Hardware Emulation as a Way Forward for Legacy Systems in the Healthcare Industry

By Sarah Hoysa, marketing director, Myriam Khan, marketing director, and Dave Clements, head of Americas field engineering, Stromasys; exhibitors at the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™ at the 2018 HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition

Legacy systems are everywhere, including all over the healthcare space. They play integral roles in the day-to-day operations of hospitals and healthcare providers around the world, enabling staff to do their jobs efficiently and helping patients receive the best possible care.

The technology running behind the scenes in the healthcare industry is essential, but it comes with costs and risks. Aging hardware on these legacy systems presents risks of downtime and costly maintenance that can upset the healthcare ecosystem and impede high-quality patient care. Hospitals and healthcare providers can achieve business continuity by emulating their legacy hardware: safely and cost-effectively extending the life cycles of these mission-critical systems by keeping the legacy software but running it on a modern platform.

Legacy Systems in the Healthcare Industry

Companies still rely on mission-critical patient information applications running on their legacy systems. As time goes on, the maintenance costs for these systems go up and due to their age, reliability declines. Further, the hardware on which these systems run introduces risk to hospitals, not fitting within modern disaster recovery paradigms and putting the hospital in danger of losing private and essential patient records in the case of an outage or – more likely – downtime caused by hardware failure. Full migration is an expensive and risky proposition for these applications.

Did you know that, according to a study from IBM Global Technology Services, 83 percent of migrations experience problems? Further, a 2011 study by Bloor Research found that only 62 percent of data migration projects are completed on time and on budget. The redevelopment of these applications on modern hardware is expensive and data loss could be crippling.

Another option is hardware emulation: Replace aging hardware with a virtualized environment and move the software stack to increase performance, lower costs and reduce risks – quickly, safely and cost-effectively.

Why Hospitals and Healthcare Providers Wait to Emulate Legacy Hardware

  1. Nothing’s broken: The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality is often hard at work, but waiting to emulate legacy hardware until something breaks can be very expensive and replacement parts can be difficult to source. Have you considered what that downtime would cost you? Gartner estimates that the average large corporation experiences 87 hours of downtime per year and loses $42,000 for each of those hours. That’s more than $3.6 million. What would the costs be for your hospital or healthcare organization?
  2. It’s not a priority: Legacy systems aren’t necessarily the most glamorous systems. As healthcare continues to modernize on other fronts, these back-room systems can fall to the wayside. But shouldn’t mission-critical apps be a priority?
  3. Sounds expensive: Well, it isn’t free. But hardware emulation can be inexpensive compared to the high maintenance costs associated with end-of-life hardware platforms—and the initial investment is often made up within the first year following implementation of the emulated environment.
  4. It’s a temporary fix: While emulation can be a short-term solution before a full migration, it’s also the long-term solution for many customers. If your hospital uses a time-tested legacy app, it still has a long life ahead of it once you swap out the original hardware for a modern platform.
  5. What? Emulation?: It’s the cost-effective and low-risk alternative to buying spare parts for the legacy hardware online or moving to an entirely new platform, and it’s the choice of hospitals and healthcare providers around the world.

Protect Your Healthcare Ecosystem With Legacy Hardware Emulation

  • Mitigate risks associated with unplanned hardware downtime, including possible impact to high-quality patient care
  • Save on maintenance costs, enabling healthcare providers to direct additional funding to new and innovative medical advances
  • Reduce physical footprint required for legacy machines, opening up additional space for research, patient care and other initiatives
  • Improve the performance of systems that have slowed down over time by running the applications in a modern environment; do more for patients in the same amount of time
  • Keep time-tested critical applications running long into the future

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