A Migration Strategy for an Application-Centric World

Over my career, I’ve worked on the EHR vendor side and as a vendor-neutral consultant, where I continue helping healthcare providers transform their technology infrastructure and clinical application environments. Every hospital I worked in hosted a plethora of applications with different requirements. Many of these have to be available 24×7 and carefully mapped to workflows specific to the hospital practices, or they won’t be adopted by users and result in organizational gains. Now, as healthcare facilities become more application dependent in an ever-evolving IT landscape, organizations require efficient application management strategies.

To efficiently deliver optimal application performance for the many workflows used by clinical and business users in the provider environment, health system technology strategies may involve leveraging a variety of computing platforms, such as public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, private clouds, colocation facilities and hybrid configurations. Since moving applications from your current data center to these new environments can be a strenuous process, streamlining the method of transporting applications to these new platforms can minimize downtime, help an organization allocate resources accurately, and even contribute to creating a standardized application strategy in the long run.

Creating a best-practices application migration strategy

The various applications a healthcare organization uses may have different vendor sources, application types, infrastructure requirements, operating systems and versions. To help move these applications, we developed a best-practices application migration strategy that covers all application and infrastructure-related scenarios upfront, leading to no surprises during go-live periods.

Per our methodology, teams can group related applications in an upfront migration assessment. To migrate one or multiple application groups at a time, teams can then use a five-step process to pilot application moves, test key capabilities, go live with minimal disruption, decommission old hardware and track the return on investment for each migration cycle. By providing a repeatable, best-practices strategy for organizations to migrate applications efficiently, this methodology provides a way to avoid operational disruption and save on costs when moving to a new computing platform.

Risks to consider

We all know there will be some downtime during your migration. How your team manages these challenges will either make or break your migration process and potentially increase the risk for further disruption. That downtime will likely be for each application, which can cause a lot of interruption for the end users if not planned correctly or performed at appropriate times. Even if you choose to do a new install of the application on new servers, just migrating the data layer will more than likely require downtime. Plan your migration using the agreed upon utilities and make sure to have a backout plan in case of any issues found that you did not account for during testing to help minimize further risk.

Our methodology in action

Our application migration methodology has been used to aid leading healthcare organizations during largescale IT modernization efforts. In a recent project, I worked with a team to migrate applications during the design and implementation of a redundant architecture and disaster recovery site at Sharp HealthCare’s Rees-Stealy Medical Group facility (RSM). The methodology allowed us to test more than 60 applications for failover and redundancy without impacting the production site or causing business interruptions.

Find out more about the methodology in our recently published white paper, A Five-step Methodology for Application Migration.

About the Author:

Nikhil Raj
Nikhil is an experienced healthcare technologist. His past successes encompass medical interoperability projects that included vital signs technology, lab results systems, fetal monitoring and medication dispensing, and his programming experience includes coding and debugging in Java, C and C++. At T2 Tech Group, he facilitates and manages clinical projects in all aspects of implementation and leverages his clinical applications expertise to help health systems improve their EHRs. In his most recent position before joining T2 Tech, Nikhil was a technology architect for Women’s Health at Cerner Corporation. 

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