Predictions for Healthcare and Database Infrastructure in 2021

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Why will healthcare organizations evolve the way they manage development and test databases?

Kathi Kellenberger writes: In the US, healthcare organizations must maintain accreditation and certification from Joint Commission and other governing bodies to receive reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid among other benefits. The accreditations emphasize quality, documented processes, outcomes, and patient satisfaction. Organizations must also comply with HIPAA and other regulations.

Infrastructure as code (IaC) can help healthcare organizations meet these requirements by having standardized, documented, and repeatable processes that will allow the organization to provide value to patients and healthcare providers faster.      

Grant Fritchey writes: As the regulatory and compliance requirements of healthcare are constantly growing and changing, the need to quickly respond within IT has become more necessary. The ability to rapidly deploy new systems is vital. Further, as we’ve seen from the pandemic in 2020, there’s a need to be able to burst capabilities along with demand.

All of this taken together means that the healthcare sector has to adopt methods and mechanisms that let them respond to demand more quickly.

Kendra Little writes: There are three factors that make this important for healthcare organizations: 1) competition is fierce; 2) technological innovation to provide cost-savings is badly needed; 3) code quality is of utmost importance.

These things mean that healthcare development needs to move fast while ensuring that they have high quality code. Using traditional development infrastructure patterns– which feature stale datasets and configurations that don’t match production – slows teams down and adds risk.

How can healthcare organizations use data virtualization / lightweight database clones and snapshots?

Kathi writes: Healthcare is changing rapidly with innovations such as electronic medical records, telemedicine, patient collection of data through wearable devices, and data-driven therapy. It’s also subject to the whims of legislation and court decisions. Organizations must have the ability to move fast, usually faster than is comfortable.  IaC gives the ability to deliver solutions more quickly to comply and be competitive.  

Grant writes: The adoption of a DevOps style development approach generally does two things for any organization; increase protection for production environments and helps speed delivery of value for the organization. The value that a healthcare system has to deliver is also two-fold; support of the patients and clients and safe management of their information. Healthcare will be able to use DevOps and Infrastructure as a Service as a mechanism to support the need for bursts of patients, like during the pandemic.

Further, the added protections through automation of delivery, testing, and a more consistent environment means that they can do deliver this added functionality while still protecting the personal identifying information of the patients and clients.

Kendra writes: When it comes to database environments, infrastructure as code patterns provide a massive benefits to organizations who have large teams working on shared databases, or who have unpredictable release cadences. Infrastructure as code allows much greater flexibility when it comes to managing deployments.

How much do you see modernization of database infrastructure taking off with healthcare organizations in 2021?

Kathi writes: We are in unchartered waters right now in the midst of a global pandemic. I imagine that many organizations are struggling with day-to-day operations and don’t foresee making wholesale changes to the way they work. On the other hand, to stay competitive, healthcare organizations must find ways to move faster and innovate. IaC and DevOps practices can be beneficial in the long run, so I hope they are considering adopting these practices.    

Grant writes: Healthcare is generally not quick to move on new technology, depending on the field. There has been a steady growth in this area as the benefits become more and more visible across the industry. I expect the growth to continue and slowly accelerate. I don’t anticipate a giant leap forward, but rather a constant, and growing, general adoption as an obvious benefit.

Kendra writes: We’ve seen continued steady adoption in this sector over time. I think this trend will continue – strong, steady growth, even as some spending lessens due to the pandemic and economic pressures.