New INFRAM Model Creates Healthcare Infrastructure Benchmarks

Posted on November 14, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

During the frenzy that was healthcare organizations rushing to implement EHRs and chase government money, it was amazing to see so many other projects get left behind. One of the biggest areas that got left behind was investments in IT infrastructure. All the budget was going to the EHR and so the infrastructure budgets often got cut. There were some exceptions where upgrades to infrastructure were needed to make the EHR work, but most organizations I know chose to limp along with their current infrastructure and used that money to pay for the EHR.

Given this background, I was quite intrigued by the recent announcement of HIMSS Analytic’s INFRAM (Infrastructure Adoption Model). This new model focuses on a healthcare organization’s infrastructure and whether it’s stable, manageable, and extensible. I like this idea since it’s part of the practical innovation we talk about in our IT Dev Ops category at the EXPO.health Conference. What we’ve found is that many healthcare organizations are looking for infrastructure innovations and the benefits are great.

The INFRAM model has 5 main focus areas:

  • Mobility
  • Security
  • Collaboration
  • Transport
  • Data Center

No doubt these are all areas of concern for any healthcare CIO. Although, I wonder if having all 5 of these in the same model is really the best choice. A healthcare organization might be at a level 6 for secruity, but only at a level 3 for mobility. Maybe that’s just fine for that organization. I guess at the core of this question is whether all of the capabilities of stage 7 are capabilities that are universally needed by all healthcare organizations.

I’m not sure the answer to this, but I think a case can be made that some organizations shouldn’t spend their limited resources to reach stage 7 of the INFRAM benchmark (or even stage 5 for some organizations). If a healthcare organization makes that a priority, it will probably force some purchases that aren’t really needed by the organization. That’s not a great model. If the above 5 focus areas had their own adoption models, then it would avoid some of these issues.

Much like the EMRAM model, the INFRAM model has 7 stages as follows:

STAGE 7
Adaptive And Flexible Network Control With Software Defined Networking; Home-Based Tele-Monitoring; Internet/TV On Demand

STAGE 6
Software Defined Network Automated Validation Of Experience; On-Premise Enterprise/Hybrid Cloud Application And Infrastructure Automation

STAGE 5
Video On Mobile Devices; Location-Based Messaging; Firewall With Advanced Malware Protection; Real-Time Scanning Of Hyperlinks In Email Messages

STAGE 4
Multiparty Video Capabilities; Wireless Coverage Throughout Most Premises; Active/Active High Availability; Remote Access VPN

STAGE 3
Advanced Intrusion Prevention System; Rack/Tower/Blade Server-Based Compute Architecture; End-To-End QoS; Defined Public And Private Cloud Strategy

STAGE 2
Intrusion Detection/Prevention; Informal Security Policy; Disparate Systems Centrally Managed By Multiple Network Management Systems

STAGE 1
Static Network Configurations; Fixed Switch Platform; Active/Standby Failover; LWAP-Only Single Wireless Controller; Ad-Hoc Local Storage Networking; No Data Center Automation

STAGE0
No VPN, Intrusion Detection/Prevention, Security Policy, Data Center Or Compute Architecture

As this new model was announced, I had a chance to talk with Marlon Harvey, Industry Solutions Group Healthcare Architect at Cisco, about the INFRAM model. It was interesting to hear the genesis of the model starting first as an infrastructure maturity model at Cisco and then evolving into the INFRAM model described above. Marlon shared that there had been about 21-24 assessments and 35 organizations involved in developing this maturity model. So, the model is still new, but has had some real world testing by organizations.

I do have some concern about the deep involvement from vendor companies in this model. On the one hand, they have a ton of expertise and experience in what’s out there and what’s possible. On the other hand, they’re definitely interested in pushing out more infrastructure sales. No doubt, HIMSS Analytics is in a challenging position to balance all of this.

That said, a healthcare CIO doesn’t have to be beholden to any model. They can use the model where it applies and leave it behind where it doesn’t. Sure, I love having models like INFRAM and EMRAM to create a goal and a framework for a healthcare organization. There’s real value in having goals and associated recognition as a way to bring a healthcare IT organization together. Plus, benchmarks like these are also beneficial to a CIO trying to convince their board to spend more money on needed infrastructure. So, there’s no doubt some value in good benchmarking and recognition for high achievement. I’ll be interested to see as more CIOs dive into the details if they find that INFRAM is focused on the things they really need to move their organization forward from an infrastructure perspective.