17 April 2020 - Healthcare Industry

DevOps for Healthcare in the midst of pandemic and quarantine

DevOps for healthcare has never been more important than in the midst of pandemic and quarantine. Read on to know why DevOps is the best choice and how to do it right. 

Healthcare has always been a very demanding industry, with a heavy emphasis on customer details privacy and security of data processing. HIPAA compliance is quite a complex thing to implement and uphold, especially given the inadequacy of legacy infrastructure many healthcare providers are forced to operate. Transition to the cloud and DevOps adoption can be the answer to these challenges — and doubly so in times like these, when COVID-19 pandemic and global quarantine forces healthcare providers to allocate their resources most cost-efficiently. Today we explain how DevOps helps ensure security and cost-efficiency of IT operations in healthcare and why working with Managed Services Providers is the best choice for this task.

With the COVID-19 pandemic on the loose, the pressure on all healthcare providers is multiplied, as all hospitals have to be ready to treat the patients infected with the coronavirus. The problem here is that it is becoming obvious that the quarantine will not be lifted by April or May. Some of the leading German and US virologists say COVID-19 outbreak will be active at least until autumn and will return in waves throughout the next 2 years. Thus, healthcare facilities across the globe will have to handle waves after waves of infected patients until the vaccine is developed, and this is a year away at the earliest.

However, the treatment does not come for free, so the patients should be able to keep their bills paid, which means enacting their insurance or getting paid for the services provided. This, in turn, means that their financial and personal details must be securely stored and processed by hospital IT systems. Unfortunately, most established healthcare institutions worldwide have mainframe systems built decades ago, which were never meant to deal with the challenge like coronavirus — not only in terms of data storage capacity or security but also in terms of data throughput intensity, as this pandemic crisis will have several key differences from any other you have previously experienced:

  • Global quarantine means the inability (or big hurdles) for foreign specialists to visit your facility in person — so you need to be able to communicate with them online and use their assistance through teleconferencing and other means of online communication.
  • The same goes for telemedicine as many patients with pathologies and various disabilities will not be able to visit your clinic or hospital in person, so examining and consulting them online can be the only way to help them fight their illnesses.
  • The Worldwide Healthcare Organization asks all healthcare organizations involved in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak to provide their data on the treatment, as applying Machine Learning models to analyzing this vast expanse of data can be vital for finding the cure faster. There already are AI solutions for providing diagnosis faster, but they must be trained on huge volumes of historical data.

    While maintaining the AI farms required for delivering these calculations is a costly deal available only to industry-leading farmaceutical corporations and healthcare organizations, every healthcare facility worldwide can become an endpoint for uploading such data to the cloud, thus doing their part in fighting the pandemic. Your systems should just be able to connect to the cloud via API, scale up and down on-demand and upload large volumes of data seamlessly.

Therefore, in order to sufficiently meet and overcome the upcoming challenges, your IT infrastructure must be scalable, secure, flexible and resilient. What’s worse, if it isn’t that way now, you have only a limited time to do this, before the pandemic strikes in earnest. This is where DevOps comes into action!

DevOps for healthcare: we can help you prepare for fighting the COVID-19!

DevOps is an approach to handling software development and infrastructure management operations, centered at automating the routine tasks to free up time and effort needed for improving the systems and processes, removing the bottlenecks and ensuring the stability of operations under heavy workloads. DevOps is not a tool, neither is it a skillset — it is a mindset, a culture of using certain toolchains and workflows to improve the efficiency of IT operations in general. It cannot be bought quickly, but you can gain access to it in one of three major ways:

  • You can hire a DevOps specialist in-house locally or as a remote freelancer. Both of these choices were viable until March 2020, but are quite impossible nowadays and for the foreseeable future. First of all, it is not prudent to trust your secure customer data to an outsider without any legal backup, regardless of their rating on TopTal. secondly, most DevOps engineers live in large startup hubs like the Valley, MIT or Frisco, and relocating them to your location can not be an option.

    Besides, hiring a DevOps engineer for the healthcare industry can be quite risky, if the specialist does not have the required background and expertise like HIPAA compliance. This process might also take quite long, and time is a luxury we cannot afford to spend during the pandemic.
  • This is why many companies and organizations opt for DevOps adoption as a managed service from their cloud computing providers. It is a decent option in terms of HIPAA compliance, expertise reliability and instant access to skilled professionals. However, working with technical support from cloud service providers or their affiliated partners means going for vendor lock-in and using their platform-specific tools to build your infrastructures and processes.

    However, this approach means your requests will be handled in a common queue with tickets from thousands of other AWS, GCP or Azure customers. For instance, while 4 hours until the response is considered a normal time covered by SLA, it is clearly not fast enough if your data upload to the cloud fails. Most importantly, platform-specific services are designed to work in bundles and you have to pay for the whole batch, even if your processes require only some system components and the rest can be safely replaced with open-source alternatives. 
  • The third possibility is working with Managed DevOps Services Providers like IT Svit, and this approach combines the benefits of two others without any of their downsides. When getting your DevOps services from and IT outsourcing provider, you get instant access to a pool of professionals with ample experience in the tasks you need to be performed. You sign a legally binding contract,  NDA and SLA, protecting your rights and interests of both parties.

    IT outsourcing teams prefer working with open-source tools to build flexible modular systems, where every cloud platform-specific component can be replaced on demand. This helps minimize your operational expenses and ensures resilience of operations.

    Finally, a dedicated DevOps team can be easily hired to deliver the needed infrastructure and build processes and then you simply part ways with no hard feelings, once both parties fulfill their contractual obligations. Should you ever need other DevOps services — you can hire the same or another team with ease.

To wrap it up — oncoming pandemic requires maximum efficiency from all parts of healthcare operations and processes, including the IT environment. DevOps is the best approach for ensuring reliability and resilience of IT operations — and working with Managed DevOps Services Providers like IT Svit is the most cost-efficient way of gaining access to DevOps expertise. Should you need assistance with DevOps for your healthcare company or organization — let us know, we are always ready to help!

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