How to Make Your Healthcare Data Migration a Success
By: Alan Seal on July 10, 2020
The healthcare industry is one of the most exciting candidates for digital transformation. Long burdened by legacy technology systems and wasteful inefficiencies, the industry is finally embracing the potential of big data, cloud connectivity, and the internet of things (IoT). In order to take advantage of those innovations, however, many organizations must first look inward and develop a healthcare data migration strategy that will provide them with a more flexible, reliable, and scalable infrastructure.
The Unique Requirements of Migrating Health Information Systems
There are few IT environments more complex than those found within the healthcare industry. Due to a combination of path dependency and compliance requirements, any given healthcare or hospital system may use a variety of technologies and many outdated legacy systems to manage its data. In many cases, these deployments are incredibly inefficient, but they’ve become so entrenched that developing a plan to migrate data into a more manageable solution seems like an impossible task.
Any healthcare data solution must be able to meet a number of distinct challenges if it’s going to be successful at delivering improved patient outcomes:
Growing Data Volumes
Healthcare organizations are gathering massive amounts of data, both structured and unstructured. With so many practices and hospitals now using digital imaging and video recordings, storing and managing this massive volume of data has become a significant problem for legacy IT infrastructure. As more providers deploy edge IoT technology to gather data, this challenge will become even more critical.
Storing and categorizing data is only one piece of the puzzle. In order to realize the full potential of unstructured health data, powerful analytics tools must be deployed to analyze it and identify meaningful trends and insights that can be applied to clinical care. This is especially important given the growing amount of personal health data that’s being fed into healthcare systems.
When they were first introduced, the great hope of electronic health records (EHR) systems was their potential to allow patient information to flow freely and easily through the medical system. Records could be transmitted from one provider to another with minimal difficulty, greatly improving the overall patient experience and making faster, better-informed care possible. Due to competing standards and security concerns, that potential has yet to be fully realized. As long as many providers continue to rely upon legacy IT infrastructure, the promise of interoperability will remain elusive.
Data Privacy and Compliance Requirements
Keeping patient health and personal information secure remains one of the primary concerns for many healthcare providers. Given the significant penalties associated with HIPAA violations, it’s no wonder that most companies are hesitant to transition away from legacy infrastructure that they’re comfortable using. Status quo bias can be a powerful force when it comes to assessing risk, even if migrating essential systems to a new data solution might deliver better assurances when it comes to patient privacy, data security, and data availability.
System uptime reliability and data availability are absolutely mission-critical considerations for any healthcare technology solution. In the case of hospital systems, a system outage could legitimately put people’s lives at risk. Having a disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate risk should be a foundational element of any healthcare technology. Here again, the right data migration can provide invaluable tools and resources for ensuring business continuity and speedy recovery times in the event of an outage.
Best Practices to Make Your Healthcare Data Migration a Success
When a healthcare organization makes the difficult decision to undertake a data migration, it needs to take a few best practices into account to ensure a smooth transition.
Take a Long Term View
A data migration is anything but a temporary solution. While solving immediate needs is certainly important, healthcare companies should always think at least five years out when it comes to evaluating their requirements. If their migration strategy doesn’t take future capacity needs or technology trends into account, they could end up having to undertake another costly and time-consuming migration within a few years.
Identify What Needs to Move
Not all migrations require a wholesale relocation of all data assets. In some cases, certain legacy systems may be left in place or migrated into a separate location. Taking a thorough catalog of existing assets and identifying where everything needs to go (and why) will help to avoid any confusion at later stages of the migration when changes are both more difficult and more costly.
Consider Cloud Solutions
Migrating healthcare data into a cloud environment might have seemed unthinkable a decade ago, but today’s cloud providers offer far better security and reliability than their predecessors. Virtualization technology and cloud infrastructure allows healthcare companies to rapidly provision whatever computing and storage resources they need, making it much easier to “right size” their deployments. Of course, compliance requirements often make it necessary to have some physical infrastructure in place to store and manage sensitive health data. Hybrid IT environments that leverage data center connectivity and direct cloud on-ramps to build dynamic multi-clouds often provide an ideal solution to this challenge.
Set a Timetable
Any successful migration begins with a sound and highly detailed plan. This is especially true of healthcare data due to availability demands. Some data might only be able to be moved during certain hours when it isn’t being actively used. In other cases, a parallel or swing environment may need to be set up to facilitate the transfer. Eventually, the time will come to shut off existing systems and switch over fully to the new infrastructure. Understanding when those steps need to happen (and communicating them to relevant stakeholders) is essential to carrying out a migration with minimal disruption.
Experience a Seamless Healthcare Data Migration with vXchnge!
With multiple data centers across the US, vXchnge is in a unique position to facilitate healthcare data migrations in key growth markets. Our data centers are engineered for perfection to meet the exacting compliance standards of the healthcare industry and are backed up by 100% uptime SLAs to ensure continuous data availability. And thanks to the award-winning in\site intelligent monitoring platform, customers retain visibility and control over their infrastructure, allowing them to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and take action to further their business goals. To learn more about how our facilities are an ideal partner for your healthcare business, talk to one of our colocation experts today.
About Alan Seal
Alan Seal is the VP of Engineering at vXchnge. Alan is responsible for managing teams in IT support and infrastructure, app development, QA, and ERP business systems.