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From normalization to “swarm-ilization”: Preparing for the future of infrastructure demands in healthcare

Normalized healthcare infrastructures can increase resiliency, reduce latency and support better experiences from data center to bedside.
By admin
Feb 21, 2024, 3:02 PM

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three articles, powered by CHIME Digital Health Insights and sponsored by Spectrum Enterprise, examining how healthcare providers can modernize their enterprise infrastructures to meet increased demands, including care anywhere and emerging technologies like AI, and upgrade their governance and service partnerships to support this “new normal.”


Healthcare organizations are some of the most demanding data environments in the world, requiring 24/7 access to critical systems that support life-or-death decision making. But after a tumultuous decade of digital development, they’re also some of the most chaotic. At the moment, few organizations can boast truly seamless, interoperable data pipelines that encompass all of their major infrastructure components, even as they race to add artificial intelligence tools to fuel clinical and operational efficiencies.

Balancing the need for agility and growth with security, data governance and infrastructure standardization isn’t easy, especially as the number of edge systems and disparate data feeds continues to increase exponentially. However, embracing the concept of normalization can help.

The “new normalization” of healthcare infrastructure

Normalization is a term often used in relation to data governance, which is a key part of the systems organization process. However, it is bigger than that. Normalizing infrastructure itself is about making intentional choices to match up the high- capacity data demands and methodology of each individual system so that data can flow quickly, reliably and securely from edge device to data center and back again with low latency that meets time-sensitive care and demanding application needs.

The idea of “standardization” may make IT leaders feel locked in and constricted by a set of inflexible rules. A normalization approach accounts for the most important parts of the standardization discussion while enabling adaptation of networks in support of modern, fast-paced requirements, including more locations, internet traffic and cloud-based applications, as well as medical devices, AI algorithms and generally higher expectations from consumers and end-users.

It’s not about ripping and replacing everything so it’s all the same. It’s about investing in connectivity solutions that become the foundation for all these systems, in a cohesive manner, to pave the way for improved governance and enhanced reliability.

“Hospitals and health systems cannot afford to continue investing in ‘legacy’ networking technology in today’s digital-first environment,” said Andrew Craver, Vice President of Segment Marketing for Spectrum Enterprise. “By simply maintaining the status quo with respect to IT infrastructure, organizations risk losing their competitive edge.”

In this “new normal,” clinicians will benefit from better access and flow of patient data, reduced administrative burden, improved user interfaces and real-time data insights, while patients will enjoy more personalized care, better communication and collaboration among their clinicians, and improved health outcomes.

To get there, IT executives must evaluate existing network architecture; identify areas to improve digital experiences and secure data; and work across the entire organization to develop baseline standards that align with capabilities while preparing for future needs.

Overall, normalization will require investments in technology, training and other resources, but HCOs can offset upfront costs with ROI realized via reduced redundancy, streamlined management, increased scalability and improved operational efficiency.

From norm to swarm: the future of data in healthcare

As the Internet of Things (IoT) flourishes, empowered by a surge of artificial intelligence tools, healthcare organizations will be able to gather more diverse data from a wider range of sources. Moving from normalization to what CHIME and DHI refer to as “swarm-ilization” means developing the ability to accommodate high-speed feeds coming in from thousands of new and disparate sources. This will allow organizations to cultivate richer, more profound data insights, akin to the “swarm intelligence” exhibited by bees, birds and other creatures. By democratizing access to patient behavior data, they can unlock a holistic understanding that fosters deeper insights and ultimately, better clinical outcomes.

“It is crucial to put modern infrastructure in place that scales efficiently as bandwidth needs increase,” Craver said. “To do so, healthcare organizations need a technology partner able to design, deploy and maintain modern networking solutions that prove resilient and reliable over time. By leaving the design, implementation and management tasks to network engineering experts, HCOs free themselves up to focus their IT teams on delivering the best possible care.”

About Spectrum Enterprise

Spectrum Enterprise, a part of Charter Communications, Inc., is a national provider of scalable, fiber technology solutions serving many of America’s largest businesses and communications service providers. The broad Spectrum Enterprise portfolio includes networking and managed services solutions: Internet access, Ethernet access and networks, Voice and TV solutions. The Spectrum Enterprise team of experts works closely with clients to achieve greater business success by providing solutions designed to meet their evolving needs. For more information, visit enterprise.spectrum.com.



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