Feb 14 2024

IT Operations Services Can Transform Healthcare Technology Investments

ITOps teams can help hospitals and other practices make the best use of their existing technologies to streamline operations.

Healthcare practices need to run smoothly around the clock — and so do their IT services. Amid ongoing challenges such as rising operational costs and labor shortages, many organizations are strategically stretching their resources to do more with less. 

This is where IT operations plays a pivotal role in supporting healthcare systems. ITOps teams are optimizing existing technology investments to increase efficiency and ensure that patient care is delivered seamlessly.

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What Is IT Operations?

ITOps is the quarterback of the entire IT system. It is responsible for implementing, managing, delivering and supporting the IT services that keep the organization functioning. 

“ITOps is the business of running your business in the healthcare ecosystem,” says Brendan Fowkes, global industry technology leader for healthcare at IBM.

“Hospitals have all of these mission-critical applications running in different places, including on-premises and in private and public clouds. They all need to talk to each other and they can’t go down.” 

In a healthcare setting, ITOps oversees both legacy technologies and newer ones — from PCs, telephones and on-premises data centers to cloud-based electronic medical record systems and AI software.

“ITOps does the blocking and tackling required to keep a practice running,” adds Bryan Bearden, CTO at Healthcare Outcomes Performance Company (HOPCo). “From the tools a practitioner uses to register and monitor patients to the security systems that guard against cybercriminals, all of that is ITOps.” 

DISCOVER: Is your healthcare organization using the cloud to its fullest potential?

How Can IT Operations Optimize Existing Technologies?

“ITOps is an evolving discipline, and there’s a lot more to it than just keeping the lights on,” Fowkes says. “Where do I get the most bang for the buck? A true ITOps strategy will help with constrained IT budgets.”

ITOps teams are implementing multiple solutions to optimize technologies.

Cloud Infrastructure 

Healthcare organizations are increasingly relying on private, public and hybrid cloud computing services. One major benefit of the cloud is the ability to more easily “transition toward more modern technologies,” Bearden says.

In addition, “moving our PACS images to the cloud allowed us to avoid an expensive server upgrade that we would have needed to maintain our on-premises legacy solution,” he adds.

If used correctly, cloud infrastructure is also cost-effective. Fowkes says that healthcare organizations can significantly reduce costs by closely tracking their cloud computing and paying only for the storage space they need.

Brendan Fowkes
ITOps is an evolving discipline, and there’s a lot more to it than just keeping the lights on … A true ITOps strategy will help with constrained IT budgets.”

Brendan Fowkes Global Industry Technology Leader for Healthcare, IBM


Automation improves productivity and helps IT teams work more efficiently. Remotely deploying a systemwide upgrade is far less disruptive to hospital operations than taking systems down manually to install patches.

“A comprehensive automation strategy is also part of the security response plan,” Fowkes says. “If you need to fix multiple Windows servers, for example, IT needs to be able to do that quickly before a hacker can get behind the firewall.”

AI Ops

ITOps increasingly uses artificial intelligence capabilities, including natural language processing and machine learning, to automate tasks and help clinicians provide better care. 

The role of ITOps is to make sure that the applications running the AI continue to operate smoothly. Fowkes says that it falls to the data science team to “ensure that the AI models are harnessed correctly and don’t wander off and do something they’re not supposed to.”

READ MORE: Get the most out of your electronic health record.

Managed Services Can Further Enhance Operational Efficiencies 

All of the above strategies can be further optimized with the help of managed services. Expert third-party vendors can help healthcare organizations consolidate IT services, control costs and prevent employee burnout.

“By delegating a lot of those traditional IT operation support functions to a Google or an Amazon or a Microsoft and offloading a lot of the monitoring and maintenance and upgrades to them, you find yourself with more budget and bandwidth to direct toward additional patient and physician-impacting technologies,” Bearden says.

For example, he says, HOPCo’s ITOps team has benefited from outsourcing many of its help desk needs. “We have people answering phones 24 hours a day who can remotely log in and assist clinicians,” Bearden explains. “We supplement that with our onsite experts, who are more white-glove and more visible to the practitioners. We have found that to be a successful model.”

An enterprise platform vendor can also offer comprehensive services in one package. This can spare healthcare organizations from building their own systems or managing partnerships with multiple vendors.

To ensure existing technologies are optimized to the fullest, Fowkes urges ITOps teams first to examine their processes, locate any inefficiencies and then strategize about how to improve them. “If you automate a bad process, all you achieve is doing something wrong a little faster,” he warns.

“At the end of the day, when IT systems are more efficient and the clinicians’ jobs are made easier, that ultimately benefits the patients.” 

Getty Images: monkeybusinessimages, LeManna

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