Legacy architecture is the number one cause of outages in health care systems. But now, there’s a way to help clear those roadblocks for Canadian health care organizations.

New technologies, from electronic records systems to wearables and robotics, have huge potential to improve the health care experience, said Cisco Solutions Architect David Jirku at a recent ITWC webinar. But they may not have the desired outcome if the network can’t support them. “All innovations rely on the underlying infrastructure,” said Jirku. “You can’t drive a Ferrari on a dirt road. You want to rely on a road that meets the performance and security requirements.”

The Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM) helps smooth out the bumps in the road for these organizations. It provides an objective assessment of their infrastructure today, and what they need to do to support new services.

A roadmap to bring your infrastructure up to speed

INFRAM  was developed by Cisco and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to solve common challenges for health care organizations.  “Organizations were building new hospitals, and asking what they need to do today to fulfill the unknown requirements of the future,” said Jirku.

As well, more health care organizations are moving from paper to electronic medical records (EMR), but their infrastructures are not keeping pace. Jirku noted one situation where a hospital’s EMR system failed on day one because the infrastructure could not carry the new load. “The doctors revolted and went back to paper charting,” he said.  The same thing could happen if the new application is too cumbersome to use, he added.

The INFRAM model helps with an overall digital strategy roadmap. It gives health care organizations a third party review of their infrastructure, measured against a standard, worldwide benchmark, said Jessica Swanson, Account Manager for HIMSS Analytics. “It identifies where you are today and the gaps you need to fill to be able to deliver the applications to meet the needs of patients and clinicians.”

The evaluation starts with a detailed survey to assess an organization’s infrastructure to determine its maturity level on a scale of one to seven. The model outlines the type of applications that organizations can support at each stage of their infrastructure development.  “Organizations have the most success when they work with an INFRAM certified partner to guide them on what they need to do to move forward,” said Jirku.

The benefits of a holistic assessment

One of the top advantages of INFRAM is that health care organizations get one big picture of everything, Jirku said. “Often, a lot of people come and go and there isn’t one person who understands everything that has been installed.”

The model also makes it easier to communicate with the leadership team from an objective perspective, he said. “It shows where best to make use of a limited budget to make a difference. You can clearly identify the gaps, and the health care outcomes that will be enabled by a technology investment.”

When Michael Cole joined the Markham Stouffville Hospital as its new CTO, he jumped on the opportunity to get a “succinct snapshot” of the hospital’s infrastructure. “It provided a strong starting point, showcasing where we were at the time and what we needed to do to craft tangible steps to drive forward.”