Comment: Giving the data centre a clean bill of health

How Technology Asset Management tools are alleviating the burden on healthcare organisations

Technology Asset Management tools are helping healthcare organisations to keep control

Mark Gaydos, chief medical officer at Nlyte, discusses how the healthcare industry can keep control as connected devices take over through better management of data centre infrastructure

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of connected devices has had a huge impact on medical technology and how healthcare organisations leverage these assets in order to improve services for patients.

When connected to the internet, medical devices such as temperature monitors, electrocardiograms, even connected inhalers, can gather invaluable data, providing additional insight into symptoms and health trends, better enabling remote care, and improving diagnoses.

The rise of the Internet of Things, for all its benefits, changes the requirements and expectations in the data centre, and ultimately the jobs of those who manage it

But this rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), for all its benefits, changes the requirements and expectations in the data centre, and ultimately the jobs of those who manage it.

Effectively managing physical IT infrastructure, let alone optimising for best output, is an increasingly-tricky feat; trends such as the upsurge in connected devices, as well as the move towards edge computing, mean that assets are increasingly spread over disparate environments, leading to complexity if IT managers are unable to obtain visibility over all environments, workloads and resources.

Couple this with increasing pressures from the wider business to reduce risk; get, and stay, compliant; as well as save money, and taming device proliferation is challenging to say the least, particularly in such a heavily-regulated industry as healthcare where NHS budgets are tight.

As a whole, the demands of modern-day IT mean that organisations need to prioritise technologies that enable IT teams to monitor, manage, and protect not only their physical assets, but virtual ones, too, in order to keep patient wellbeing at the core of operations as well as meet the wider business needs.

The demands of modern-day IT mean that organisations need to prioritise technologies that enable IT teams to monitor, manage, and protect not only their physical assets, but virtual ones, too, in order to keep patient wellbeing at the core of operations as well as meet the wider business needs

Technology Asset Management (TAM) tools allow for full visibility into all IT assets across physical and virtual environments, including software, networked building infrastructure, data centre infrastructure, applications in the cloud, personal computing devices, and millions of IoT devices.

Acting like a single pane of glass, data centre managers are able to see their entire technology portfolio in terms of status, health, security, and compliance. TAM also provides real-time data, and it this data that allows businesses to benefit from the following tangible, performance-enhancing results:

Making risk redundant

The explosion in connected devices has inevitably led to greater security risk when it comes to securing a company network. More devices mean more end-points that, if reached by nefarious hands, could have the potential to be devastating to a business’ security, productivity and overall ability to operate.

One only has to look at the example of the WannaCry cyber-attack and its disastrous effects on the NHS to understand the impact that these types of disruption can have. Some hospital IT systems were down for several days, some even for weeks.

It is clear, then, that comprehensive visibility over these devices is crucial: which are connected to the network, which are running the most-up-to-date security policies and are still supported by the vendors that created them.

TAM automates the discovery and cataloguing of all things connected to the network and interconnects with other building, IT, and business systems as well providing checkpoints on individual software to check compliance with current security protocols.

In all highly-regulated industries, including healthcare, security managers and compliance officers need the ability to clearly see what is installed and where, validate its patch history, and know who has access to it.

Beating the bills

Money and efficiency are at the top of every business agenda, but they are particularly important to the healthcare industry as financial pressures and concerns over long-term financial sustainability are widely reported.

In all highly-regulated industries, including healthcare, security managers and compliance officers need the ability to clearly see what is installed and where, validate its patch history, and know who has access to it

With this in mind, decision-makers need to ensure and demonstrate that healthcare resources are put to good use and are delivering the ROI expected.

By gaining appropriate visibility into where assets are failing to make best use of resources, TAM has the ability to redistribute and right-size asset usage and inventory accordingly.

Compliance is a better cure

Organisations in all industries are often subject to heavy compliance regulations, but not many more so than in healthcare.

For example, NHS and social care providers may use cloud computing services for NHS data, but that data must only be hosted within the UK, a country deemed adequate by the European Commission, or in the US where covered by Privacy Shield.

Further recent changes to data protection legislation, including GDPR, have strict restrictions on the transfer of personal data, particularly when this transfer is outside the European Union, and organisations must be able to not only locate, but also prove, the locality of data to meet regulatory demand.

The best way to meet these standards is with significant reporting capabilities that can not only provide evidence that a company is compliant, but can also generate and keep required documentation in the event of a breach so that remediation can be made instantly.

The importance of regular check-ups

Taking all of this into consideration, TAM is a must-have in any healthcare organisation’s data centre tool kit as it provides managers a single source of truth for a very-complex, diverse, and fast-moving environment that is rapidly adding assets and connected devices as medical innovations increase.

By gaining appropriate visibility into where assets are failing to make best use of resources, TAM has the ability to redistribute and right-size asset usage and inventory accordingly

Having been able to scale up and facilitate IoT devices and other developing technologies in what are often aging legacy systems, it would be disappointing for a hospital data centre manager to then fall at the hurdle of securing, maintaining or even optimising their use.

To tame the data centre is to have full control and visibility of all assets that leads to the safe running of the entire organisation, and is essential to the overall care and satisfaction felt by patients through the IT services they receive.

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