The survey results also indicated a correlation between the importance of power and cooling infrastructure and the reliance on IT systems, with more than half of respondents upgrading their healthcare facility’s power and cooling infrastructure when implementing new technologies like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)/network communications and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS).
While the importance of uninterruptible power is well understood in data centers and network closets, the survey results suggest that the same cannot be said for the hospital itself. In instances where IT usage comes to the point of care, more than one-half of patient rooms are not supported by any uninterruptible power source. Additionally, just 28 percent of operating rooms have emergency power receptacles serviced through an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This lack of protection makes critical patient data vulnerable to downtime as there is no ride-through until the hospital’s emergency generators can assume the critical load.
“With shrinking IT budgets and rising demand for computing capacity, it’s not surprising that healthcare IT and facilities professionals cited budget, power requirements and availability as top concerns inside the hospital,” said Jeff Sturgeon, vice president, marketing and solutions, Emerson Network Power’s Liebert products business in North America. “Although it is a relief to know that those in the healthcare industry recognize the relationship between power and cooling infrastructure and IT system availability, the lack of hospital-wide power protection in the OR and patient rooms is concerning. Patient records in the data center may remain available and protected during a utility outage, but without extending protection into the hospital, medical personnel will not have access to vital data while hospital-based IT devices are temporarily down.”
Regarding downtime, 32 percent of those surveyed had experienced unplanned downtime of their IT systems while 29 percent responded that their data centers did not deploy redundant power systems or didn’t know what type of distribution strategy was being used. This suggests that, despite an increased reliance on IT, there is a need for increasing awareness of infrastructure technologies and strategies.
The majority of respondents also cited major changes and expansion on the horizon, despite the economic recession. In the next 24 months, 60 percent indicated they plan to add more server and storage capacity in their hospital data centers, while more than half are planning to update or expand IT infrastructure within an existing hospital. Twenty-seven percent plan to expand the existing hospital, while 15 percent plan to build a new facility.Although a number of respondents identified application services that are currently being evaluated for moving into internal or external cloud environments, security is a top concern. Web servers and web-based applications have the second highest cloud adoption rate at 49 percent (13 percent is specified as internal cloud), among respondents, and 50 percent of respondents plan to implement disaster recovery/backup-as-a-service on an internal or external cloud. Forty-nine percent of respondents mentioned a concern with security and cloud computing, likely due to the sensitive nature of a hospital’s business and regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).