Covid-19 patients’ temperatures and oxygen levels, it can also automatically dispatch ambulances to their homes when their condition worsened.

Patients are also able to gain deeper insights into their health conditions via an app that the hospital created to capture vital health data. This app could be accessed easily using the loaned tablet device from the hospital.[1]

Enabling interconnections with other healthcare institutions further augmented healthcare organizations’ capabilities. For the Children’s Cancer Institute in Australia, sharing data with its research partners has been essential to developing cancer treatments and personalized medicine for its young patients. Previously, the data had to be loaded into physical memory disks and mailed to its partners. Weeks would pass before the institute would receive any return information. To speed up this process, they worked with Equinix to establish near-instant data sharing amongst the globally dispersed research teams by integrating and interconnecting globally distributed multi-hybrid cloud infrastructure[2].

Supporting new patient services

Equinix’s interconnected platform connects its users to more than 300 healthcare and life sciences organizations globally. Healthcare organizations also gain access to Equinix tools and services to grow and scale their capabilities. By enabling data to be shared securely and at the right time, across geographically distant locations, Equinix equips healthcare organizations to achieve new levels of efficiency, security and agility, as well as derive maximum value from their technology investments.

In its quest to enhance its digital service offerings across 12 hospitals and 300 care centers, Sentara Healthcare realized that the systems upgrade would put unsustainable demand on its existing networks.[3] To overcome this, Sentara chose Platform Equinix to provide access to multiple cloud systems that would support the development of a stable telehealth services system. With this, Sentara was able to manage a 1500% rise in telemedicine appointments during the pandemic.

As Equinix’s platform encompasses many active enterprise and service provider ecosystems, healthcare institutions can easily and securely interconnect with different content, digital media, cloud, network service providers, payment networks and other healthcare and life sciences ecosystem players who are also on Platform Equinix.

In Sentara’s case, Equinix’s tools provided access to Microsoft Azure for EMR and analytics workloads and Amazon Web Services to deploy Amazon’s Alexa devices for Sentara’s care facility patients to access the voice-controlled virtual assistant.

Interconnecting to these ecosystems via Equinix, rather than working in silos, reduces costs, improves user experience and drives innovation through secure medical data sharing. Studies show that healthcare providers saved 60 to 70% in cloud connectivity and network traffic costs by leveraging an interconnection oriented architecture.[4]

The time is now for healthcare organizations to seize the opportunities that come with digital transformation and establishing new interconnections for moving the industry towards more efficient operations, improved patient care and accelerated health innovations.

[1] https://www.equinix.sg/resources/whitepapers/greater-healthcare-collaboration

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1TJ-95wZug

[3] https://www.equinix.sg/resources/whitepapers/healthcare-life-sciences-ecosystem

[4] https://www.equinix.sg/resources/analyst-reports/interconnection-total-economic-impact-study

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Rajaneesh Kurup Director, Equinix Research Group, APAC
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