Small, Medium Hospitals Face Data Center Challenges

While small and midsize hospitals plan to increase spending on data centers as they anticipate the flood of electronic health records, a host of challenges threaten to undermine the effectiveness of that spending.

Hospital data centers may not be ready for the demand that more patients and digital information will create, according to a survey of hospital IT executives at small and midsize hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, France and Germany conducted by HIMSS Analytics on behalf of Dell.
The Healthcare Enterprise Survey showed that while many of the health care centers anticipate increased spending on IT next year, they also describe data center challenges including a lack of standards, security, extended server refresh cycles, and complexity created by a large number of servers and vendors and limited use of virtualization.
Dell officials say the lack of data center standards complicate the information sharing within and between hospitals necessary for diagnosis, decision making, and coordination and management of patient care. With refresh cycles of five years or more, small and midsize hospitals rely on servers that are less efficient and cost more to run and manage as they prepare for a significant increase in data over the next two years.
Without aggressive adoption of virtualization, Dell says, hospitals that simply add servers and storage to their data centers to meet growing data demand will end up perpetuating the complexity that already consumes a majority of their IT resources, leaving less of their budgets for strategic priorities even as they invest more in IT.
"Small and medium hospitals are a sizable component of the health care delivery system in most countries," Jamie Coffin, vice president of Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, said in a statement. "We must ensure that all hospitals-large and small, new and existing-are equipped with the right IT infrastructure to support information demands today and in the future. We cannot simply throw servers and storage at information demand, or complexity will over-run IT budgets and leave little support for the strategic HIT [health information technology] priorities which support health care reform and business initiatives."
The HIMSS Analytics survey asked hospital IT executives to assess the readiness of their hospital data centers to support new information demands as reform initiatives such as EMRs (electronic medical records) and digital imaging become more pervasive.