EHRs, Meaningful Use, and Obamacare: Big Data Drives Big Traffic

The practicality of EHRs and meaningful use incentives will be hot topics at HIMSS, March 3-7, 2013, in New Orleans. That’s understandable given the political and economic climate we are experiencing and see on the horizon. There’s a sea change swelling in healthcare these days, driven by the Affordable Health Care Act and enabled by information technologies that promise to help make electronic health records advantageous for patients, healthcare professionals and hospitals.

But, as someone who eats, sleeps and breaths IT, I keep in mind nuances to EHRs that I think sometimes can be overshadowed by mandates and really cool technologies.

First, the data that “is” an EHR needs to be available to the right people, at the right time, at the right place — it needs to move. Second, EHRs are a large component of Big Data. The data volume created by EHRs will probably not be as large as what we will see generated by machine-to-machine telemetry flowing on the Internet of Things, but it is arguably more significant, because an EHR represents you or me. If the phrase “actionable information” ever had real importance, it’s in relation to your EHR.

The transport of EHRs causes what Level 3 calls Big Traffic, which puts greater and greater pressure on the networks connecting one healthcare facility to another, between data centers hosting Cloud deployments, and healthcare practitioners constantly mobile and dependent on the data and applications that they rely on. How much is Big Traffic increasing? We’ve created this infographic to make it easier to visualize. The data graphed was garnered from nearly 1,200 of our healthcare customers and clearly shows heavy growth in network traffic year-over-year.


We also recently commissioned a study of healthcare IT leaders to assess their priorities. One key finding is that 76 percent of respondents plan to upgrade their network infrastructure in the next two years to prepare for implementation of EHRs, increased interconnectivity of healthcare facilities, medical imaging demands and other healthcare-related technology advancements.

My team will be at HIMSS and we welcome your thoughts on these and all issues IT. Please let us know what you think.

For more information, visit or visit Level 3 at the upcoming HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition.

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The Level 3 Editor manages content for Level 3's Beyond Bandwidth blog.

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