Infrastructure takes many forms but, overall, it serves as the foundation of health IT. Without it, nothing would get accomplished electronically. As the technologies that rely on the various forms of infrastructure change, infrastructure itself must evolve to meet these changes.
Health IT experts estimate that the next generation of infrastructure will include enhanced analytics, completely evolved networks, distributed database offerings, and a number of other functions and features.
In many ways, infrastructure has been like the circulatory system; it used a series of pipes to pump blood to and away from the heart. The next generation of IT infrastructure, on the other hand, will behave similarly to the nervous system. It will absorb sensory information, learn from this information, and then change its behavior accordingly.
Analytics Is Key
Enhanced and automated analytics, distributed databases, application programming interfaces, and blockchain are innovative technologies hospitals are encountering throughout the IT ecosystem, and infrastructure is no exception.
Enhanced data analytics are sure to be an important aspect of the next generation of infrastructure. With mobile devices continuing to infiltrate organizations and adding data to the network, this can be daunting to many in the healthcare industry.
Enhanced data analytics software will deliver real-time, automated and contextual insights across applications, devices, and users. This combination of historical data and real-time analytics will allow organizations to learn and adapt better than ever before, to the point where problems can be detected before they happen.
A good next-generation analytics tool will do three things:
- Consist of a single user interface with an intuitive way to troubleshoot problems as they arise on the network.
- Collect real-time data from users, devices, and applications throughout the enterprise.
- Monitor the network for ways to improve efficiencies while also detecting trends that could hurt performance.
At the same time, automated analytics software will work closely alongside its network. This software will be able to recognize work patterns, improve said patterns, and make these improvements without hurting any workflows.
Blockchain and APIs
When it comes to network infrastructure and Wi-Fi, published APIs must allow access to the infrastructure at the point of connectivity. This type of direct access will allow third-party vendors and real-time location services to put apps at the front edge of the infrastructure. The result would be tag and device management occurring on the infrastructure without any impact to performance.
Google, Microsoft, AWS, and other vendors will also play a part thanks to their distributed database offerings. It’s a long shot but, if they are able to snag EHR vendors, it could allow healthcare to stop using replicated data as the basis for interoperability. This means patient data could stay wherever it was created and anyone authorized to read it could do so.
However, for this to happen, healthcare organizations and EHR vendors would have to accept that they don’t own the data in question.
Another infrastructure technology that is sure to be a major disruptor in the healthcare industry is blockchain. Medical records are a lucrative business in the underground. Constant security threats and the likelihood of providing API access to patient data make blockchain a potential solution. It would not be surprising to see APIs having to integrate some form of blockchain in the next few years.
As these technologies become commonplace in hospitals, IT infrastructure could function like a learning system and become more context-aware. If the network is able to realize the context of what is happening across all devices, users, and applications, then it could be constantly adapting, learning, and protecting. The end result will be rapid innovation, actionable insights, reduced security risks, and lowered costs through network automation.
The world is full of connected devices, so this form of automated and intuitive system is the best way to keep up with a network that is continuously growing.