As a user of healthcare services in the US, I can attest to how rapidly the delivery of those services has changed over the past two years. The impacts of Covid forced interactions in many sectors online and into apps, but in healthcare the pandemic effect has kick-started a full-blown transition, with everything from consultations to health checks to lab results accessed via our smartphones.
Data – and data storage – is now an intrinsic part of the healthcare sector, so it’s hardly surprising that the healthcare and high-tech sectors are becoming intertwined. There are similarities between the delivery of buildings in these sectors too, and the hurdles such rapid build programs face. Lessons learned in one sector may be useful in the other.
The past two years have also seen a frantic period of mergers and acquisitions among healthcare companies, driven by the fast-changing Healthtech landscape. Some smaller players have been on the hunt for the capital needed to adapt to the digital age. For instance, Colorado-based SCL Health merged with bigger player Intermountain Healthcare in 2022, promising its customers access to digital healthcare services.
Other deals have been fueled by the digital ambitions of larger organizations which have acquired data healthcare start-ups and, with them, the digital expertise and services they need. Although acquisitions peaked in 2021, analysts predict that activity will continue, albeit at a slower pace.
Conversely, we have seen big tech companies acquiring healthcare companies, underlining the close and overlapping relationship between tech and health. Amazon’s acquisition of healthcare provider One Medical earlier this year followed on from its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack in 2018. Meanwhile, Google acquired breathing monitoring app Sound Life Sciences and wearables company Fitbit in 2022.
More data, more storage
The proliferation of health sector apps, together with digital records and the increasing use of AI for diagnostics, treatment and recovery all add up to rising demands for data storage. Already, an estimated 30% of the world’s data comes from the healthcare sector, with the annual growth rate of data in healthcare predicted to grow faster than manufacturing, financial services and entertainment.
On-premises server warehouses won’t be sufficient by themselves anymore. Instead, healthcare operators are adding in cloud storage with large colocation providers such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon. However, for processes that require a low degree of latency, data storage close to home will still be needed which could be achieved through third-party operated edge data centers or specialist on-site facilities. Logically, with the demand for data storage, this could mean that data centers and new hospitals are located closer together, which will have implications for site selection in terms of both power consumption and water demands.
It will be interesting to see how the symbiotic relationship between healthcare and data impacts on data storage in the future. The data center sector is facing multiple constraints currently due to shortages of land, insufficient power supplies and long lead times for certain pieces of plant and equipment. In overcoming these constraints, operators are looking to new procurement routes, earlier engagement with parts of the supply chain, and renewable energy generation – all tactics that could be useful in the healthcare sector too.
To find out more about how Soben can help you bridge the gap between your healthcare facilities and technology, get in touch with Mark using the details below:
Director – U.S. & Canada