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Apr 08 2019

IoT, clinician devices, bedside telemetry, distributed sites: Ready to manage it all as one?

Why centralized network management is essential for the delivery of real-time healthcare. 

Digital Transformation is taking place rapidly in the healthcare industry. Providers want to harness the potential of all sorts of innovation to deliver an unrivaled patient experience, greater operating efficiencies, and better healthcare outcomes.

The potential of digitization in healthcare is well understood, but with the introduction of more and more digital processes and virtualized end-points connecting to the IT infrastructure, it is critical that IT administrators increase their network visibility and control to ensure that all tools connect correctly and securely. After all, healthcare organizations depend on their networks to deliver patient information quickly and support critical procedures in real-time. If the network is overloaded or communication is delayed, patients may not receive the care that they need.

Advancements in Electronic Health Records (EHR), telemedicine, IoT, wearables, robots – you name it, the modern healthcare system IT infrastructure needs to be able to handle it. Cloud architectures and network automation are the secrets to success, delivering scale on demand and automatically prioritizing the most critical workloads and processes. For digital services to thrive, the IT infrastructure needs to become dynamic and virtualized.

The end of silos and start of adaptive, aware and patient-centric services.

Many healthcare systems have isolated legacy networks that need to be individually maintained. These networks are not virtualized or dynamic enough to scale or prioritize traffic based on the healthcare organization’s changing needs.

Software-defined networking (SDN) can help to solve these issues, providing the centralized management, policy-based automation and on-demand service delivery needed to support real-time healthcare which is more adaptive, aware and patient-centric. The network needs to be capable of understanding and controlling each medical application to maximize network resources and assure SLAs for these critical services. For example, the difference in criticality between a doctor seeing a patient record during a routine exam and a doctor viewing a vital image in an emergency room must be understood and prioritized by the network. Delivering this level of insight and control is why automating the data center network with SDN and the wide-area networking with SD-WAN is essential — helping the network adapt to meet changing conditions and demands within the healthcare organization it serves.

SDN decouples network control from data forwarding functions, abstracting the underlying network infrastructure from applications and services and making the network programmable with centralized network control. With additional automation, SDN also creates opportunities for policy-driven supervision which allows IT administrators to operate network services through a centralized policy framework. This management reduces delays and the potential for errors while increasing scale and security. IT admins can quickly and easily adjust policies and put them into action, significantly easing management burdens, efficiency, and cost.

SD-WAN gives healthcare systems more control of their wide area network, particularly when connecting smaller sites such as clinics or exciting new digital capabilities such as remote radiologists working from home. SD-WANs build a virtual network on top of physical networks and services, connecting legacy network islands. A central policy manager defines, deploys, and enforces overall network functions and advanced services, including network security. Network edge functions, such as firewall, encryption, DNS and DHCP, are implemented in software. Compared to traditional WAN services, SD-WAN is a more agile, flexible, and scalable way to connect small healthcare sites and clinics to the private WAN. With zero-touch installation and centralized policy-based configuration, management, and control, SD-WAN ensures fast adds, moves, and changes while eliminating the need for site visits.

Sounds good? Then why not visit, Nokia Healthcare to learn more about how we can help get your IT infrastructure ready for real-time care delivery.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #digitalhealthcare #realtimehealthcare

About Cindy Bergevin

Cindy leads enterprise healthcare marketing at Nokia where she reaches out to healthcare systems around the world to help them with their digital transformations in order to become real-time healthcare systems. Tweet @CindyBergevin