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Why Colocation Improves Healthcare IT

As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every way of life around the globe, it is encouraging to know that we are living in a time where data-driven computer models can complete certain medical tasks more accurately than humans.

A recent study published in the journal “Nature” found that artificial intelligence is more accurate than medical professionals at diagnosing breast cancer through mammogram analysis. The AI program reduced false negatives by 2.7 percent and false positives by 1.2 percent.

While healthcare IT spending increases almost every year, we have rapidly entered an area where financial stability and future innovation has become the top priority for business survival. The health care industry is no different. They are dealing with increased pressure to reduce costs, improve security and reliability of patient information, and create systems that deliver better efficiency.

Medical organizations are exploring a new world of data-driven healthcare, with initiatives ranging from predicting such catastrophic epidemics as COVID-19 to improving preventive care for the chronically ill.

But behind every byte of data is a network of fiber-optic cables, servers, switches, racks, cooling equipment, power distribution infrastructure, compliance, and other systems that ensure the safe passage, processing, and storage of electronic health information.

Hospitals Turn to Colocation

Colocation provides a cost-effective solution to these challenges, employing third-party data center providers in a separate physical space, which ensures the extra security a hospital needs for its data.

A colocation provider offers a physical IT facility complete with racks, power systems with UPS backup, extensive cooling operations, and access to different types of bandwidth. They provide both virtual and physical security which is especially important in a healthcare environment.

Another added bonus is the compliance piece of the puzzle. Top colocation providers hold a gamut of compliance certification which most likely includes HIPAA and HITRUST badges geared towards healthcare.

While some organizations continue to manage their infrastructure on-premise, the tide is shifting, and data center colocation is growing. Among the reasons:

  • Data center management is not a core competency for healthcare facilities
  • Data centers are very expensive to manage, maintain, and operate
  • Healthcare organizations are under pressure to reduce spending
  • Hiring and retaining the proper expertise among IT is growing more challenge, particularly as data center technology keeps changing and advancing
  • Healthcare facilities are finding that they can reduce total cost of ownership by working with a data center colocation provider

Healthcare IT leaders are increasingly comfortable with leading outsourcing vendors in the data center colocation market, such as LightEdge.

As a top-tier colocation services provider, we provide a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers and dedicated staff onsite. Our customized and scalable services give you the control, whether you need a colocation rack, cage or custom suite now or in the future.

Data centers are the engines for many of our greatest healthcare IT accomplishments. While healthcare companies, software developers, and data analysts collaborate on new medical innovations, colocation and data center providers can deliver the behind-the-scenes support for these groundbreaking healthcare IT initiatives, especially during times of crisis.

Offering Colocation Benefits to Healthcare

Unlike traditional on-premises data centers, colocation data centers maintain and optimize core facility infrastructure such as power, networking, cooling, and space. Many colocation providers also offer remote support and expertise 24/7/365.

There are a few advantages to this setup. Firstly, the healthcare industry is free to focus less on data center management and more on their core competencies: medical research, patient care, innovation, and even crisis management.

Secondly, building and operating a data center on a DIY basis is a very risky exercise in today’s environment for businesses and municipalities. Good design, proper installation, and proper operation lead to good results.

From the organizations’ perspective, they want power to always be available, cooling to always work, and ample physical security mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to their assets with the logs to meet auditing requirements.

Leasing space from a data center that has been designed and built by specialists is much easier than attempting to own and operate an on-premise facility.

Overcoming IT Staffing

Colocation also solves many personnel challenges. Managed services from colocation providers range from basic server maintenance, while keeping full control with your team all the way up to physical assistance with receiving shipments. This could free hospitals and clinics from the challenge of hiring and training IT support staff.

Especially now that many organizations are working remotely indefinitely, it is no longer beneficial for organizations to operate their own data center on-premise. Data centers require around the clock monitoring by a Network Operations Center (NOC) team. As the workforce goes remote, it is becoming too difficult to safely staff an on-premise data center.

By leasing space within a colocation facility, your remote workforce can continue to work from the comfort of their homes.

Security, compliance, redundancy, and connectivity have become the critical criteria for evaluating data centers, and LightEdge has spent more than 15 years making sure our network and infrastructure are scalable and secure enough to meet the most challenging needs. That’s why businesses and IT teams around the country trust LightEdge – and you can too. 

Compliance Benefits

Outsourcing the storage of e-PHI makes a lot of sense for many healthcare providers, health IT vendors, and other Covered Entities and Business Associates, but choosing a third-party provider with adequate systems and security is not a matter of simply choosing any data center. Not all are designed for HIPAA privacy and security compliance.

First and foremost, any data center you consider for your enterprise should have extensive knowledge of HIPAA and HITECH rules and regulations. You should see extensive information on how a data center’s systems are set up for compliance on the company’s website and/or literature.

If not, it is worth asking if the provider offers the services your enterprise requires and has the in-depth knowledge and experience to deal with e-PHI.

Ideally, data centers and cloud providers demonstrating knowledge of HIPAA and HITECH rules and regulations offer:

  • An in-depth understanding of the policies and protocols set forth by HIPAA, the Omnibus Rule, and HITECH Act
  • Resources for customers outlining how their organization protects sensitive patient data—they must be able to provide tangible evidence if an audit occurs.
  • Regular audits and compliance checks to identify potential threats to e-PHI
  • Processes & response systems to quickly respond to potential data breaches
  • Methods to ensure that the customer and data center collaboratively protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of e-PHI
  • The ability to negotiate and execute a meaningful Business Associate Agreement that defines the relationship and division of responsibilities between the customer and the data center in protecting e-PHI

Data centers that demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and have policies in place to support HIPAA typically provide this detailed information to customers before a contract is signed.

Leave Colocation to the Professionals

You wouldn’t get your medical advice or treatment from a banker. So, why would you put the fate of your IT infrastructure in the hands of anyone that isn’t a data center professional?

Finding a colocation provider that meets the security, network availability, scalability, and support that your organization requires may seem daunting. Thankfully, LightEdge is top performing in each of those categories, but don’t take our word for it. Take a virtual tour through one of LightEdge’s seven data center colocation facilities with the hosts of Off the Cuf to see our world’s most secure data center.

As a top-tier colocation services provider, we deliver a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers, and dedicated staff onsite. Our customized and scalable services give you the control, whether you need a colocation rack, cage, or custom suite now or in the future.

LightEdge’s highly trained compliance and security experts take the guesswork out of keeping your business protected. Trust our expertise to ensure you are covered through our security and compliance services, including risk management, information security, audit preparedness, and support.

With geographically dispersed facilities across all of the US power grids, our data centers are the heart of our operation and yours. We have a wide range of colocation and disaster recovery solutions delivering advanced shared infrastructure designed to enable operational and financial efficiency, reducing the burden on your IT staff.

LightEdge business support services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no exceptions. Our technical support starts with direct access to technicians in LightEdge’s Network Operations Center (NOC) via a toll-free number for emergencies. The LightEdge Portal allows you to open tickets, track progress, and more for all of your services.

Customers turn to LightEdge to reduce risk of non-compliance, scale security, and for our proven predictably and cost-effectiveness. LightEdge provides customers with an extended team of experienced engineers, so you can refocus internal resources on agility, differentiation, and running towards achieving your desired business outcomes.

Are you curious on how your current provider stacks up? Our security experts will provide a free security assessment to see how you measure up against the latest compliance and security standards. No risk, no commitment. Contact us today to get your free security assessment.

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