Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 14, 2015

Prescribing Network Solutions for Today's Healthcare Systems

To say that today's healthcare systems are in a period of rapid evolution might be a bit of an understatement - 'frantic rush forward' might be more descriptive. Healthcare systems have seen a rapid adoption of new technologies over the last few years, in every area ranging from on-site systems to cloud-based services to mobile technologies. And this is all for good reason - the tools now being introduced to the market give healthcare professionals the ability to gain more insight into their patient's condition, do research, and track progress better than ever before.

New Requirements = Greater Network Demands

What this all means for the network administrators of those healthcare systems is that they're being tasked to support more applications and data than ever before, and the requirements placed on their networks are only going to increase. Just some of the areas where new healthcare applications are placing new demands on healthcare IT networks include:

  • Be Prepared for New Applications and even Markets: As the healthcare industry embraces new technologies, it opens the door to new applications and industries. Take, for example, the concept of e-prescribing. This technology, while still being fairly new, is on track to be nearly a billion-dollar business by 2019. But applications like e-prescribing place requirements on networks, and involve the use of electronic healthcare records, etc., which in turn introduces requirements for encryption and security.

  • Remote Telemedicine will only Grow:  Telemedicine is one of those applications that's been around as a concept for some time, but has only recently become truly effective, due largely to the development of new software and the spread of broadband and mobile networks. Through telemedicine, doctors can examine and diagnose patients in remote clinics and rural areas, providing medical services to those who might otherwise have to travel or not receive such care at all. However, as with other remote medical services, telemedicine places strong bandwidth and security demands on the network. 

  • Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Data Usage will Continue to Increase:  As more healthcare applications come online, the transmission of healthcare data will only continue to grow as well. After all, these applications, at their core, are concerned with patients and their individual cases. This means that, as more applications are developed to help those patients, those applications will need to 'see' patient data. What's more, those applications will also likely create more data on their own. 

Keeping Up With Demand

With that in mind, let's look at some strategies that network administrators can use to keep up with the demands of the new healthcare IT landscape:

  • Embrace Different Types of Networks: Where once network administrators could rely on fixed network topologies composed of a single large MPLS network throughout their system, they're now finding that homogenous WAN (Wide Area Network) architectures don't necessarily scale to meet the requirements of the system. As smaller clinics begin to use more advanced applications and access more data, their bandwidth requirements outpace the traditional network. Alternatively, healthcare IT network teams are finding that approaches that leverage combination of network types, including broadband, can provide the bandwidth required by those remote locations, while maintaining a level of availability to support business operations with a low cost structure. 

  • Leverage Network Resources Intelligently: In order to take advantage of the cost savings and potential benefits of broadband networks, network administrators should explore technologies that allow them to leverage those networks in a way that provides both scalability and resilience. Through the use of broadband bonding, for example, network administrators can bond individual broadband circuits, which provides both increased bandwidth, and the capability for the network to remain up even in a single circuit fails. 

  • Increase Your View into the Network: Healthcare IT networks, like the networks of any organization, are often impacted by changes to the organization's application architecture, and of which they weren't even aware. Sometimes changes are dynamic and even change within the same day. The ability to detect and react to changes in network traffic in real-time and dynamically is critical, not only from the perspective of network management, but security as well. WAN orchestration approaches, whereby broadband resources are dynamically managed and orchestrated will play a crucial role in creating adaptive and agile networks that are required for healthcare IT applications.

The key to managing networks in this new era healthcare IT is to maintain a flexible architecture where new applications can be supported and data can be shared between locations. To enact such architecture, network administrators will need to look at cost-effective and rapidly-provisioned network resources. And in order to manage those networks to the level that will be required to support modern healthcare, network

Dr. Cahit Jay Akin

architects will need to embrace network devices specifically designed to take advantage of, and realize value from, a whole new set of network resources. 

Dr. Cahit Jay Akin is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Mushroom Networks, a privately held company based in San Diego, CA, providing broadband products and solutions for a range of Internet applications. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
By TMCnet Special Guest
Dr. Cahit Jay Akin, co-founder and chief executive officer of Mushroom Networks ,

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