The Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries today - thanks to the increased consciousness to seek a healthy living and the ease of access to excellent medical care. With such unprecedented surge in demand for medical care, health care institutions cannot but seek a strong and robust IT system across their setting to manage efficiently. In fact today the IT department is as common as a radiology department in most hospitals. Hospitals rely on IT system, and Computer networks to manage the entire patient treatment cycle - from admission to discharge, to the extent that they have come to view the IT department as a value-enhancer, away from the “The cost-centre” that they were once considered to be.
A question of Life
When it comes to Healthcare, Computer Networks could mean the difference between life and death. With more and more hospitals joining the electronic bandwagon, Patient Medical Histories get stored as Electronic Medical Records everywhere. The availability of reliable and accurate data as and when required determines the quality of the treatment extended to the patient.
The Healthcare Institution of today
Healthcare institutions come in all sizes - from the basic only-outpatient-treatment-centre down the road to the large Medical centre in Universities to the very large community healthcare centres. What is common to them is the strong IT system that each has in place and the much stronger strict federal laws that each is governed by - only that in the case of the large and very large centres the law is more pronounced and the fallouts of not complying with the laws could mean damaging ramifications. The IT spending by Healthcare Institutions today is like never before. This is mainly on account of the need to manage the health related information of numerous patients and their medical histories. The other reason for IT proliferation is the interest in leveraging the treatment given. Also with Telemedicine catching up in a big way, thanks to Information and Communication technologies, medical treatment becomes possible without constraints of time and distance from anywhere
The flip-side to this overarching reliance on IT is that even the slightest glitch in the IT systems could adversely impact their operations. Add to it the federal laws like HIPAA that seek intense scrutiny of the IT system security and patient data integrity, and the job of the IT System⁄ Network manager becomes all the more challenging
A case in Point
Consider the case of a Large Community Medical System that has 5000 employees, has 60 distinct business units. To achieve high levels of service delivery and efficiency the medical center deploys a sophisticated Healthcare Information system(HIS) that spans its entire campus. A sophisticated Healthcare Information system to automate the whole process flow.
- the Capability to digitise patient records in the form of a sound picture archiving system (PACS)
- A High speed bandwidth line connecting its entire campus
- Voice Over IP Systems to enable easy and cost effective communication
- Access to wireless internet access anywhere in the campus through access points
This HIS has the ability to store electronic medical records of patients and facilitate quick reference to the patient health status to authorised(prieveleged )physicians This apart it also has a strong Picture Archiving system (PACS) to electronically store patient image records. To support the access to HIS and PACS from anywhere the medical center has a high bandwidth network across its campus. This in turn facilitates Voice - Over - Ip communications, Access to wireless internet access from anywhere in the campus.
A network disaster namely:
- Failure of a network element that goes unnoticed
- Loss of access to the IT application (HIS)
- Non-availability of enough bandwidth for healthcare related activities
- Unauthorised intrusion in to the network and virus attacks
could spell disaster to the medical system. Hence it needs a monitoring tool that helps it take proactive actions and troubleshoot fast in case of any network outages.
The NetFlow Analyzer as a tool to monitor the network
Cisco NetFlow Technology makes it possible to unravel various vital information about your network health with no additional investment. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer, by harnessing the NetFlow data export from Cisco Routers and switches analyses and reports on vital parameters like who the top talkers are, which applications are consuming the maximum bandwidth, whether there has been any network attack⁄unscrupulous access attempts, etc.
Armed with this information and with provisions to be proactively alerted upon any threshold violations, you can stay relaxed when it comes to your healthcare network. You bet!