Strategic technology for future applications and deployment models

The healthcare industry is experiencing radical technology changes like never before, with the ability to directly focus on improving patient outcomes while decreasing infrastructure costs. Healthcare applications incorporate an intricate combination of advanced technology, but their rapid growth and complexity has driven the demands for digital transformation.

The proliferation and speed of incoming data holds unprecedented potential for healthcare organizations. It is driving organizations to adopt application modernization services to support effective and secure management and storage of their data. It is the key to reaping the long-term value and benefits of running applications and IT infrastructure in the cloud, enabling more flexibility, agility, security, and scalability.

And this is where containerization can help.

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In this post, we’ll outline 5 key benefits of containerization in healthcare, and define its importance for this industry.

What is Containerization?

Put simply, containerization is a virtualization technique, where application software code runs in isolated spaces called containers. Each container can be thought of as a portable computing environment, which can run on any infrastructure. Traditionally, errors would surface when software code was shifted to a new environment. But since a container encapsulates everything an application requires to run (binaries, config files, libraries, dependencies etc.) its portable nature eliminates these errors.

Containers operate outside the host operating system (OS), which means the host OS is not having to use valuable resources to run the applications. This makes containerization a highly efficient virtualization method, enabling quick and secure custom app development.

The 5 Key Benefits of Containerization in Healthcare

Security

Containerized applications can be configured to have extremely restricted amounts of access or no access with the Host OS or other containers. This helps provide a higher degree of security and limits the effects in case of a malicious attack.

Reduced Cost

Sometimes referred to as lightweight, containers sit outside the host OS which not only reduces server and licensing costs, as they consume minimum resources, but also improves speed of deployment and increases efficiencies.

Portability

Since the container is not dependent on the host OS, the application can be easily and rapidly moved to any infrastructure, whether that’s between clouds or between on-premise locations.

Scalability & Agility

Containerization promotes flexibility. Applications can be scaled automatically to meet changes in demand, while the use of agile DevOps tools can be maximized for rapid application development.

Ease of Management

Container orchestration enables automation of installation, upgrades, deploying new application features or versions, debugging, and management of containerized workloads. This can be achieved via solutions such as Kubernetes.

Why Use Containers for Healthcare?

One of the things that sets the healthcare industry apart, is its stringent regulatory policies relating to data retention. Protected health information (PHI) needs to remain accessible for up to 20 years in the US, for example, and needs to remain just that – protected. In addition, specifically when we think of healthcare applications, there lies the ‘big data’ challenge. In fact, global big data in healthcare is predicted to reach $71.6 billion by 2027, a CAGR of just over 14% during 2022-27! (Research & Markets)

Healthcare organizations have already been making the move from physical to digital environments at a rapid pace, with some now more than 95% going virtual. However, where there still exists a hybrid combination of on-premise and cloud platforms, i.e. a mix of private and public cloud, there could be a compromise between retention compliance over retaining infrastructure dependencies.

This comes into sharp focus as more and more remote healthcare and telehealth applications emerge into the market – the ability to integrate new software and plug-ins at speed is critical. Therefore, the ability to leverage container technology for the healthcare industry provides the ultimate freedom when developing new cloud-native applications. Developers can choose from a wide choice of app stacks, environments, or tools, and by virtue of the portability, applications can be installed within minutes – containerization at its best!

Common Uses of Containerization

Modern healthcare applications can benefit vastly by the rapid evolution of containers which can provide an efficient way to run the latest microservices in production environments. In fact, microservices and containerization share similar concepts: they both break down applications into a subset of services that are portable and easier to manage. 

Rapid application development frameworks, like SourceFuse ARC (formerly known as SourceLoop) are accelerating the utilization of containers and microservices for development of modern cloud native enterprise applications for the healthcare industry.

SourceFuse ARC (App Reusable Components) drives up development productivity by automating rollout, simplifying design, build & testing by leveraging a catalog of battle tested microservices suited for most healthcare enterprise use cases. Over a period of time it has matured into a platform that caters to the growing need of enterprises to fast track their digital transformation journey and legacy modernization.

Summary

Although the concept of containers has been around for a couple of decades, it is really only since the increase in availability of open-source licenses that the use of containerization for new application builds has really accelerated.

When it comes to the healthcare industry, we’re not talking about ‘nice to have’ applications, but applications that are essential to the provision of continuous care. Governed by the strictest compliance, new or updated healthcare regulatory policies are ever present – telehealth applications need to be able to quickly and seamlessly respond and adapt.

Therefore, increasing investments in a containerized cloud-native infrastructure will provide the necessary agility and scalability while maximizing security, supporting app modernization to accomplish long-term business goals.

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*First appeared in SaaS Industry, 2022