Regional Director at Veeam, Gregg Petersen, talks about the importance of data availability in healthcare, especially with the growth of wearable tech and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Data is not only the lifeblood of the organisation, but it plays a critical role in healthcare. As a result of the growth of wearable technology and the IoT, the reliable availability of data has become more important than ever.

Wearable technology that provides live feedback on the wearer’s health helps alert medical staff and users to potential health risks before they become serious. Home scanners allow self-diagnosis, helping avoid a visit to the hospital for less serious ailments, which means hospitals have a more accurate picture if a patient does require treatment.

Additionally, the diagnostic process is helped by the ability to access the pool of the worlds’ health knowledge and provide that to users via internet-connected devices and the cloud. It is now common to look online for symptoms and perform an initial diagnosis without engaging a healthcare professional.

Mobility is increasingly playing a role in healthcare. The IoT, with the likes of home scanners, healthcare apps and dietary trackers all linked to smart devices, produces a tidal wave of data for healthcare organisations. While some of this is vital and should be remembered, much of it is of the moment and can be discarded. In the case of important data such as patient records, it has to be stored and available for many years, if not decades.

Wearables can also provide goals for preventative medicine. For instance, a keen cyclist can easily track their heart rate and calorie-burn using an off-the-shelf tracking device. Their stats are uploaded to the cloud where they can see how they compare to other athletes, encouraging them to push harder and faster and thereby improve fitness gains.

There is an acute need to have reliable access to data. And what about the cost of downtime? According to the 2016 Veeam Availability Report, the average length of unplanned downtime of mission-critical applications is two hours and of non-mission-critical applications five hours. These outages cost organisations up to $16 million per year in downtime and potentially $90,000 per hour in terms of data loss resulting from downtime for mission-critical applications.

In a hospital, the loss of data at a critical juncture could spell the difference between life and death. So having downtime measured in hours and days is simply unacceptable. The availability of data is of paramount importance and outages, where they do occur, must last mere seconds and minutes before data availability is restored.

In the healthcare sector, specific IT systems have to be always on, making data available 24/7, 365 days a year. The costs of a loss of data are too high for complacency to be allowed.

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