Why Do Hospitals Need a Data Center Strategy to Thrive in the Digital Era?

By Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief, Revolutionized
X: @ReadRevMag

Today’s world revolves around data. Hospitals are no exception, especially as they embrace digitalization to raise care standards and become more efficient. Amid this shift, having a formal data center strategy in health care is all the more crucial.

Data center strategies are easy to overlook. Businesses and individual users alike rely extensively on data centers without ever thinking about how to run or optimize them. As health care becomes increasingly digital, that needs to change. Here’s why.

Hospitals Increasingly Depend on Data Centers

Hospitals need a data center strategy because they can no longer function without these resources. Nearly all acute care hospitals and 78% of office-based physicians now use EHRs. Most health care organizations have also embraced telehealth to some extent. Both of these technologies rely on data centers.

As hospitals store more patient records and host more mission-critical processes on the cloud or on-premise data centers, any issues with these systems become increasingly disruptive. Providers must ensure their digital resources work quickly, securely and effectively to maintain a high standard of care. That assurance is nearly impossible without a well-defined, organization-specific data strategy.

Health Care Carries Unique Data Challenges

Another driver behind the need for data center strategy in health care is this industry’s unique data requirements. On top of handling massive data volume, hospitals must meet stringent regulatory standards covering this information. Any oversight in a hospital’s data center operations could result in costly HIPAA violations or other legal issues.

Cybersecurity poses another challenge. Hospitals are a favorite target for cybercriminals, and in this industry, cyberattacks can endanger people’s lives in addition to jeopardizing their privacy. In light of those risks, hospitals need to meet higher security standards than most other sectors, all while ensuring authorized users can still access sensitive data quickly.

Outages Are Costly

Data center outages are common with insufficient strategies. If hospitals don’t have enough redundancy and backup systems in their data centers, EHRs, cloud tools and other digital services could suddenly become inaccessible. That’d be costly in any business, but it’s even more urgent in an industry as time-sensitive and privacy-centered as health care.

Preventing these outages requires complex data center decision-making. Hospitals must find the best way to keep servers cool, which isn’t always straightforward because more expensive air compressors are often more efficient over time. Determining which data requires which kinds of backups, how much power a data center needs and how to deliver that energy also all play into reliability.

Data Center Needs Vary

Theoretically, a hospital could simply rely on a trusted data center partner to provide sufficient security, regulatory compliance and server reliability according to general best practices. The problem is every hospital has unique data needs. Since every situation is different, each one requires a situation-specific strategy.

Data volumes, types, cloud systems, preferred storage media and more vary widely between different hospitals. A one-size-fits-all data center strategy won’t account for these discrepancies. Consequently, each facility needs a plan to ensure its data centers meet these specific needs while accounting for industry-wide demands for security and regulatory compliance.

Hospital Data Demands Will Only Grow From Here

Finally, the need for data center strategy in health care is growing because data demands show no signs of slowing. Health care already generates 30% of the world’s data, and this data’s compound annual growth rate will reach a staggering 36% by 2025. That’s almost 10% faster than the overall global data growth rate.

As these data volumes grow and digital tools like telehealth expand, so will laws regulating them. Consequently, juggling digital efficiency with privacy and regulatory compliance will become even more of a challenge. Developing a data strategy now can help hospitals equip themselves for this future, where these plans will be all the more critical.

Health Care Organizations Need a Data Center Strategy

Data is the world’s most valuable resource, so a good data center strategy is important for any business. Hospitals — which have more data and higher standards than most — face even more pressure to embrace these plans. Without them, these organizations can quickly face significant operational and legal challenges.

Creating a solid data center strategy begins with knowing why it’s so important. Once hospitals realize the need for such a plan, they can work with IT professionals and cloud partners to form one that works for their needs.