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Four Infrastructure Trends in Healthcare

By: Vanessa Carmean, senior manager, Healthcare Strategic Partnerships

If you’re in healthcare, you’ve no doubt seen your share of medical analogies and buzzwords in media and marketing. Here’s a headline from a recent issue of Wired Magazine that caught my eye: “Health Care is Hemorrhaging Data.” It’s an apt description for the growing volumes of data that mobile devices, wearables and electronic medical files are generating. Healthcare is rapidly approaching the zettabyte era in terms of the enormous amount of data generated — by some estimates, about 30 percent of all the world’s stored data is in the healthcare industry.

The good news, as the Wired article points out: the greater the volume of data, the better the intelligent and predictive capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics. AI is already helping doctors diagnose specific conditions and provide intelligent patient care. Over the past five years, advances in DNA sequencing technology have made genomic analysis more efficient and cost effective — leading to great potential for precision medicine.

These technological trends are exciting and disruptive, changing all aspects of patient care and healthcare management. The extensive computational resources, storage and transport for these advanced technologies also require infrastructure with increasing levels of performance, capacity and resilience. The challenge for the healthcare clients we talk to at Zayo, responsible for the day-to-day management of their network, is to take a forward-looking view. That’s a tough task given the daily demands of supporting mission-critical services, patient care and digital records and ensuring communications with secure, reliable, resilient infrastructure. And as is true in every sector, there are time, resource and cost constraints to manage.

Here are four infrastructure trends that we’ve observed over the past year that are helping IT and technology teams manage their infrastructure today — and enable tomorrow’s exciting innovation.

1. Healthcare providers are turning to dark fiber.

Over the past couple of years, we have had more health system clients request or evaluate dark fiber to connect their hospitals and data centers. Dark fiber provides high-capacity, fully scalable bandwidth that provides the providers with direct operational control of their network. In cases where we have used a dark fiber ring configuration, hospitals have experienced significant decreases in downtime.

2. Cloud adoption is on the rise.

With the significant M&A activity in healthcare, some providers are managing multiple data centers. And for many, it’s a business they don’t necessarily want to be in. Increasingly, providers are turning to third-party colocation vendors or cloud-based solutions and infrastructure to process and store digital records, images and other data. Private cloud solutions can meet the stringent privacy and security requirements of healthcare providers and are reliable enough for even life critical applications. The real estate once used for internal data centers? One provider we know turned a former data center into more space for patient beds.

3. Security continues to be a priority.

Security breaches cost the healthcare industry approximately $5.6 billion a year, according to recent estimates. Our clients are using a multi-pronged approach to protect their system from breaches. Encryption, firewalls, anti-virus protection and employee education are all important components of effective cyber security processes. From our perspective, it all begins with an infrastructure foundation that is dedicated, secure and resilient.

4. Interoperability is key.

As devices, applications, systems and networks have proliferated, interoperability is key to ensuring making healthcare more efficient. There’s simply no tolerance for failure. Healthcare providers are partnering with companies that understand the importance of interoperability standards and can architect solutions that work together.

Vanessa Carmean has a PhD in Neuroscience and has a background in entrepreneurship, healthcare, and smart cities. She has focused her career at the intersection of healthcare, science, and technology and is passionate about the ability of infrastructure to enable innovation. She leads Public Services, Healthcare, and Utility strategic marketing for Zayo Group.

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