White Paper Watch: How is Selecting the Right Data Center like Buying Beer?

Healthcare owners have several data center options--depending on the size and needs of their companies--to manage sensitive patient data. Photo by David Cox

As Healthcare and IT converge, healthcare owners have several options in managing the ever-growing number of electronic health records

Electronic data continues to grow exponentially in healthcare. With the evolution of technology and millions of new patients joining healthcare systems due to the Affordable Care Act, owners must manage massive amounts of sensitive patient data.


Ten years ago, electronic health records consisted mostly of financial data. Today, electronic records encompass much more than that, including medical test results, scans and other patient history. One large healthcare provider says that in 2004 it managed 800,000 electronic health records. The number jumped to 40 million in 2012, and the provider expects it to rise to 53 million by 2016.


To store this information, healthcare owners need data centers. An owner must consider which data center option works best for their company’s size and needs. Smaller healthcare institutions may need more immediately deployable solutions, whereas larger organizations may need to own and operate their own data centers.

In a new DPR white paper, “The Convergence of Healthcare and IT,” DPR’s Hamilton Espinosa, Mark Thompson and David Ibarra use the analogy of buying beer to explain owners’ options for healthcare data storage:

  • Pint: Ordering a pint at the local pub means everything—from purveying the beer to the glass to the bar service—is done for you. Patrons pay a premium for the ease of full service. Similarly, when a healthcare owner leases servers for cloud storage and processing, the provider supplies the environment, equipment, and service needed to manage the data.
  • 6-Pack: Buying a six-pack at the grocery store involves a little more action from the buyer, but the price per beer is cheaper than at a bar. A hosted data center or colocation facility requires more effort and setup than the full-service option.
  • 36-Pack: If you know you’ll need a fair amount of beer, buying in bulk is cheaper still. In this “bulk” data center option, the owner leases substantial data storage and processing capacity.
  • Keg: This “build your own adventure” option is for the healthcare owner that owns and operates their own data center.

Read more about the full spectrum of data center options available to healthcare owners in “The Convergence of Healthcare and IT”.