Cost Still a Major Obstacle to Virtualization in Hospitals
Though the long-term benefits of virtualization are undeniable, upfront migration costs hold healthcare providers back from converting their infrastructure.
Healthcare IT has seen an explosion in the last half decade. As electronic health records (EHRs), connected devices, and mobile health trackers proliferate in hospitals around the world, the demand for better network infrastructures continues to grow. Currently, most hospitals still utilize old stand-alone legacy systems that are bogged down by costly overhead.
A recent study conducted by Red Hat shows that virtualization remains a strategic option for enterprises looking to improve their current IT infrastructures. Of the 900 companies surveyed, 18% said they would look to increase their virtualized infrastructure in the next two years in order to reap the benefits of reliability, availability, performance, security, and scalability.
However, virtualization still faces significant challenges moving forward: namely, the cost of migration. 40% of respondents claimed budgetary constraints were holding them back from moving towards virtualization.
“Though it might seem odd for cost to be both a benefit and a challenge, it’s all about context — in the long run, virtualization can save enterprises money,” the Red Hat analyst wrote.
“But getting there takes money, and this may be especially true with proprietary software, licenses, and extensive consulting services required for some implementations.”
The Benefits of Virtualization in Healthcare
Healthcare providers could benefit greatly from a shift to virtualized systems. With every added connected device comes an exponential increase in data, which means providers must ensure their servers are ready to handle the coming influx of demand. Speed, stability, and centralization are crucial in life-or-death situations. Virtualization gives healthcare facilities these three in spades, without the added hassle of finding additional space, increasing power use, adding staff, or turning to outsourcers for help.
According to HIT Infrastructure “the goal of virtualization is to eliminate hardware expenses and increase productivity by providing quick and mobile access to data.” Hospitals that give their clinicians access to proprietary applications will also find that virtualization gives them improved application performance. The scalability available through virtualization means that applications will always have the appropriate level of resources to handle their tasks.
Budgeting for the Future
Migrating to a virtualized infrastructure is not free, and though the long-term cost benefits — along with the other advantage — are undeniable, hospitals still see the upfront costs of virtualization as a barrier to the move. The reality is that the budgets of IT departments are not increasing despite in line with the demands being placed on them. In order to make virtualization a reality moving forward, hospitals should aim to bring their current IT costs down and put the savings towards future virtualization endeavors.
The two largest avoidable costs when it comes to IT are over-provisioning and network outages. IT teams can save a tremendous amount of money by ensuring they are allocating resources efficiently and in real-time to keep their networks online without incurring huge costs. That’s why capacity management software like the Vityl suite from TeamQuest give teams holistic and granular views of their infrastructure to monitor its health and stability.
Vityl Adviser applies advanced algorithms to your networks performance data to give “at-a-glance” health and risk scores for critical services, giving you a sense of where service problems are likely to occur before disaster strikes. Given the high costs associated with network outages, any heads up on potential problems can save an operation money that can then be applied towards a virtualization upgrade.
Hospitals can keep their critical networks online while still moving towards a future with virtualization. It just takes the proper tools to plan and budget for the future.