The healthcare industry has gone through rapid transformation in the past two decades. The introduction of computers, the Internet and digital data into the healthcare sphere has forever transformed the way healthcare organizations are managed and run. Paper records are now electronic. Data is now stored on the Cloud. Interoperability between systems is growing. Computers, tablets, mobile devices, medical devices and printers are all inter-connected on the local area network (LAN) and critical to delivering patient care. All of these devices, combined with the telecommunications technology, host all of the data that makes healthcare organizations function, run and effectively serve the needs of patients. The LAN is the heart of healthcare communications infrastructure; therefore, it is critical that it’s being proactively managed, monitored, supported and secured. In this blog post, we’ll tackle why the first two- managing and monitoring- are so vital to the health of your IT network.
Healthcare IT networks are larger and more complex than ever before. From classical IT infrastructure to state-of-the-art networks supporting electronic health records (EHR), medical equipment, practice management systems, interoperable systems and more, the size of healthcare IT networks presents a greater need for oversight. If these networks aren’t properly monitored and managed at the executive or administrative level, the costs can be severe, from damaging the quality of patient care to potentially causing harm to the patients themselves. The risks are far too great for healthcare providers to take a chance on; therefore, it is critical that monitoring of the network should be a top priority for health IT departments.
In the healthcare industry, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Health IT departments cannot afford to be notified of errors or outages as they are occurring- they need to know about these potential situations ahead of time in order to prevent them from occurring. This can only happen with a proactive approach with real-time network management. The focus is on elimination of problems before they have a chance to appear and cause disruptions, and identifying possible issues before they affect business continuity and before users start complaining. Network monitoring software doesn’t just monitor up/down status of the network, it can report on the entire health and well-being of your LAN. Triggers and thresholds can be set to alert IT when the network deviates from its established norm.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that monitoring and management software are only as good as the people ready to review the reports, interpret the data and make effective decisions to improve areas of weakness. Health IT departments must ensure time and resources are dedicated to reviewing the data on a consistent basis to improve processes and performance.
Cost/Loss Model Analysis
While a decrease in patient care is certainly one effect of reactionary monitoring and management, there are real financial implications as well that can hurt your healthcare’s bottom line. Using the cost/loss model, it is important to evaluate and understand what it will cost your organization if you choose to not take proactive action. Do you know the full cost of just one incident of lost or compromised data, a data breach, your network going down, etc. For example, planned data center downtime costs average $7,900 a minute. Unplanned data center downtime cost organizations $627,418 per incident in 2013, according to a Ponemon survey. Another report found that EHR downtime can be costly too; in fact, the actual cost to the average healthcare provider equates to almost $488 per hour per physician. All of these scenarios not only cause your organization to lose revenue but to damage your organization’s brand, reputation and intellectual property. Can you really afford to take that risk? Investing now in preventative monitoring and assessments will save your organization exponentially in the long run.
We monitor our bodies to proactively and preventatively to maintain health. The entire industry is moving toward a values-based, preventative approach instead of reactionary. Why should we treat our IT systems any differently?
Another huge component to managing and monitoring your LAN is ensuring you have a centrally managed antivirus solution installed and running. Managed antivirus solutions ensure the same level of security across all systems, safeguarding them with antivirus staying up-to-date on all computers. A/V can be extremely time-consuming, especially when dealing with malicious programs or other events. This becomes an efficient and effective response when experts that are working on virus removal all the time are managing the process. While A/V is fundamental to implementing a successful and efficient telehealth network, many health IT departments will not have the time or resources to deal with the continuous management needed.
In TeleQuality’s experience, we have seen that comprehensively monitoring and overseeing a healthcare network proves too time-consuming a task for limited health IT staffs if the network is not backed up by a scalable solution that expedites and facilitates the process. That’s why we developed TeleQuality’s Computer Network Solutions (CNS) product line, a comprehensive, enterprise-level network package that monitors, manages, supports and secures healthcare networks. Our system has been designed to access the IT DNA of the network’s working infrastructure while providing real-time monitoring and reports that will expand control and understanding of the network while increasing productivity and efficiencies.