Altera Digital Health: Leveraging the Cloud to Address the Needs of Rural and Community Hospitals

Rural and community hospitals face the same challenges as larger health systems. However, with smaller pools of talent and fewer resources, they need more help from their digital partners to address those challenges. Altera Digital Health (Altera) is leveraging the cloud to help this important customer segment.

Healthcare IT Today had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Pratt, MD – Chief Medical Officer for Paragon at Altera Digital Health to learn more about the company’s efforts for rural and community hospitals.

Outsized Impact

Right from the start of the interview it was clear that Dr. Pratt is deeply passionate about rural and community hospitals. He pointed out that the challenges faced by this market segment are not unique, but those challenges have an outsized impact on smaller organizations.

“People forget that these community hospitals are doing everything a large hospital is doing,” said Dr. Pratt. “They are just as complex an organization.”

Dr. Pratt cited three challenges that have a big impact on rural hospitals:

  • Maintaining staffing levels – clinical as well as non-clinical
  • Managing IT infrastructure – costs for equipment & services don’t change based on hospital size
  • Financial constraints – aka revenue

Dr. Pratt wrote about these three challenges in an earlier article posted to the Altera’s website.

Leveraging the Cloud

The Paragon team at Altera have been working with rural and community hospitals for over 25 years and are very familiar with the challenges faced by these organizations.

According to Dr. Pratt, the team has made a conscious effort to leverage the cloud to help these organizations address their challenges. They have worked to modularize or “containerize” their Paragon solution so that it is easier for the team to fix, maintain, and upgrade. This work has significantly reduced the time required by Altera’s customers to update Paragon from as much as 8-10 weeks down to just a few minutes.

By moving to the cloud, Altera can offer Paragon customers all the typical benefits – faster upgrades, less hardware maintenance, fewer specialized IT resources needed, and increased cybersecurity.

Increased Resilience

Improving the security and resilience of Paragon customers was a key goal of moving to the cloud.

“People are losing sleep at night hoping that they’re not going to be a victim of a cyberattack,” explained Dr. Pratt. “We have deployed Paragon in Microsoft Azure. We have the full benefit of the cyber security solutions that Microsoft architected into their platform as well as the full strength of their cyber security team and our own team at Altera. So, we are the ones that are staying up all night rather than our customers.”

Dr. Pratt advises IT leaders at rural communities to put a focus on cybersecurity when evaluating technology partners – and not just the preventative side. He strongly recommends gaining a thorough understanding of the vendor’s disaster recovery processes. Minimizing downtime is critical in healthcare so finding out how the fast a vendor can recover from a cyber attack should be an important consideration.

Additional Benefits

“Putting Paragon on Microsoft’s Azure platform gives us access to other services like cognitive AI,” said Dr. Pratt. “This allows us to offer new solutions to our customers.”

Dr. Pratt is very excited about the potential of ambient clinical voice and the time it will save over-worked physicians. Microsoft through its Nuance acquisition is a leader in this area.

Watch the interview with Dr. Mark Pratt to learn:

  • Why the ability to quickly deploy updates in a cloud-environment is beneficial to rural & community healthcare organizations
  • The key question to ask before deploying AI in a healthcare organization
  • How Altera is incorporating AI into their Paragon solution

Learn more about Altera:

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Altera is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

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