Best Practices for Telehealth Networks

 Best Practices for Telehealth Networks

As more and more healthcare providers and systems across the country expand into telemedicine, CIOs and IT departments of healthcare organizations are quickly uncovering the complications that come with setting up a productive and successful telehealth network. How much bandwidth do you need? What equipment will you need? How will our workflow be affected? What are the best practices for IT departments when tackling a telemedicine network setup?

Let’s explore all these questions below in our latest blog post dedicated to best practices for setting up telehealth networks.

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Rural Health Telecom℠ | Who Are We & What Are We Here to Do?

 
Rural Health Telecom focuses solely on supplying quality telemedicine, telecommunications products and services to healthcare facilities in rural America. In fact, Rural Health Telecom is the industry leader in the continental United States. Since 1999 Rural Health has steadily grown by understanding that our ultimate goal is helping doctors and other healthcare providers serve their patients through the latest telecommunications technology.
 

REMINDER: Healthcare Connect Fund Training Coming this Fall

 

Healthcare providers, large and small, urban and rural, are all in need of telecom systems that can handle the huge data traffic created by telemedicine and Electronic Medical Records applications.  The federal government is doing its part to enhance healthcare capabilities by providing funding assistance through several programs.  The Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) is the latest offering from the FCC and administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). To help with learning the ropes of the HCF, training sessions will be held September 23-24, in Washington D.C.  Day one will focus on the application process for health care providers (HCPs) interested in applying to the HCF Program as individual HCPs, and will also provide basic information about participating as a member of a consortium.  Day two will instruct consortium leaders on the application process.

Click Here for Detailed information about the training seminar!

Register for the September 23rd Event!

Register for the September 24th Event!

 

 

RHT℠ HealthNet Delivering Big Bandwidth for Small Investment

 

Rural Health Telecom℠’s (RHT) HealthNet network product is powering healthcare provider tele-medicine applications all over the country.  From a two-location setup in California to a nearly 150-location complex network in Georgia, HealthNet offers cost-savings, unique redundancy capabilities and major bandwidth solutions to a healthcare provider’s operations. “What makes our network product a very viable solution for all Electronic Medical Records and telemedicine applications is that Rural Health Telecom℠ not only specially designs each network for the customer’s needs, but also can take advantage of all facets of connectivity available in the local area,” said Brandon Olds, Rural Health Telecom℠ senior engineer.  “While we might use one of the large carriers for basic service, we also look at including fiber, cable, wireless and satellite operators in the area of the facility to provide diverse connections.  That adds system speed, capacity and stability during emergencies.”

While a major network with multiple access options sounds like it might get expensive, Rural Health Telecom℠ has helped all of its customers obtain funding for these systems through the Universal Service Fund (USF).  The benefits of RHT’s nearly 14 years of experience with the USF accrues to customers in the form of being able to obtain the largest, fastest network for the fewest out-of-pocket dollars.

“The mega-carriers do not offer the system design and support we do.  We offer on-premise service assistance during installation as well as service and maintenance.  And we do this at no additional charge,” explained Tim Koxlien, RHT℠ CEO.  “We have the expertise to go above and beyond other network providers.  Quality customer care is who we are as a company.  Since Rural Health Telecom℠ is the only telecom company that exclusively serves the healthcare industry, we have a deeper understanding of the customer’s needs and that gives healthcare providers a great sense of comfort.”

 

The Four Biggest Telecom Hurdles Facing Healthcare Providers Today

 
Rural Health Telecom
Rural Health Telecom

The healthcare industry is counting on telemedicine technology to bring consulting doctors together in real time to help patients, even if those doctors are hundreds of miles apart. Like their urban counterparts, rural healthcare patients, physicians and technicians can reap the rewards from the evolving technology, but only if rural healthcare facilities are properly wired and managed to make telemedicine work as efficiently and effectively as those urban healthcare partners. With expanded federal funding available through the Universal Service Fund (USF), healthcare facilities have an opportunity to access:

  • State of the Art Telecommunications
  • Opportunities to Plan for Future Network Growth
  • Reliable Emergency Management for Disaster Recovery
  • Comprehensive, easy to Implement Maintenance Features

With USF dollars available, there is no reason for healthcare providers, either in hospitals or small clinics, to under-scope telecommunications networks. All healthcare providers can now have access to the same network quality, features and designs whether they are urban or rural. However, there are always hurdles to overcome on the road to innovation.

Cost-Effective Network Design

While there are many pieces to designing an effective telecommunications network, experienced companies know how to evaluate a healthcare facility’s current needs and make the right recommendations for the highest quality solution.

It is important to have your service provider:

  • Specify Bandwidth Capacity Available to Each Facility
  • Explain how a New Network Facilitates Telemedicine Applications
  • Outline Diverse Carrier Services to Ensure Maximum Reliability
  • Provide Various Modes of Service (Coax, Satellite, Copper, Fiber Optics)

Bandwidth

Here’s an amazing fact. In the year 2014, more data will be created than all of the previous year’s combined! And, the healthcare industry will be the single-largest contributor to that data creation. That trend is going to grow with exciting advances in telemedicine. Urban and rural healthcare providers, as the largest contributor to this data expansion, must be ready to handle that exponential jump in data.

Rural Health Telecom
Rural Health Telecom

Take a look at today’s healthcare telecommunications network infrastructure. Healthcare data networks have not decreased in scope, they’ve grown! This expansion in bandwidth is due to the increase in data generation over just the past few years. Remember when you used 16 slice MRI scanners? They are now 64 slice MRI scanners and growing! These advancements in technology will continue to expand the need for more bandwidth over time, and healthcare providers need to be prepared.

Here’s what to look for in smart system design:

  • Ease of bandwidth expansion - It is important to grow without having to “fork lift” the network. It is expensive and time consuming to make these changes, not to mention the interruption to your operations.
  • Expert data monitoring – You must ensure that the road your data is riding upon is not being congested with unwanted traffic. You don’t want to be worried about how long it takes to transmit your radiology image because others are using the system.
  • Maximum speed internet connections for reliable EMR, voice and video systems - If you are on a hosted EMR service, you rely upon a very fast connection to the public internet. Voice over IP services need room to effectively work. And, you can’t have your video streams stopping and starting. You should plan for these needs and then double it.

Disaster Recovery

With new regulations requiring our nation’s healthcare providers to use electronic medical records, the reliance upon a network that is up and working at “all times” is imperative. Not only is it important to keep the business side of the facility operating, issues related to effective patient care, access to clinical data and more have now become the cornerstone of the viability of the facility. By using today’s technology options for storing records and remote system operations, administrators, doctors and patients can have the peace of mind knowing that all important information is safe and secure, even in the face of a natural disaster.

You should have your supplier specify:

  • An Option for Cloud Computing & Data Service
  • Design & Recommendations on Network Connectivity Redundancy
  • A Hardware System allowing Facility Personnel to make System Repairs without an IT Expert
Male Doctor Using Digital Tablet In Clinic
Male Doctor Using Digital Tablet In Clinic

Customer Care

Telecommunications network services are no different to support than many of the medical devices needed to provide care. Simple and easy, one-source customer care is vital to your facility’s operations, especially in rural America where access to this support infrastructure is significantly lacking.

Your telecommunications supplier should outline:

  • Their Managed Support Services, Including how they Support 24/7 Emergency Response
  • How they will Inventory & Catalogue Equipment to Facilitate Repairs
  • How they will Interface with your IT Staff to assist with Internal AND External Service Issues
  • Their Capabilities to Provide Customized Billing

Access to these enhanced telecommunications technologies are now much more affordable for all healthcare providers. You can be on the leading edge of telemedicine by maximizing your access to federal dollars. That funding also allows you to work with a quality telecommunications carrier that can help you design, install and maintain your system. After all, your doctors, medical technicians and especially your patients deserve the best care you can give them.