Sep 07 2017
Patient-Centered Care

Infrastructure Investments Make Precision Medicine Possible

Healthcare organizations must commit to data center and cybersecurity improvements for innovation to thrive.

Precision medicine — an approach that aims to treat individuals using customized therapies — holds massive potential to improve patient care. However, such practices are still in their infancy, as personalized care relies heavily on both time and resources.

In particular, organizations must commit to building out both their data migration and storage capabilities. Flexibility is especially key as data needs rise and fall.

Some providers have already set out on their precision medicine journey, holistically building out their infrastructure today to ensure tomorrow’s care is as targeted and innovative as possible.

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One such organization is Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, which launched its precision medicine program geared toward cancer care in February 2015.

For the hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., the journey began a year earlier when leadership realized the older infrastructure was hindering loftier care goals. Nearly two-thirds of its IT environment was more than 7 years old; another 12 percent was 11 years old.

It was then that Wake Forest Baptist opted to deploy a hybrid cloud from Dell EMC. The technology has been integral in supporting its genomic sequencing efforts, drastically decreasing both the hospital’s server use and CPU load.

New Infrastructure Supports ‘Dynamic’ Care

Several other organizations are also shoring up their technology foundations to take the precision medicine plunge. At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference in Orlando earlier this year, Dr. John Deeken, COO for Inova Translational Medicine Institute in Falls Church, Va., talked about the need to build out the medical center’s physical configuration to be less “reactive and static” and more “preemptive and dynamic.” Having the right IT infrastructure in place enables timely insights to be a routine part of Inova’s workflow.

Kaiser Permanente launched its Kaiser Permanente Research Bank in April 2016, which taps into information stored in the health system’s integrated electronic health record system. Ensuring privacy and security for all participants’ information is a top priority, especially considering the state of cybersecurity in the industry.

What’s more, the University of California, San Francisco recently announced a $10 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, to launch the university’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences. The institute plans to recycle existing patient data in its work. The money will go toward building its Spoke knowledge network, which will provide access to the data.

Precision medicine’s role in the future of the healthcare industry looks incredibly promising. Without a robust technology infrastructure in place, however, organizations simply won’t be able to meet their own needs or the needs of their patients.

Healthcare facilities must be willing to not only invest in their data centers, but also in enhanced cybersecurity to ensure patient privacy. The time is now to make those investments.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.


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