Digital transformation remains a top priority for healthcare organizations looking to reduce IT infrastructure costs and improve the performance and reliability of technology to support data-driven clinical innovation. By working with a trusted strategic partner, healthcare organizations can bring predictability to their infrastructure and shift their efforts to supporting innovations in patient care that contribute to long-term success.
Read how a new approach to an IT refresh can decrease cost, reduce the burden on IT staff, and improve scalability and performance.
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Traditional acquisition models require upfront spending, leading to the purchase of unnecessary capacity and technology that is becoming obsolete more quickly and repeats the cycle. With legacy IT infrastructure preventing healthcare organizations from responding rapidly and efficiently to changing times, a new approach to an IT refresh can decrease cost, reduce the burden on IT staff, and improve scalability and performance. By working with a trusted strategic partner, healthcare organizations can bring predictability to their infrastructure and shift their efforts to supporting innovations in patient care that contribute to long-term success.
State of Health IT Infrastructure
Digital transformation remains a top priority for healthcare organizations looking to reduce IT infrastructure costs and improve the performance and reliability of technology to support data-driven clinical innovation. And the recent public health crisis has accelerated the process.
Before the introduction of lockdown measures, healthcare CIOs were facing pressure to reduce operating costs associated with health information technology. 77% of respondents to a College for Health Information Management Executive (CHIME) survey reported operating cost pressure to be their biggest barrier to making progress with IT initiatives. Additionally, 61% indicated limited IT bandwidth or ability was hampering their efforts.
Likewise, opportunities for streamlining operating and support costs were going unnoticed or had failed to provide a return on investment. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61%) had yet to perform a thorough analysis of vendor contracts to identify opportunities for consolidation across the enterprise, and a majority of healthcare CIOs (61%) reported that their organizations did not realize the value in their work with IT and service providers. Lastly, more than a third of healthcare CIOs had not considered using a managed service provider to shore up gaps in IT bandwidth.
These findings prove troublesome in light of the current state of IT infrastructure across industries. In 2019, Forrester found that 40% of server hardware in data centres is more than three years old as organizations worked to support new and emerging workloads, exceeding industry-standard refresh cycles and extending beyond the five-year mark in some cases.
As a result, IT departments were likely falling short of meeting business needs and spending more time and resources on legacy systems ill-suited to support innovative technologies such as forms of artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, those organizations that had embraced modernized infrastructure and management were well-positioned to invest in these innovations.
It comes as no surprise that organizations across industries are looking to redress capability gaps tied to legacy IT infrastructure. For two consecutive years, an annual Spiceworks survey on the state of IT has identified keeping IT infrastructure up-to-date as the top pain point for organizations, based on responses from more than a thousand business technology buyers. And with one in four organizations have experienced a recent security incident, protecting IT infrastructure has emerged a pressing need.
With data supporting day-to-day operations and fueling innovative uses of information, data storage has emerged as a focal point for IT leaders. A 2019 survey of data storage trends by Spiceworks found that businesses anticipate a double-digit growth over the next two years, with significant gains expected in cloud storage infrastructure, high-capacity hard drives, all-flash storage, and cloud file-sharing services.
When considering data storage options, 80% of 548 respondents listed reliability as the most critical factor in their decision-making, following by compatibility with existing infrastructure (62%). Among other essential considerations, one-third of respondents identified value for money, security and encryption functionality, vendor support, and high performance.
Altogether, research clarifies the need for organizations, especially those facing operating cost pressures, to solve for the IT refresh problem and avoid a cycle of purchasing and repurchasing equipment based on traditional acquisition models that cannot account for changing needs and unprecedented disruption.
Moving to An Innovative Acquisition Model
Traditional acquisition models for data storage require upfront spending based on predictions about performance and capacity drawn from previous experience and expected growth. But what happens when operations or needs change?
“When organizations invest in a storage platform, they spend considerable time how much they need over the next three years—the typical lifespan of an array. And oftentimes, they are sizing controllers to be much larger than necessary to meet expected capacity over that duration,” says Josh Gluck, Josh Gluck, Vice President of Global Healthcare Technology Strategy at Pure Storage.
The presizing required of this approach can prove both costly and disruptive, leading organizations to expend more capital to expand capacity and purchase new controllers at full price or through financial tradeoffs (e.g., adding more capacity to drive down the cost of new controllers).
In other words, maintaining the status quo comes at a cost.
“If organizations keep doing what they’ve done before, they’re going to spend money on technology with a much shorter life span and be unable to achieve as much as they had planned,” Gluck explains. “Basically, they are kicking the can down the road by deferring a refresh and continuing to pay an increased cost and support.”
But an alternative approach can better position healthcare organizations to manage the present and prepare for the future by shifting to operating expenditures (OpEx). Resisting the status quo can appear daunting at first glance. Still, it is necessary to ensure that organizations experience the benefits of the latest technology while avoiding repeated investments money and personnel.
“By resisting muscle memory, organizations can invest in technology that could be an asset for them that remains evergreen,” Gluck observes. “They can buy what they need today, and there’s no penalty to buy a little more as budgets open up as their organization starts to recover financially.”
Innovation in data storage is not limited to technology but also applies to finance. The emergence of financial flexibility options (e.g., buy, lease, subscribe, all of the above) can be a game-changer, especially with a pandemic creating a new normal for healthcare workforces.
“Many organizations want to convert from the traditional CapEx model to an operating expense where they can pay by the drip, pay for what they use, and be able to tie revenue to expense for some of their workloads,” says Gluck. “Healthcare needs financial flexibility right now due to the pressures they have faced and still face due to lost revenue.”
Therefore, a refresh becomes an opportunity for healthcare organizations “to come out of the current financial situation better than they entered it and with technology that will remain state-of-the-art and provide value for years to come,” he adds. “It is an inflection point for them to do something that they hadn’t been able to do before.”
What’s more, the relative freshness of technology reduces an organization’s technical debt. It ensures that mission-critical systems and services are available to providers at the point of care, reducing threats to patient safety and contributing to positive outcomes.
Benefits of A Novel Refresh Approach With Pure
Over the span of a few months, uncertainty has become a standard feature of day-to-day healthcare. IT departments have been tasked with supporting a multitude of scenarios with serious implications for data capacity and performance.
It’s fair to say that traditional approaches to health IT infrastructure prevented many organizations from maintaining business continuity during a period of unprecedented change. “Organizations that had relied on legacy infrastructure providers have struggled to scale, and some have had to scale overnight,” says Gluck.
Conversely, the experience for those organizations working with a strategic technology partner through an OpEx model, such as the storage as a service (STaaS) offered by Pure Storage, has been more straightforward.
“We’ve seen customers who have gone from working on-premise to supporting a 100-per cent remote work, especially for the nonclinical folks who are taking care of all these systems,” Gluck reveals. “Our customers were able to do that very quickly without much effort, allowing themselves to focus on how they needed to change their business rather than how they put their business continuity plan into practice.”
The ability to adjust capacity as needed and upgrade without disruption is essential to business continuity during the new normal and beyond and speaks to the power of subscription innovation.
“When I was a customer of Pure’s, I learned very quickly that there is a whole new way to do business when it comes to a data platform,” says Gluck, a former healthcare IT director and deputy CIO. “You invest in Pure, and it continues to stay well ahead of the pace of your organization, meeting all the needs that you have as you continue to grow.”
Agility can also take the form of shortening intervals between refreshes, thinking in months rather than years.
“We’ve got to change that time horizon for five years to two years, and do planning in much smaller increments. Frankly, healthcare organizations need to look more closely at their plans for the next six months, 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months and seriously evaluate their environment and its ability to help them achieve their goals.”
Security is yet another area where an OpEx model can translate into improvement to safeguarding data, systems, and services. Cyberthreats have not disappeared as a result of COVID-19. Instead, bad actors are seizing upon the current public health crisis to target healthcare organizations whose focus has been directed on keeping their businesses in operation and serving the health needs of their patients.
When it comes to building trust, we’re very open about what we’re doing, especially in a highly regulated environment like healthcare,” Gluck maintains. “And we have spent time investing in security features and functionality in our solutions by enabling customers to leverage things like immutable snapshots to protect against ransomware or even leveraging their data protection partner of choice.”
Beyond the agility and flexibility made possible through STaaS, healthcare organizations benefit from reassigning full-time IT personnel from daily maintenance activities to innovative data projects alongside clinical departments.
“There is a tendency among those who haven’t played a role in an IT department or an infrastructure group to underestimate the amount of effort that it takes to maintain legacy storage, especially at scale. When you approach a petabyte or a multi-petabyte environment, traditional storage arrays, architectures, and technology require a team of people to keep business moving and the lights running,” Gluck explains.
“Our customers have been able to reduce the number of full-time employees dedicated to operating storage in their environment significantly,” he adds. “And organizations have been able to reposition excess IT staff in their organization to focus on innovation. One organization recently shared the experience of partnering an IT professional with bioinformatics on a project directly impacting clinical workflows.”
Last but not least is the benefit of working with a company that understands healthcare and remains committed to building long-term, collaborative relationships built on continued dialogue, trust, and a willingness to provide support regularly.
“Healthcare organizations are only able to innovate quickly without increasing risk through partnerships with a technology company that understands their business, speaks their language, and stays focused on delivering a return on their investment,” says Gluck. “We spend a lot of time making sure that we do just that.”
What Makes Pure The Right Strategies Partner
- Financial flexibility allows organizations to access the capacity they need while preserving capital to be spent elsewhere.
- Organizations can adjust capacity as needed and upgrade without disruption avoiding penalties for starting small and growing large.
- Subscription innovation enables organizations to have access to the latest and greatest hardware and software.
- Pure as a service takes the pressure off of IT personnel having to maintain legacy storage—reducing the burden of the day to day— which frees these resources to be put toward improvements at the point of care.
- Pure continues to develop solutions with protections against malware and other threats to health data security and privacy while simultaneously working alongside an organization’s preferred technology.
- Pure is committed to building longterm relationships built on continued dialogue, trust, and a willingness to provide support regularly.
Source: Pure Storage