Posted by: Jenny Laurello
application delivery controller, Cloud computing, EHR implementation, Health care applications and vendor organizations, Storage and PACS
Guest post by Apurva Dave, vice president of products and marketing, stingray business unit, Riverbed Technology
Cloud adoption is changing the face of health care IT, among other industries. Many health care organizations and providers are rapidly adopting IT solutions, including electronic health records (EHRs) and picture archiving and communications systems (PACs), despite being considered an industry behind the technological times. In fact, the health care cloud computing market itself will be worth a staggering $5.4 billion by 2017, according to MarketsandMarkets.
Health care gets cloudy
A KLAS study found that 71% of health care providers have implemented cloud or plan to in the future. Moving to a virtual environment brings various challenges, though it also presents a significant opportunity for health care IT managers to improve the scalability and efficiency of their services. One of the biggest challenges is working around legacy appliances and managing applications, such as EHRs and PACs, in multiple environments.
Health care providers adopting cloud technologies can arm themselves with software-based solutions to keep their IT services running smoothly and seamlessly as they migrate to the cloud. This is more important than ever in health care, where uptime and performance of applications is critical to patient care.
Application performance must be top of mind with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reporting that adoption of EHRs is around 55%. Nearly 75% of adopters report enhanced patient care, with IT playing an essential role in this encouraging figure. Accessibility and performance are two of many elements which determine the success of the applications hosted in the cloud, and a lack of either one can be detrimental for health care providers.
Medication type and dosage and other crucial decisions need to be made immediately, and a slow-loading EMR or, worse, one that does not load could be perilous. Highly disruptive consequences of poor application performance include long office wait times, and slow patient turnover due to downtime, though some issues are less severe. More time and resources are spent processing medical images and other diagnostic data due to poor-performing applications, as opposed to focusing on quality patient care, without a cloud-aware application delivery solution in place.
Software solutions to the rescue
Health care organizations migrating to cloud-based environments need solutions that are as flexible as the environment itself. Many are moving away from fixed and static hardware solutions and looking to software-based solutions to ensure health care application performance.
Software solutions provide the versatility, scalability, and reliability needed to operate in cloud environments. An application delivery controller (ADC) is an essential solution in an IT manager’s toolkit. ADCs make applications faster, more reliable, and more secure with their load balancing and traffic management capabilities. An ADC ensures that applications can handle unexpected peaks in traffic while maintaining overall performance. A cloud-aware software ADC provides a single point of management for accelerating enterprise applications hosted on cloud servers. This means 24/7 availability of essential applications, prevention of system downtime, quick access to data in emergency situations, and the ability to keep patients and providers as informed as possible to prevent misdiagnoses and ensure the highest quality of care.
Healthy organization uses software ADC
CareCore National, a benefits management company focused on health care treatments, is one organization that has significantly improved accessibility to its internal database of health care information using a software ADC. It is able to maintain uptime even during periods of high traffic when many of its employees are accessing cloud applications. The software ADC has helped the organization improve internal operations and cost savings, as the success of CareCore is contingent on its web services.
There are great advantages for health care organizations when deploying cloud services, including cost savings, scalability, and faster access to critical patient data. However, the move to cloud means legacy appliances must be left behind and more flexible solutions, like software ADCs, should be embraced to ensure health care application performance is enabling top-quality patient care.