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How healthcare organizations are anticipating endpoint device maintenance

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists rely on sophisticated monitoring and assessment capabilities to acquire the data and insight needed to effectively treat the human system and ensure the health of their patients.

These data-gathering activities, however, must be more than one-dimensional to be effective. Medical practitioners must be able to simultaneously look at multiple aspects of the human state to understand the root causes of the patient’s symptoms and look at the larger population to spot trends or to identify population-affecting issues before they get out of control. With proper information, they make informed decisions and can ultimately take the correct actions to heal or to prolong the life of the patient.

In much the same way, the corporate IT department must implement processes and preventive maintenance practices to ensure the health of the endpoint devices that are under its care across the enterprise.

To do so, it’s imperative that the IT departments of healthcare organizations keep pace with technology innovations that enable them to better monitor and take the pulse of their IT infrastructure, applications and services. Unfortunately, many of them are stuck in a bygone age, similar to when local doctors made house calls with nothing more than the contents of their physician’s bag to help them. In many companies, “turn it off and reboot,” is still the IT version of the old-fashioned “take two of these pills and call me in the morning” remedy. Just imagine if medical best practice still promoted this “one size fits all” approach to patient care.

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Photo of IV drip intravenous infusion pump medical equipment in a hospital room

Of course, modern IT healthcare professionals already have access to more than the IT equivalent of the physician’s bag. There are a multitude of monitoring tools for hardware, networks, applications and IT service management (ITSM) that provide knowledge management and problem management capabilities. However, these tools and capabilities typically focus on one thing at a time – they don’t look across the enterprise-wide spectrum of IT activities, through a single lens, to see how many “patients” have the same issue or to spot a potential outbreak if preventive measures aren’t quickly applied across the population.

Some would argue that this is classic ITSM problem management – you spot a trend, you investigate, you identify the root cause or causes, and you apply a fix (probably via change management). But this is commonly a one-dimensional approach, and relies on human intervention to address repetitive or multiple-impact issues and identify a particular problem to be rectified. There’s no way of knowing if there are connections between different issues that are missed through the one-dimensional approach.

Also See: How device identification will help healthcare delivery

Recent research from leading market research firm Gartner indicates that many enterprises are now hiring data scientists and integrating a new class of data gathering and analysis tools, IT Operations Analytics (ITOA), to enable multi-dimensional analysis that will yield more informed IT decisions and outcomes for end-point devices. Designed as a method for consuming and distilling vast amounts of IT related activity data, ITOA aims to help IT professionals address the multitude of operational issues that “keep them awake at night.”

Gartner research states that “By 2018, 50 percent of global enterprises will have deployed machine learning technologies in support of two or more major ITOA functions, up from fewer than 10 percent in 2015.” That data was cited in Gartner’s Digital Business Initiatives Demand the Use of IT Operations Analytics to Spark Transformation, written by Colin Fletcher in March 2015.

ITOA greatly simplifies issue detection, diagnosis and prescriptive resolution of complex IT support and performance issues. It also enables healthcare IT professionals to see the real end-user experience, measure the impact of changes, apply proactive remediation to recurring issues and accelerate issue resolution by quickly determining the probable cause.

The healthcare industry is an early adopter of ITOA for many good reasons. Today’s healthcare organizations are faced with enormous challenges in delivering a broad spectrum of health services to large patient communities – from managing costs to meeting regulatory compliance and delivering the right care at the right time. Added to that, new healthcare technology is transforming the way patient care is delivered, including automated monitoring of patient vitals, barcode medication administration systems and electronic medical records (EMRs). The Hospital Information System (HIS) affects every aspect of the organization’s operations, and it empowers clinicians to make better decisions and provide optimum treatment.

One progressive healthcare organization leading the charge in implementing ITOA applications to address this complexity and ensure that critical applications are proactively monitored is Advocate Health Care, the largest fully integrated health care delivery system in Illinois. Advocate Health Care is responsible for supporting more than 35,000 end-point devices and 40,000 end-users, ranging from accountants and administrators, to doctors and nurses. Because of this, it needs to be able to closely monitor in real time all end-point devices to ensure their ability to be up and running at all times. Leveraging ITOA solutions, the organization is able to gain this visibility, see patterns that can indicate problems and get to the root cause of problems in minutes, when it would previously take weeks to resolve.

Just as technology innovation is transforming the way patient care is delivered, IT Operations Analytics is enabling real-time visibility into the health of end-point devices, which empower all of the functions of the healthcare organization. For CIOs who are measured on service availability, service delivery and customer experience, ITOA solutions ensure that the wealth of potentially accessible IT data is leveraged to ensure the best end-user experience, resulting in the best patient outcomes and an easier life for IT professionals.

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