By Sylvester Wong, Senior Director, IT Asia Pacific, Fresenius Medical Care
Working in healthcare IT provides a unique set of challenges. Unlike many other typical IT departments, the decisions made in the healthcare sector directly affect patient wellbeing. This adds an additional level of pressure and reliance on the IT team that isn’t typically seen in other organisations.
IT regulations in healthcare
As well as this, the healthcare sector is highly sensitive and regulated. As such, in my point of view there are three main concerns in healthcare IT at the moment. Top of the list, is patient data protection. Patient comes first, no matter what they are doing. With cybersecurity risks constantly evolving, this means that there needs to be a constant effort to implement new policies to protect the patient’s data.
Managing patient data is not just about protecting it from cyber attack, but also about meeting regulatory standards. A big challenge for us is ensuring that multiple information security and data privacy laws compliance requirements are matched. Given how these laws are constantly evolving, this is a big task.
Given my regional scope, this includes Chinese cybersecurity laws, Philippine data privacy laws, and the GDPR. Each of these and others have to be understood, managed, and complied with.
As well as meeting requirements, whether protecting patient data or complying with local and international regulations, we needs to ensure the organisation evolves and keeps pace with modern digital strategies.
Digital Transformation - IoT
Nowadays many MNCs are undergoing multiple digital transformation initiatives, often involving cloud and emerging technology sectors such as IoT. There is significant effort required to align these initiatives at the regional/global level in order to avoid duplication of effort, and to create the right strategy in line with the governance and management model.
Given that the patient comes first, every time, there is a good understanding of how the IT department can help achieve this objective, and there is also a clear motivation to ensure regulatory compliance, it is not hard for us to justify the business cases.
Operating cost, security and complexity are some of the key drivers of data center consolidation
For example, with the potential for a 4 percent fine for any organisation found to be in breach of GDPR, a relatively small level of expenditure on IT to ensure this doesn’t happen makes good business sense.
Why Data Centers Consolidation
Operating cost, Security and Complexity are some of the key drivers of data center consolidation. Typically, the business and IT landscapes are expanding rapidly, it makes perfect sense to centralize IT services to reduce IT operating cost, to ensure better IT security management, and to reduce complexity of IT infrastructure and support. However, the complexity of data center consolidation often makes it difficult to get off the ground, and some often overlooks the discovery and planning phase of data center consolidations.
Further complication is to secure buy-in and funding from the business. Many consolidation projects suffer cost overruns due to insufficient provisioning of capacity and limited scalability, which could have been mitigated during the planning phase.
Benefits of reducing operating cost, ensuring better IT security management and reducing IT infrastructure and support complexity, they are just impossible to resist. The critical success factor is a detailed consolidation strategy couple with proper project management and planning.
Capturing the key benefits of Data Centers Consolidation
1) Operating costs (electricity cost – energy efficient server, server consolidation, virtual server/ desktop infrastructure etc.
2) Facility cost (released space)
3) IT Personnel costs – cost optimization via centralization of IT service organization
4) Hardware cost – consolidate multiple servers/storage systems into energy efficient and high performing servers and storage systems.
5) Increased control and security - reduce the complexity of IT landscapes, make it easier to monitor and control security entry and exit points.
6) Improved resilience – IT disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan is easier to implement and manage.
Key risks of Data Centers Consolidation
Some key risks of typical data consolidation project are challenging but they are not impossible to mitigate. Effective planning is the critical success factor.
Capacity and scalability planning of network, server and storage system capacity is another critical success factor but this is often overlooked in most projects.
It is inevitable to re-structure IT service organization in parallel to data centers consolidation. Proper and appropriate personnel management is the key to success, and always seek support from HR department.
Application compatibility, especially some legacy applications may not work on the new infrastructure. Again, effective planning and testing is the key to success.