Healthcare organizations across the world, be it providers, payers, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies or medical research institutions, are overwhelmed with the large amounts of electronic data and the certainty that it will only keep increasing. Organizations are fully aware that storing, managing and harnessing the power of the large datasets, without breaking their IT budgets, is critical to boosting their bottom lines and ensuring success in the long run, and are making a reasonable investment in advanced healthcare IT infrastructure solutions to achieve this.

Finances being stressed due to increasing costs and multiple ongoing improvement initiatives struggling to attract funds, organizations are under pressure to cut back on hardware costs to ease IT budgets. As hospitals and health systems increase their investment in advanced software and health IT technologies, as a priority, they seek ways to cut hardware costs wherever feasible.

Healthcare organizations can reduce their IT hardware costs by following some simple prudent steps.

Virtualization and cloud solutions
Despite being cost-effective and practical means of reducing complexity and cost healthcare organizations, are rather slow to adopt virtualization and cloud computing technologies. Since the hardware is increasingly becoming obsolete in favor of more flexible and scalable solutions, healthcare organizations need to make a phased and planned move for adopting virtualization and cloud computing solutions.

Cloud based solutions allow healthcare organizations to lease storage space instead of investing in owned servers, thereby significantly lowering hardware costs related server maintenance, electricity and hiring IT staff to maintain physical servers. Most cloud solutions offer a secure environment that is HIPAA compliant and meets government security standards for data transmission and storage.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
The VDI software solution separates the desktop environment from physical devices, creating more efficiency and flexibility within the workplace. VDI allows clinicians and nurses access to their desktops via mobile devices making access to clinical data and patient information easy, quick and secure. In a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) deployment scenario staff can access their desktops using their own devices.

Additionally, healthcare providers can further lower costs by cutting the budget for new hardware purchases and instead leverage ‘thin clients’ or ‘zero clients’, along with deploying a centralized control. VDI is also preferred when it comes to ensuring data security as information never resides on the device used to access it.

Separating hardware from software
While most healthcare providers and payers may not be able to manage a full-fledged data center, they can still manage data storage by separating the hardware from the software that manages it. By segregating data storage programming controls (software) and hardware, organizations will be able to share storage space across physical servers within a network, without dedicating servers to designated tasks. This allows administrators better visibility and control to build an IT strategy where existing servers are used more efficiently without having to purchase additional dedicated servers.

Choosing the right healthcare IT partner
Partnering with a solution company that helps develop and implement data storage, management, sharing, and analytic strategy, using the latest technologies and agile methodologies, customized to the business needs of the organization is critical. Health organizations must focus on building an alliance with an ‘information solution company‘, instead relying on an IT vendor, to manage their IT infrastructures and build solutions that can achieve more with less, automate complex processes, ensure data privacy, mitigate risk and maximize compliance.

Cutting cost on IT hardware, especially in larger organizations, can have the visible impact on bottom lines and process improvements. In the new healthcare IT landscape healthcare organizations have to be mindful of developing a robust infrastructure architecture that supports dynamic solutions that are both flexible as well as scalable.

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