APM in the Hospital – Will You Have an IT Attack?

August 30, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

A recent visit to the hospital with a friend who had a severe reaction to incompatible medications brought home in a vivid way just how important computer applications have become in operating a hospital efficiently. Gone are the clip-boards at the end of the bed and doctors flipping through the attached charts. During this visit, the nurses and doctors stepped up to a computer monitor and checked everything on a screen. Even answers to the admittance questionnaire were entered directly into a computer.

All this would seem to be a great advance. Your patient’s medical records are available for anyone on the medical staff to review. There is minimal risk that data will be entered incorrectly as it is transferred from paper to computer. Yet, there lurk risks that the end-users, your medical staff, should never have to deal with-the risk that information may be lost or become unavailable for retrieval. Your hospital could have an IT attack such as a denial of service.

While never fatal, IT attacks can cripple a hospital and severely injure the bottom line. Who needs a lawsuit because the medical records didn’t say, “Allergy to iodine”?

Who Prevents IT Attacks?

Typically, most hospitals expect IT to monitor the performance of all the technology. That means monitoring of applications come with that responsibility. The nurses and doctors, and even hospital administrators don’t care how complex the IT system is. Just make sure the system doesn’t crash. Just make sure slow-downs are kept to a minimum.

IT unfortunately may spend most of its time putting out fires, trying to figure out what’s causing mysterious slowdowns and other symptoms of angina in the IT stack. Trying to track down why certain transactions execute correctly most of the time but don’t at other times is worse than trying to stitch together a cut without a needle.

In the high-paced environment of most hospitals, IT is as motivated as anyone else in the hospital to have everything running as it’s supposed to be. The biggest fear is that a cascading failure will impact patients and the staff who care for them. Yet, it may seem impossible to prevent these IT attacks.

Application Performance Management is Preventative Medicine for IT Attacks.

Each execution of a command initiates a transaction that needs to be monitored for proper execution. No hospital can afford the loss of data, and applications are what port data from one terminal to another. Monitoring and managing the availability, performance, and configuration of applications, and keeping the provisioning of complex IT hospital centric business applications up to date is essential if IT is to support and grow a hospital’s efficiency.

There can be hundreds of different applications interacting with each other at extremely high speeds and volumes. Without the different capabilities of APM at their disposal, IT can’t possible keep up. IT can’t possibly prevent IT attacks.

When IT puts the right APM solution in place, it’s akin to inoculating the IT applications. Not only can IT reduce the risk of IT attacks significantly, it can start recognizing the malignant processes that lead to cascading failure in their earliest stages.

Is it time you learned more about application performance management and its benefits for hospitals?

Denise Rutledge has been researching the topic of application performance management (APM) and complex event processing (CEP) since 2009. In the course of her research she discovered one of the most interesting smaller APM providers, Nastel Technologies. The company’s AutoPilot software line has been using CEP for over 10 years to deliver business transaction performance (BTP) solutions. Growth into APM was natural. Forrester Research recognizes AutoPilot as one of the most successful integrations of complex event processing and application performance management in the market.

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