Blog / Four Benefits of Healthcare Virtualization
We’re pretty big fans of virtualization here at TRINUS. It’s got plenty of benefits and few drawbacks, none of which are particularly significant. In fact we wrote about virtualization in general just recently, so feel free to give that article a read if you’re not familiar with why it’s useful for pretty much any organization. What’s great about virtualization is that it often provides additional benefits specific to an industry or sector. With the COVID pandemic dramatically accelerating the rate of remote work and thus the need for virtualized resources, we figured it was time to talk about the benefits of healthcare virtualization in specific.
- Critical data prioritization
- Network agility and load optimization
- Scalability and expansion
- Reduced costs
Critical Data Prioritization
Not all data are created equal. Even for “normal” businesses there’s a difference in value between storing customers’ names and maintaining a database of their credit card numbers. The situation is even more complicated for healthcare providers as personal health information is some of the most heavily protected and regulated on the planet.
However, health data doesn’t differ just in its legal standing, but also in its immediate value. For some patients life and death truly hang in the balance and getting important health information into the right providers’ hands quickly is mission critical. On the other hand, processing insurance claims is important for a clinic’s bottom line but can usually wait until the patient’s crisis has passed. This is where virtualization really pays off; virtualized networks allow you to manage your bandwidth by diverting low-priority traffic and get it out of the way for delivery of higher-priority, life-saving data. This is particularly true for high-resolution diagnostic imaging like Position Emission Tomography which can easily produce data files in excess of a gigabyte and can bog down networks or get sent after clinic hours when usage is low.
Network Agility and Load Optimization
The ability to prioritize the delivery critical data quickly is one of the top benefits of healthcare virtualization, but the ability to respond to network requirements quickly is almost as valuable. At first blush the two may seem virtually identical, but there is an important difference; network agility is about being able to bring additional resources online to support period of high-volume traffic, whereas prioritization is all about what data gets access to those resources first.
This may not seem particularly beneficial, until you remember how quickly things change in healthcare (as the onset of the COVID pandemic made clear). Clinics running physical equipment are limited to the resource capacities of the hardware on hand, and it’s understandable. After all, why pay for equipment and bandwidth that’s only rarely needed. A virtualized network, however, allows clinics to avoid paying for excess resources in order to maintain performance during periods of high use; the clinic can simply bring additional virtualized resources online temporarily as needed, and dropping them when traffic returns to normal.
Scalability and Expansion
Mergers, acquisitions, and expansions are substantially easier to facilitate with a virtualized network. Getting all the hardware delivered and configured to connect new clinics to physical networks can take weeks, and even months. Virtualized networks, on the other hand, often require a scant few days to configure and connect. Merged units can start operating as a single entity and new locations brought online quickly, making scaling and expansion substantially easier and more efficient.
Okay, we admit, this benefit is from our original list of general ones and isn’t specific to healthcare. Nevertheless, clinics are looking to cut costs just as much as any other business. The point is that fully utilizing hardware capacity through virtualization rather than running multiple servers and computers individually means less hardware investment, and substantial savings when it comes to server cooling and power consumption. With the seemingly endless rise in the price of healthcare delivery, being able to reduce hardware, IT support, and utility costs is crucial.
Virtualization has a long history, dating back to the 1960s. However, it wasn’t until it’s popularization in the late 2000s when it dramatically changed IT delivery, and has become an important part of the IT landscape for healthcare clinics, municipalities, and businesses of all sizes. If you’d like to learn more about healthcare virtualization for your organization, contact one of our experts today.
The TRINUS Team