5 Best Practices for Healthcare Data Centers


Healthcare team member on mobile device using data center technology


Healthcare organizations face an increasing need for secure and efficient data management. Whether you’re trusting a colocation or cloud provider or you’re hosting your data center on-site, make sure you know these five best practices all healthcare data centers should abide by.

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1. Comply with Privacy Regulations

Data privacy is a priority in any industry, but it’s especially critical in healthcare. Healthcare organizations must comply with stringent regulations that govern patient data, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the U.S. and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

How should this compliance inform your data center strategy? You have two main options:

  1. Maintain a private on-premises data center: Some healthcare organizations choose to keep their data storage in-house. That means keeping data in a private data center, often located on the premises of their facility and managed by IT employees of the company. Maintaining your own data center allows you to exercise more control over operations to ensure you’re 100 percent compliant with privacy regulations.
  2. Partner with a HIPAA-compliant provider: Whether as an alternative or in addition to an on-premises data center, healthcare organizations can also carefully select third-party vendors for data center services or cloud computing solutions. Ensure any vendor you partner with can absolutely guarantee compliance with relevant security standards and has robust security measures in place to protect your healthcare data.

2. Implement Robust Security Measures

Robust security measures are key to preventing unauthorized access to data center facilities. This includes both physical security and cybersecurity measures. For example, you can protect data by:

  • Securing entry points and implementing stronger access controls.
  • Using a surveillance system and security guards.
  • Encrypting data to make it unreadable to unauthorized users.
  • Conducting regular security audits to proactively address vulnerabilities.

If you’re building a data center, consider security from the earliest stages of your project. You can also opt for a prefabricated modular data center that comes equipped with security features already in place.

3. Ensure Redundancy and Resilience

Research from Uptime Institute reveals some alarming trends when it comes to the inescapable issue of data center outages. According to their 2022 report, 80 percent of data center managers and operators have experienced an outage in the past three years.

These outages can have costly consequences—especially for industries like healthcare that deal with sensitive data and depend on access to that data to provide quality care. Healthcare organizations may also depend on their data centers to keep critical systems up and running, such as smart medical devices.Outages happen, so you must be prepared with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan and redundancy strategies that ensure an outage won’t mean a devastating data loss or disruption. In addition to redundant power on-site, consider backing up data to a second data center location to mitigate the risk of data loss in the event of an outage or cyberattack.

4. Monitor Performance

A data center is a living, breathing ecosystem; you need to continuously monitor its health and performance. Modern software tools can help you accomplish that goal. You can even set up alerts to promptly identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

Some key metrics you may want to track include:

  • Server uptime
  • Storage capacity and utilization
  • Server and network performance (including CPU utilization, memory usage, network bandwidth and latency)
  • Operating conditions (including temperature and humidity)
  • Power usage effectiveness (PUE)

If you’re considering working with a colocation or cloud provider, ask them to share their track record on these metrics and their service-level agreement to help you make an informed decision.

5. Optimize Efficiency

As we saw, PUE is an important metric to track. To reduce energy costs and shrink your environmental footprint, you need to minimize waste and maximize efficiency.

Here are a few approaches healthcare organizations can employ to make their data centers as efficient as possible:

    • Upgrade to more efficient IT equipment.
    • Implement strategies like workload cleanup and virtual machine consolidation to reduce energy consumption.
    • Aim for a space-efficient design to minimize unnecessary energy expenditure.
    • Prioritize efficient cooling infrastructure—cooling can account for 40 percent of data center energy consumption.
    • Use monitoring tools to ensure optimal data center operations.

Modular Data Centers: A Valuable Solution for Healthcare Organizations

Whether you opt for an on-premises data center or trust a third-party provider, maintaining data privacy, implementing robust security measures, ensuring redundancy and resilience, monitoring performance and optimizing efficiency are essential best practices that should inform your approach.

If you want to build out your private computing capacity on-site, consider deploying a modular data center. This innovative method of data center construction offers greater efficiency, scalability and more.

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