Data-gulping technologies from EHRs to PACS to wireless sensors are flooding healthcare organizations with electronic data. To prevent their data centers from becoming completely inundated, healthcare organizations need to ensure they have a sound patient data management strategy in place — along with plenty of storage capacity.

Increasingly, that means turning to virtualization and cloud computing solutions, despite lingering concerns about privacy and security. Almost a third of healthcare I.T. decision makers already use cloud apps and services, according to Imprivata’s annual survey, and Kalorama Information predicts spending on healthcare cloud services will increase 21% for the next five years — double that of overall healthcare I.T. spending.

Frank Scafidi, Vice President of Information Systems and CIO of Georgetown Hospital System in Georgetown, South Carolina, is starting to see more vendors offer cloud-only applications. He’s already implemented a cloud-based revenue cycle solution and wound care application, which have provided an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons.

“The pros are you don’t have the application in your data center, so you don’t need as much hardware, and the cloud vendor maintains the security and keeps the applications up to date,” he points out.

But he also says security concerns can be a big con, noting, “In healthcare, we’re very suspicious about not having control over our data, and it’s ingrained that we’re concerned about unauthorized access.”

In the face of the growing influx of data, Scafidi offers six tips for optimizing data center performance:

  1. Leverage virtualization.
  2. Stay ahead of your memory and storage requirements.
  3. Put procedures in place to manage problems that arise.
  4. Test your backup and restore systems frequently.
  5. Evaluate and upgrade security strategies annually.
  6. Hire great staff.

Scafidi is also constantly on the lookout for cost-effective ways to expand storage without sacrificing access to critical data. Next on his agenda? “I want to move to a hierarchal system that can provide lots of low-cost storage and high performance, SAN-free, for data we need to have highly available,” he says.

Read more about smart data management strategies in CDW Healthcare’s summer 2014 Health Tech Report magazine.

Learn more about CDW Healthcare’s data management offerings.

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