An infrastructure prescription for transformation


By Sanjiv Verma, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Ruckus Networks, CommScope
Friday, 17 June, 2022


An infrastructure prescription for transformation

Healthcare digital transformation and innovation have become essential in providing patients with convenient access to timely medical care.

More than ever, hospitals and other organisations in the healthcare ecosystem depend on network infrastructure to ensure that information flows freely, accurately and reliably. While the bulk of healthcare data traffic generated by IT devices flows through the cloud, confidential patient data must be properly handled and secured in compliance with regulatory requirements. Data security and privacy is a critical challenge.

Few commercial spaces can even approach the type of data processing needs of a modern healthcare institution or hospital. The fast and dependable movement of information is mission critical, physical and data security must both meet strict regulatory standards, widely distributed staff and patients require far-reaching connectivity, and both inventory and equipment must be closely managed.

Additionally, the value of the Internet of Medical Things market globally is set to hit US$158 billion this year. The growth of health-focused Internet of Things (IoT) devices and wearables, the increasing healthcare data breaches, and the adoption of telemedicine, clinical informatics and mobile initiatives have led healthcare institutions to invest in modernising infrastructure.

The healthcare industry is changing fast, driven by new technology and patient expectations. Here are three key areas public and private healthcare organisations need to consider when accelerating their own transformation and innovation.

Patient safety, data security in digitalised health care

Modern healthcare networks are under growing pressure to meet increasing demand for telemedicine. Accelerating healthcare digitalisation has placed the spotlight on patient safety and staff security as well as data security and privacy.

Leveraging healthcare data and ensuring data privacy and regulatory compliance are imperative factors in reliable healthcare delivery. Actionable insights are derived from data gathered through mobile health applications and wearables to improve patient care. They help care teams promote clinical best practices.

Apart from data centres hosting confidential patient and medical data, patient care is governed by regulations, and lives rely on the network. This makes standards-compliant connectivity — from the server room to emergency room, from nursery to the nurse’s station — critical.

Infrastructure security must prevent unauthorised access by an unauthorised person. It should also detect and repel unauthorised access by an authorised person by tracking all changes to the physical layer in real time.

IT–operations technology synergies for smart, efficient health care

Modern healthcare organisations rely on free and timely information flows for efficient operations. Faced with mounting pressure to do more with less resources, healthcare operations require solutions that help optimise operational expenditure (OpEx) as key systems become more connected and more capable.

With this aim in mind, IT and operations technology teams can develop shared avenues of efficiency to attain the industry’s ultimate metric of success — improved patient outcomes and patient experience. The healthcare industry has a continuing commitment to provide affordable, high-quality care to a growing number of patients while lowering operational costs in the process.

IT infrastructure plays a big role in streamlining operations. Sharing a common physical network unlocks the potential for more efficient network administration and facilities operations.

Working together on a converged network, IT and operations technology teams are leveraging IoT capabilities that have led to exponential growth in the number of wired and wireless network devices as well as requirements for PoE.

For example, Wi-Fi 6/6E is connecting smart beds, oxygen monitoring devices and real-time access to X-rays, among other staff alert and patient monitoring applications. IoT adoption has also gained traction in lighting, HVAC, physical security, asset tracking, smart parking, smart locks and security cameras. These real-world IoT deployments operate on a complex and costly array of network protocols, equipment and disparate management tools.

Patient experience at the heart of healthcare future

Health care is transforming, with patient experience at the heart of everything from patient care delivery to personalised health care. Adoption of digital technologies helps to improve remote patient monitoring and care delivery to achieve the best possible outcomes. Meanwhile, monitoring and control of patient experience, staff productivity, recruitment and inventory can be vastly enhanced with simpler and automated processes.

The bottom line is that healthcare organisations need to strike a smart balance between operational efficiency and patient experiences while supporting next-generation services like telemedicine and virtual ICU centres. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics provides insights that improve patient care while reducing healthcare costs.

According to an Accenture report, 84% of healthcare executives believe that AI will fundamentally alter how healthcare providers gain information from patients and interact with consumers. For example, AI tools analysing data from personal health devices, IoT solutions, DNA testing, genome sequencing, electronic medical records and more help clinicians to personalise treatments and experiences for the individual patient.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/tippapatt

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