In Digital Healthcare, the Right Network Matters

Network infrastructure gets patient data where it needs to be quickly and securely

Leigh Sitzman
Stephanie Trunzo
In Digital Healthcare, the Right Network Matters

Today, healthcare organizations have access to more patient and clinical data than ever before, fundamentally changing how they operate. Whether it’s hospitals looking to establish care plans, research institutes looking to understand diseases, or pharmaceutical companies looking to formulate new drugs, all entities that make up the digital healthcare ecosystem depend on data to do what they do better.

Besides access to health data, the digital healthcare ecosystem should also provide a connectivity fabric that fosters collaboration. Every organization has a role to play in pursuit of one common goal: to drive better patient outcomes. This means that all the different ecosystem participants—no matter where they’re located in the world—need to be able to move data quickly and exchange it freely and securely with one another. This collaboration often must happen on a global scale, which means data needs to traverse very long distances to get from where it’s stored to where it’s used.

For this reason, it’s extremely important healthcare organizations have access to modernized networking solutions to bridge the gap between storage infrastructure and compute infrastructure. The digital healthcare landscape consists of an intricate web of different systems, devices, and technologies, all of which play a role in creating, modifying, or processing healthcare data. That data needs to be able to flow across the ecosystem quickly and securely. Network infrastructure is the vital conduit enabling this to happen.

Patient data is a treasure trove of information, valuable in the healthcare industry because it contains insights providers need to create personalized care plans. If providers can’t access the data, they won’t be able to take advantage of those insights to treat their patients, and patient outcomes will suffer as a result. To ensure consistent, uninterrupted access to data, the healthcare industry needs modernized network infrastructure that’s efficient, scalable, and reliable.

Healthcare networks must be efficient

Whether it’s a physician trying to access patient histories via an electronic health record (EHR) system or a diagnostic device sending test results back to a centralized server, every aspect of the modern healthcare system depends on networking infrastructure that enables frictionless data transfer and communication over long distances. For example, the Children’s Cancer Institute in Australia collaborates with research partners around the world to gain a deeper understanding of childhood cancer that’s backed by global health data.

Moving data across worldwide locations creates challenges around latency. The longer the data has to travel, the greater the potential for delay and disruption. A high-performance network infrastructure that uses dedicated, private connections can help offset the impact of latency. In turn, this helps ensure healthcare decision-makers always have access to the most current data available, when and where they need it.

Healthcare networks must be scalable

Modern healthcare is awash in data. Imagine the volume of data created from wearables and diagnostic devices, multiplied by every patient seen every day, at every facility across the globe. The amount of data created by connected devices in the healthcare industry is increasing exponentially, posing both an opportunity and a business challenge. Of course, the opportunity for care providers and researchers alike will be access to a deeper level of insights than ever before, enabling better-realized outcomes. The challenge is simply that healthcare organizations will need more computing and storage capacity in more places to keep up with this influx of new data.

In many ways, digital healthcare has more in common with a data science project than it does with a traditional biological experiment, and healthcare organizations need to design their digital infrastructure accordingly. This means having access to highly scalable infrastructure in key locations, but to make the most of their compute and storage, they also need network infrastructure that can keep up with that growth. Traditional network infrastructure based on physical connections alone will inevitably become a bottleneck. To take advantage of the opportunity that big data presents, the healthcare industry needs to adopt a digital infrastructure strategy that scales quickly and easily.

Healthcare networks must be reliable

Today’s healthcare organizations understand that regulations governing patient privacy are paramount—but also complex and demanding—in many different jurisdictions throughout the world. A high-performance healthcare network doesn’t count for much if that same network leaves data in transit exposed to unauthorized access. An ideal network solution for healthcare will move patient data securely over encrypted channels across multiple clouds, including support for encryption on a global scale.

Another aspect of reliable network infrastructure is the ability to ensure data integrity. Healthcare organizations must feel confident about the data they access—that their data will not be altered or tampered with during the transfer process. Failing to ensure data integrity could lead to providers making decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete information, which in turn will lead to clinical errors that negatively impact patient outcomes.

Finally, a reliable network needs to ensure uninterrupted access to patient and clinical data at all times, even in the aftermath of a natural disaster or other unplanned outage. To achieve this, the network must provide built-in redundancy and automated failover mechanisms.

Moving from systems of record and engagement to systems of intelligence

Transitioning to a modern digital infrastructure is critical for healthcare organizations to utilize and benefit from systems of intelligence that are powered by data.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is built to run every healthcare workload—from legacy application systems to data-science driven and modern machine-learning enabled services—to deliver more informed care choices, predict patient risk factors, and deliver a better, more patient-focused healthcare experience. These capabilities are reinvigorating health systems as they transform their legacy systems of record and engagement into modern systems of intelligence.

Technology developers in a healthcare organization must continually evaluate their own technology stack and create a roadmap to transformation that carefully balances a strategic outlook and business needs while drawing value from all three systems via operational modernization, digital transformation, and data agility.

Oracle and Equinix collaborate to power new possibilities in data-driven healthcare

The collaboration between Oracle and Equinix provides a powerful example of what’s possible when you bring together value-added healthcare services with agile, flexible networking solutions.

Equinix Fabric® is a software-defined interconnection solution that allows healthcare providers and their ecosystem partners to create virtual connections in a matter of minutes across more than 50 global metros. As the volume of data they need to handle continues to increase, organizations can easily scale their virtual connections to keep up. Oracle Health uses Equinix Fabric and other Equinix networking solutions to support the following data-driven use cases:

  • Real-time remote patient monitoring (RPM) for chronic disease management
  • Telemedicine for virtual consultations and diagnostics
  • Predictive modeling for patient outcomes
  • Treatment plans tailored to individual patient profiles
  • Optimized inventory management across the healthcare supply chain
  • Efficient and equitable distribution of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals

The collaboration between Equinix and Oracle Health helps ensure that all Oracle value-added solutions get the efficiency, scalability and reliability they need to perform at their best. The end result is the potential for better patient outcomes and more cost-effective care.

To learn more about how Equinix and Oracle Cloud are coming together to deliver powerful interconnection solutions to support digital enterprises—in healthcare and all other industries—read our joint solution brief today.

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Leigh Sitzman Business Development Director
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Stephanie Trunzo Guest Author: SVP & GM Oracle Health
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