Understanding AIOps, and its Use in Healthcare

As the technological landscape expands within hospital settings, the manual oversight of system performance becomes increasingly arduous for IT teams. AI for IT operations is poised to revolutionise the identification of issues, the proposition of remedies, and the enhancement of overall performance.


In a bygone era characterised by healthcare IT infrastructure confined to server closets, the vigilance over system performance, accessibility, and security posed little challenge. However, amidst the proliferation of Software-as-a-Service tools and within an industry obligated to uphold consumer data rights, the landscape has evolved into one of complexity and nuance.


Previously, a simple power down and reboot sufficed. Yet, with the ever-increasing complexity of systems, the volume of data to be gathered, processed, and analysed expands exponentially. Augmenting human capabilities is imperative to sustain operational continuity.


The surge in workload volume and intricacy has resulted in an avalanche of noise, making it progressively intricate to discern genuine signals from the cacophony. In a needle-in-a-haystack scenario, manual separation becomes implausible.


Herein steps Artificial Intelligence for IT operations, or AIOps, as an indispensable ally. Automated scrutiny of systems and applications empowers IT teams to decipher unfolding events and execute a coordinated response. Advanced iterations are engineered to preemptively forecast bottlenecks or security breaches, thus mitigating potential disruptions proactively.


AIOps vs. Observability

Distinguishing between AIOps and Observability unveils the evolutionary trajectory in comprehending software system dynamics for numerous organisations. Observability entails gaining profound insights into system performance and leveraging data extracted from logs, performance metrics, and traces.


Observability's pivotal advantages are underscored, elucidating its capacity to curtail downtime costs and fortify digital resilience. Put plainly, IT teams wield the capability to swiftly identify and rectify issues.


AIOps transcends this paradigm by infusing intelligence into data, discerning patterns within performance metrics. Is a surge in traffic directed at a solitary web server indicative of a cyber onslaught or a surge in patients scheduling vaccinations? Is the 1 a.m. backup attempt part of the routine weekly task or the machination of an unauthorised user wielding pilfered credentials?


No ecosystem operates in isolation. Interconnections abound between web applications, websites, and databases. It's imperative to discern the interplay of logs and events across workloads. It transcends the mere identification of anomalies. Understanding the underlying causes behind deviations is paramount. This is where AIOps assume a more proactive role.


The AIOps Landscape: Domain-Agnostic vs. Domain-Centric Approaches

When navigating the realm of AIOps, the efficacy of assistance often hinges on the chosen flavour, delineating between domain-agnostic and domain-centric approaches.


A domain-agnostic strategy entails synthesising data from diverse origins to tackle issues spanning multiple operational domains, encompassing networking, storage, and security. While offering a panoramic vista of overall performance, these tools may lack the precision requisite for addressing specific pain points, use cases, or industry exigencies.


Conversely, a domain-centric tool is laser-focused on a specific domain, be it an IT ecosystem or a vertical industry. Although it doesn't traverse the entirety of the IT landscape, its AI models for detection and analysis are finely honed on datasets germane to that domain.


When employing a domain-centric tool to scrutinise a network for bottleneck causes, its models boast a nuanced comprehension of prevalent network protocols and patterns. It adeptly discerns between a distributed denial-of-service attack and a mere misconfiguration, thanks to its specialised training.


Guidelines for Responsible Deployment of AIOps


Fortify with Robust Data Sets: Lay the foundation with comprehensive and high-quality data sets, empowering AI models with a rich reservoir of information.


Transparency is Key: Embrace models characterised by transparency and imbued with a high fairness coefficient, fostering trust and ethical integrity in decision-making processes.


Human Oversight: Enlist the presence of a human in the loop to validate the outputs of AI models, ensuring accuracy and mitigating potential biases or errors.


Facilitate Seamless Integration: Foster a natural transition for IT teams as they embrace AIOps tools, facilitating adaptation and maximising efficacy in operational workflows.


AIOps in Healthcare - Enhancing Response and Reporting

AIOps in healthcare delivers immediate insights into the performance of critical clinical applications, ensuring they remain operational, accessible, and optimised. This extends to the underlying infrastructure supporting these pivotal applications.


Armed with such insights, IT teams are empowered to enact timely interventions. Effective AIOps solutions excel in analysing events and discerning patterns, aiding in the identification of interrelated issues, Lin elaborates.


This marks a significant departure from past practices, where organisations convened IT and security leaders in arduous "war room" sessions, often during unconventional hours, to sift through the chaos. A substantial aspect of AIOps lies in illuminating deviations from the norm, enabling proactive responses.


Furthermore, AIOps is adept at evaluating situations and recommending the appropriate level of incident response. This encompasses everything from seemingly routine help desk tickets to the cascade of alerts inundating IT staff during overnight shifts.


Questions such as how many systems are affected, the nature of the vulnerability, potential impact scope, and who needs to be notified immediately versus later are precisely the kind that AIOps can address for IT personnel. This decision support mechanism not only offers guidance but also instils confidence in junior staff members who may be grappling with their first serious incident response.


Moreover, two additional benefits are provided by AIOps tools. 


Firstly, they maintain an ongoing log of incidents and responses, facilitating compliance reporting through an audit trail.


Secondly, they excel in identifying and even predicting system vulnerabilities, such as outdated operating systems running on ubiquitous medical devices. Given the immense workload volume in typical hospital settings, manually tracking such vulnerabilities is arduous, if not impossible.


The Evolution of AIOps in Healthcare: Enhancing Business Operations

The future of AIOps in healthcare extends beyond IT, aiming to enhance overall business operations through data-driven insights. The next frontier involves applying AIOps beyond traditional IT realms.


An illustrative case within hospitals is optimising emergency department throughput. AIOps tools possess the capability to identify instances where the ED isn't efficiently processing patients. Factors such as time of day, week, or month, as well as specific patient demographics, could influence throughput performance.


AIOps serves as a sentinel, alerting stakeholders when performance deviates from expected standards. A substantial portion of the data collected pertains to both business and patient outcomes.