Meeting digital health needs with the right digital infrastructure

2020 has been one of the toughest years for the healthcare industry. Many healthcare providers have had to rethink how they serve their patients, access systems securely, and innovate in services and care delivery.

During the webinar “The Key to Effectively Harnessing Digitalization in Healthcare” on June 23 last year, Raj Kurup, Head of Digital Healthcare Strategy at Equinix Asia-Pacific and Chad Rajapakse, Head of client account in healthcare and the public sector for Accenture Australia, highlighted the need for digital infrastructure to meet today’s growing digital health needs.

David Stupple, National Director of ICT at Calvary Health Care, also joined the discussion talking about the hospital group’s digital transformation.

The sudden shift to digital

If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it’s allowed health systems to transform faster than they likely would have in the past, Stupple said.

It was more good management than luck that Calvary was able to set up private cloud infrastructure two weeks before lockdowns were instituted across Australia last year. This foundation also enabled the hospital network to surf the pandemic wave early.

“I think leveraging private or public cloud has allowed us to be agile,” Stupple said.

Kurup added that navigation was not smooth for some healthcare organizations. Those operating on legacy systems struggled to innovate their digital foundations to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“It wasn’t something that a lot of them had planned. It’s not a business continuity plan that a lot of them had on their books. So it was quite something at the time. ‘unexpectedly that they had to settle,” Kurup said.

This is why, for Kurup, building the “right” infrastructure or digital foundation is quite critical.

“Because if you don’t have the right base, then what you’re going to add more [of existing infrastructure] is essentially more inefficiency; this is going to add more challenges of flexibility, cost and also opening up more security risks,” he said.

Building Interconnectivity and interoperability

The traditional approach of running data centers may “not adequately address” the growing demand for digital health, Kurup explained.

To meet these digital health needs, it is crucial to ensure the interconnectivity and interoperability of systems. The key to doing this, Kurup said, is moving from a “fixed, siled” system to a “more distributed and dynamic” architecture.

Access to “rich ecosystems” is imperative to connect and exchange data efficiently or to offer new digital health services. Citing Equinix’s study conducted last year, Kurup said “Healthcare continues to be one of the fastest growing industries when it comes to embracing interconnection, which essentially means that the value ecosystem for healthcare is growing.”

According to Kurup, interconnection not only helps improve performance and achieve scale, but also enables rapid innovation through service integrations.

Digital infrastructure enables emerging technologies

With digital infrastructure in place, Calvary, for example, was able to perform remote monitoring of patients at home in Adelaide, South Australia. Its “hospital at home” project began in December in partnership with MediBank. The service has so far covered more than 500 patients, who have given “excellent feedback” on the arrangement.

Stupple used to think that using emerging technologies that enable innovation in care, like remote monitoring, was a “bit of a fantasy.”

“But now we’re looking at all the different types of IoT devices, Bluetooth-enabled devices,” he said.

Rajapakse and Kurup noted the acceleration in the digitization of healthcare in recent months. Accenture has helped accelerate vaccine deployment by accelerating application development for clinicians. In the case of Equinix, most customers have increased their adoption of hybrid multicloud platforms, which add more value to their core infrastructures.

To learn more about how Equinix can help healthcare organizations, click here.

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