By Shirette Stockdall
Healthcare organizations across the world have been rocked by the new expectations set upon them due to COVID-19. A lot of facilities were already operating on a tight budget, but with the need of telemedicine rising, organizations found themselves needing more in terms of bandwidth, data transfers and colocation services – putting more stress on their already limited budgets.
This is where outsourcing data center services can relieve healthcare facilities. By outsourcing their colocation needs and IT specialists to a reliable data center, hospitals and clinics do not need to find the money, time or space for data center equipment or specialists to deploy and operate the equipment. Furthermore, the company can save money on energy costs – as a cooling system must be set in place when hosting data center equipment for it to remain functional. Cooling even a small data center space can get costly fast, especially in the summer. This also gives hospitals and clinics more physical room within their facilities to use as they see fit.
In addition to the points made above, an outside data center can also provide healthcare facilities with fortified security, scalability, reliability and flexibility.
According to a 2020 report from the Herjavec Group, ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations were predicted to quadruple between 2017 and 2020. Additionally, the report states the number will increase to 5X by 2021. A 2019 report from the HIPAA Journal, noted email fraud attacks within the healthcare industry increased by 473% within the past two years.
As evidenced above, cybercrime is an ever-increasing threat to medical facilities and the patients they treat. If only a small team is put in place to handle an entire company’s infrastructure needs, an attacker might be able to breach into a specific service before the onsite IT staff can realize what happened. This puts the already small team into a reactive chain where they are trying to spend as much time and energy fixing the situation while ignoring other necessary projects, or they are forced to continue hiring staff to fix, modernize and operate the infrastructure on an emergency basis.
Where outsourcing colocation and IT staff can help is by having staff at the ready to manage the service on their behalf. Data centers are required to have 24/7 staff to assist in these emergency situations. Putting a healthcare facility in a more proactive position rather than reactive if, or when, a cyber-attack hits.
Scalability has become a key feature in recent months as telemedicine exploded due to COVID-19. More and more providers have opted for having virtual visits, which means an increased need for connectivity and data solutions. This situation has taught IT and healthcare professionals not only to plan for data needs their companies need today, but also for the future.
An outsourced data center can help in this regard by providing hospitals and clinics with burstable services. This allows organizations the freedom to meet periods of peak demand and incrementally add capacity as needed rather than put forward a significant capital investment.
One of the biggest advantages of outsourcing colocation and networking needs is the ability to have 24/7/365 access to their organization’s records. Those who work in healthcare rarely work within a 9 to 5 operation, and even those who do find themselves working at home during their off hours. Around the clock IT staffing is critical in this industry, so having a dedicated team to handle these services can result in an increase of uptime not achievable for a facility using a single data center within their own building.
With the grunt work of network and data management out of the way, healthcare organizations have the flexibility to utilize their in-house IT staff to other initiatives. The facility can have more people focused on ways to provide better care for their patients in all regards – which in the end is the core mission of the organization.
Outsourcing may be a daunting endeavor, especially with the thought of an outside organization having access to patient data, but in the end, the benefits can help a healthcare facility provide better care and security for their patients. Increased security, better scalability options, reliability and flexibility support the core mission of healthcare – putting patients first.