Heath-care edge architecture poised to enhance digital-patient experience
Increasingly, health care organizations have recognized that edge architecture may fill gaps left by traditional data centers and cloud computing architecture.
While cloud computing offers compute resources and flexibility for large data volumes, multitenant, centralized clouds bring data latency and data privacy problems. For industries such as health care, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other regulatory requirements have prevented widespread use of cloud architecture.
“Everyone wants to go to a centralized cloud like AWS [Amazon Web Services] or Azure,” said Travis Shanahan, systems architect at BevelCloud. “It’s very difficult to jump through all the hoops when the majority of the machines aren’t connected. So we embarked on what we call an ‘edge cloud.’” Shanahan and his team are building a health care edge architecture, starting with a children’s hospital at Stanford University in California.
Traditional data centers can’t solve health care’s problem either. On-premises infrastructure can be costly to maintain to keep up with new data requirements. So too, patient data may be at risk to cyberattacks as well as malicious or careless insider behavior.
Sharing data, such as imaging files, with experts outside of a hospital network becomes a difficult task. Often this is reduced to burning the imaging data on to CD-ROMs and physically shipping them to another hospital or clinic for review.
According to Gartner, 91% of data is created and processed in centralized data centers. But by 2022, about 75% of all data will need analysis and action to take place at the edge.
Further, there has been an explosion in health care data — a 900% increase in just three years. As a result, many health care providers have turned to edge computing to solve their challenges caused by the proliferation of devices and the latency in sending data to a cloud and back. Edge computing architecture reduces the need to use a centralized cloud and can instead exploit connectivity near the data source, improving speed and latency.
Delivering New Digital Patient Experiences with Edge Architecture
Jeffrey Thomas, chief technology officer at Sentara Healthcare — a 12-hospital system in Virginia and North Carolina — and his IT team wanted to build a customer-focused system and provide greater digital capability for patients. So, they had to think beyond traditional data centers and cloud to enable their new digital needs.
Even prior to the emergence of COVID-19 and the ramped-up need for digital health options, the team worked on an app with which patients can schedule appointments, receive health alerts such as a colonoscopy screening and other capabilities.
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