MATÍAS PELUFFO, vice president of growth solutions at CommScope, discusses why intelligent infrastructure is key to improving power efficiency in the healthcare industry
HOSPITALS across Europe are currently struggling with the need to upgrade and expand their IT infrastructure to deal with rising patient numbers. However, they are also under great financial strain. For example, 10% of hospitals in England may not be financially sustainable in the face of an increasingly-aged population requiring more medical care. This means that CIOs are also under pressure to demonstrate tangible time and cost savings through efficient IT management.
Thus, today’s healthcare CIOs need to both drive IT efficiencies in the short-term and ensure their investments today will support the demands of doctors and nurses well into the future. This is no easy task in complex environments, where information and images must be transmitted quickly and efficiently to support the correct treatments and diagnoses.
Knowledge, as they say, is power and the detrimental effects of not completely understanding how your IT environment is functioning are obvious
A good example of this complexity comes from overseas at Hvidovre Hospital, one of Denmark’s largest medical centres. The hospital has 725 beds and treats more than 40,000 inpatients each year. Its 35 departments also include the country’s largest maternity unit, dealing with more than 5,000 births a year. Ensuring the fastest possible response times from the hospital’s 3,500 medical staff is absolutely key for its IT infrastructure.
Recently-installed 10Gb copper cabling connects outlets throughout the wards, operating theatres and clinics, as well as administrative offices and research departments. This allows the hospital to easily support video conferencing and VoIP, as well as the vital medical systems that also rely on the cabling to deliver critical information to theatres and wards, such as X-Rays and CT scans.
Yet, as the IT infrastructure of hospitals like Hvidovre grows more complex, how can CIOs ensure they are maximising efficiency and lowering costs where possible?
One area that can yield substantial savings is more efficient energy consumption. Looking to make savings here makes sense, not only because of mounting governmental pressure on carbon emissions, but also because of the financial benefits. As energy costs continue to rise, CIOs cannot ignore the need to maximise their power efficiency.
By necessity hospitals consume large amounts of power, but a significant portion of the IT backbone of hospitals is dedicated to supporting patient administration where power continues to be drained by devices such as computers, phones and wireless access points, even when they are not in use.
Energy management software can be combined with intelligent infrastructure to enable hospital IT operations personnel to understand, optimise and control power across the entire network infrastructure, ensuring that non-critical devices only consume power when necessary
To this end, energy management software can be combined with intelligent infrastructure to enable hospital IT operations personnel to understand, optimise and control power across the entire network infrastructure, ensuring that non-critical devices only consume power when necessary.
An intelligent infrastructure solution (IIS) provides the missing link between real-time network management tools and the traditionally passive structured cabling infrastructures that connect network devices together.
By providing an insight into the physical layer, IIS helps IT professionals and network managers ensure the efficiency of their network by providing accurate reports for capacity management; generating real-time alerts to detect, locate and resolve any unauthorised changes within the network; providing automatic discovery and tracking of physical location of devices connected to the network in real-time, and pro-actively applying changes utilising electronic work orders in support of change management.
IIS provides the capability for real-time mapping of switch ports to the physical location of wall outlets and network devices. This is achieved through a combination of data cabling information that is gathered from the intelligent infrastructure hardware and networked device data that is collected from managed network switches.
IIS allows hospital staff to make informed decisions about device usage by making the consequences of such decisions – such as increased demand for power, heat and space – more visible
IIS has complete visibility of every physical location that is connected to each switch port. Whenever cabling information changes, IIS detects that change in real-time and automatically updates the cabling information maintained by the management software. The availability of real-time mapping information between switch ports and the physical location of wall outlets provides IT managers with a very effective way to apply energy management policies to networked devices.
The combination of IIS and energy management can be used to optimise energy consumption by defining when power should be supplied to devices in certain locations, or when they are not in use and can be powered down. For example, a profile could dictate that all the devices in certain areas of a hospital are powered down after 7pm when all the administrative staff have gone home, and then powered-up again at 7am the following morning. These systems can function across a broad level, such as an entire building, right down to specific floors, single rooms, and even to individual wall outlets.
Because such policies are location-based, the systems can selectively exclude certain locations or create specific policies for certain rooms, offices or desks. IIS allows IT managers to select locations onscreen directly from the building layout, and chose the locations where the selected policy is to be applied. One-time polices can also be created to manage devices in rooms that are only used intermittently, like conference rooms or training facilities.
Additionally, IIS has the ability to track changes in network connectivity, allowing for dynamic implementation of energy policies that can be triggered automatically whenever a new connection is established between a switch port and a wall outlet.
Knowledge, as they say, is power and the detrimental effects of not completely understanding how your IT environment is functioning are obvious. IIS allows hospital staff to make informed decisions about device usage by making the consequences of such decisions – such as increased demand for power, heat and space – more visible.
As energy costs continue to rise, CIOs cannot ignore the need to maximise their power efficiency
The total cost of IT is actually hard to define unless you have this kind of visibility and control through intelligent infrastructure. Such systems have, for the first time, allowed IT managers to demonstrate tangible financial benefits to hospitals. They can now say with a degree of certainty: “If you invest in ‘X’, I will show you ‘Y’ savings over ‘Z’ years” Thus, IT managers have become more accountable, but are also able to show they can deliver greater value and prove they are integral to every aspect of a hospital’s success.
In this context, CIOs should re-examine how infrastructure is being used and deployed in their organisations. They need to ask whether existing IT tools are sufficient to make workers more efficient, whether current investments are being optimised, and whether there are alternative technologies that can produce worthwhile savings in both energy and OpEx.
The power of investing in intelligence should not be underestimated in meeting this end.