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5 Benefits of virtualization to healthcare

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Virtualization has the potential to be a game-changing tool for all industries, including healthcare. This innovative technology allows businesses of any size to operate beyond their traditional physical and financial capacities. But how does this translate to real-world benefits for healthcare providers, patients, and the industry at large? In this article, we will examine the six key benefits that virtualization can offer healthcare.

What is virtualization?

Before we get into the benefits of virtualization, we need to understand what it is and how it functions.

Essentially, virtualization is the creation of virtual simulations of networks, servers, storage, and other physical machines. By leveraging these virtual constructs, organizations can simulate the functionalities of physical hardware, thereby facilitating the operation of multiple virtual machines simultaneously on a few physical machines. This not only optimizes hardware resources but also creates the backbone for efficient cloud computing services, enhancing infrastructure management within an organization.

How can virtualization benefit healthcare?

Virtualization offers a unique set of advantages that can optimize operations, enhance patient care, and empower healthcare IT teams:

1. Cost savings

Healthcare organizations often struggle with a hodgepodge of equipment, each piece dedicated to a single task such as internet security, network routing, or connection optimization. This fragmented approach can be cumbersome and expensive because of equipment purchasing, installation, and maintenance costs, in addition to the space and infrastructure needs. 

Fortunately, virtualization can consolidate these functions into a few virtual devices. This consolidation costs far less compared to traditional hardware, freeing up valuable resources for patient care and innovation. Additionally, the inherent flexibility and scalability of virtualization allows for faster and cheaper adjustments to IT infrastructure.

2. IT staff productivity

The healthcare industry’s 24/7 operations create unique issues for IT teams, especially when staffing for night and weekend shifts. Just finding qualified personnel willing to work unconventional hours can feel like an uphill battle. As a result, the sheer amount of necessary software and hardware maintenance can severely tax your existing IT personnel.

Thankfully, virtualized networks can automate tasks such as software updates, patching, and equipment management, significantly reducing the workload on IT staff. This frees IT teams to focus their efforts on initiatives that directly impact the core objectives of the healthcare organization, such as patient care and utility for the medical staff.

3. Improved prioritization

In healthcare, every second counts, and timely access to critical patient data can make all the difference. But traditional networks often struggle to prioritize this life-saving information. 

On the other hand, virtual networks can be adjusted to identify and prioritize crucial data, such as medical scans and treatment plans. By diverting less critical tasks to alternative pathways, the virtual network ensures that bandwidth flows freely for critical applications. This translates directly to faster diagnoses, improved treatment delivery, and ultimately, better healthcare outcomes for everyone.  

4. Enhanced centralization

Healthcare mergers, relocations, and expansions often result in network integration issues, as the old infrastructure needs to be updated or moved. This can drag out the process, hindering the swift reestablishment of operations. 

However, virtualized networks allow healthcare systems to seamlessly connect disparate networks, enabling them to function quickly as a cohesive whole. In addition, this in-built agility allows for the flexible scaling of network resources across different locations.   

5. Minimized downtime

Traditional physical server environments can be vulnerable to extended downtime during unexpected events, such as power outages or disasters (including fire, flooding, hardware failure, and cyberattack). This can have significant consequences for healthcare operations, impacting patient care and business continuity. 

Virtualized environments offer increased resilience because of their capacity for rapid provisioning and redeployment. By replicating or cloning affected virtual machines within minutes, virtual networks can minimize disruption to critical healthcare services. This swift recovery process ensures continued functionality and bolsters overall business continuity, even during unforeseen circumstances.

Other applications of virtualization

The benefits of virtualization extend beyond these five key benefits into more niche applications. For example, you can use virtual desktops to provide secure access to patient records from anywhere, better enabling remote consultations and improved patient care continuity. You can host virtual labs for medical research and training, facilitating collaboration and accelerating advancements in healthcare.  

Contact predictiveIT today to discuss how you can integrate virtualization and other innovative technologies into your healthcare organization.