Digital transformation is forcing companies across many industries to completely rethink the way they operate. In the healthcare sector, rapidly advancing technologies are serving to not only streamline operations, but also reshape the entire spectrum of care, enabling patients to be treated more quickly and accurately than ever before.

A few dynamic shifts are prompting today’s healthcare organizations to fundamentally rethink the way they approach IT and deploy new compute infrastructure. First is the continued explosion of healthcare data—widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) is causing the volume and complexity of digital patient data to balloon. In fact, the amount of healthcare data being produced is expected to grow from 153 exabytes in 2013 to 2,314 exabytes in 2020, representing a 48 percent annual rate of increase. And as healthcare data continues to expand, providers are increasingly needing to access these large data volumes from any location, at any time, and on a variety of personal devices.

To empower their progressively mobile workforce, healthcare IT departments must make data access easier, faster, and more secure. They need to take precautions to protect sensitive patient data in order to conform to federally-mandated HIPAA and HITECH data privacy regulations. They must shift to a style of IT that is easy to deliver and simple to centrally manage, while supporting the trends of data growth and mobility that are proliferating throughout the organization.

A fresh approach to data management, data virtualization, allows a number of virtual machines (VMs) to access, view, and manipulate data without needing to gain technical details about the data, such as its format or exact storage location. This technique is becoming more popular in the healthcare industry because it allows physicians to easily retrieve clinical data and share files in a safe and protected way, and from many different devices and locations.

Data virtualization is proven to streamline healthcare operations in a variety of ways:

  • Enhances productivity and mobility: The ability to access data from any location enables doctors and specialists to be more productive from anywhere, and supports the BYOD movement by allowing them to use any device of their choosing.
  • Simplifies data access and integration: Virtualization unifies data that is spread across multiple systems, breaks down data siloes, and offers access to patient data through a shared/common interface.
  • Improves quality of care: Better connections between doctors and specialists enhance collaborative medicine, while better connections between doctors and patients result in higher-quality and more accurate care overall.

Data virtualization has picked up steam recently as these technologies become more secure and the healthcare market increasingly looks to cutting-edge techniques to improve all aspects of their operations. Healthcare organizations must invest in core technologies that enable virtualization and bring data right to the fingertips of the people who need it. Virtual GPUs are leveraged to improve picture archiving and communication system (PACS) imaging and other applications where users need to virtualize images. GPUs can also accelerate and visualize insights from artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning initiatives to help healthcare professional solve their most complex problems, while high performance servers provide the backbone and eliminate the complexity and cost of deploying and running these data- and compute-intensive workloads.

The healthcare industry is increasing looking to data virtualization as a way to streamline their operations, drive employee productivity, and support data growth. To learn more about how virtualization is helping healthcare companies transform their way of doing business, please follow me on Twitter at @Bill_Mannel. You can also follow @HPE_HPC and @NVIDIAVirt for up-to-the-minute virtualization updates and customer stories.