Hospital undergoes digital transformation with network fabric integration

Extreme Networks Australia

By Julian Critchlow, General Manager, Extreme Networks Australia and New Zealand
Friday, 27 March, 2020

Hospital undergoes digital transformation with network fabric integration

Sydney Adventist Hospital (SAH) — known as ‘the San’ — is an acute-care private hospital with capacity for 550 licensed overnight beds. It is the largest private and the largest not-for-profit hospital in NSW, Australia.

The San has been undergoing a transformation to become a true digital hospital. With a small team to manage its infrastructure, the San needed to have visibility and control of every element of the environment. Every IP-enabled device is on the one network, including systems such as CCTV and BMS controllers. In addition, no point solutions are implemented that might create organisational or operational barriers: every solution deployed at the San needs to be monitored and managed centrally by the San’s own IS team, with any issues able to be diagnosed and quarantined quickly to avoid wider impact on those critical services running the hospital. The facility called for a responsive, reliable, robust network infrastructure with automated and secure rapid device provisioning and a network able to support mobile and highly virtualised workloads.

Moving away from VLANs and using Extreme Fabric Connect, the San’s network has transformed, enabling faster delivery of new applications and services.

An advantage of Extreme Fabric Connect is automated service provisioning. The San’s network administrator no longer needs to physically program every point across the network — it’s faster, more accurate and less error prone to provision at the edge of the network. The platform also offers the ability to isolate and separate services; for example, an administrator can easily isolate all the blood pumps in their own environment, which cannot be achieved with VLAN alone.

“A key requirement was that our network had to support an intensely integrated environment to ensure continuity of core services,” San Head of IS Operations and Infrastructure Barbara MacKenzie said.

“As a digital hospital, our data is absolutely critical to patient care, so everything has to work 100% of the time. In a hospital environment it has to be business as usual 24 x 7 x 365, so there are no maintenance windows and there can be no downtime on the network and core services.”

The hospital is using zero client terminals in the wards for its clinical workforce, with RFID single sign-on tap-in for login access, ensuring no sensitive patient data is ever stored on these devices. With a lot of accredited medical officers (AMOs) and specialists visiting and working in the hospital, the network has also enabled BYOD, allowing these practitioners to access the information they need at the bedside, or anywhere on campus.

The San has extended its SanCare electronic medical record (EMR) by developing its own native mobile clinical app — SanCare Mobile — for its doctors and other staff to use.

A ‘mobile first’ strategy is also being rolled out for nurses so that they can access and enter patient observations and other assessments at the bedside with the SanCare app on a smartphone device.

“Nurses can take a photo of a patient’s wound and send it straight through to the patient’s record. The progress notes from doctors, nurses and other carers are all instantly available, and we’re constantly adding more and more functionality for the full EMR to be extended by the mobile app,” MacKenzie explained.

“The feedback from doctors has been overwhelmingly positive. Over a 48-hour period, 200 doctors typically use the mobile app. There are many anecdotes such as the doctor waking in the morning and being worried about one of her patients, so before she even got out of bed she just opened the app and checked on what had happened overnight.”

The San’s goal is to extend its mobile capabilities for greater data input and access directly at the patient’s bedside and to connect more of its biomedical and monitoring devices via the network, so that this data can be fed back into each patient’s record in the EMR and be instantly available to doctors. Increasingly, the San is rolling out biomedical systems and wireless-based devices that are connected via the network and feeding data on each patient back into the EMR system. This has already been completed in the ICU, the birthing suites and for the hospital’s ECGs.

“The nirvana is for all of our patient monitoring platforms to be feeding straight into our EMR,” MacKenzie said.

To achieve this, the San’s wireless network upgrade is underway to factor for the greater number of wireless devices it will be able to connect and manage across the hospital’s campus.

Image credit: ©

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