May 29 2018

How to Build a Robust Foundation for Patient Engagement Tech

Site surveys can help healthcare organizations figure out how to shore up their networks to handle periods of increased traffic.

While next-generation point-of-care engagement technologies are key to improving patient outcomes and satisfaction, the success of such tools hinges directly on a healthcare facility’s supporting infrastructure. From network solutions and access points to storage technology, providers must ensure that a proper foundation is in place to handle the demands imposed by both patient engagement and clinical initiatives.

With the number of patient engagement and clinical mobility devices growing exponentially, a healthcare organization’s wireless infrastructure must be able to support and scale with growing demands. Every new wireless solution added increases the strain on existing network resources.

What’s more, growing data traffic from mobile devices can slow down or even block connectivity, disrupting critical daily workflow. To anticipate and meet increased network demands, many organizations will conduct site surveys that help determine not only where to place APs, but also how to handle periods of increased traffic, pinpoint traffic bottlenecks and understand how to improve the overall network infrastructure for long-term stability.

Recommendations for a Successful Healthcare Site Survey

Key points to consider when conducting a site survey include:

  • Discovering and understanding current network connection and performance issues, as well as their impact on end users
  • Building out enough bandwidth for anticipated traffic needs
  • Examining the host facility’s size and layout, as well as the construction materials used in exterior and interior walls (wireless signals can be degraded or blocked by brick or masonry walls, requiring the need for additional wireless APs)
  • Strategically positioning APs in locations that will maximize signal strength
  • Uncovering and eliminating single points of failure (components that, upon failure, will bring down the entire network) and ensuring that rapid-convergence architectures and technologies are used across the network
  • Specifying the technologies that will be used to maximize uptime for mission-critical applications, such as EHRs, image archiving and biomedical devices
  • Selecting compatible endpoint devices

After completion of the site survey, it’s time to consider how to approach network monitoring. Given the critical nature of healthcare services, it is essential for organizations to deploy an efficient and reliable monitoring solution that ensures data protection, maximum performance, immediate responsiveness and network continuity.

A high-quality network monitoring solution also offers the ability to:

  • Improve overall network reliability
  • Assist with capacity planning
  • Track activity trends across the network
  • View the full network topology
  • Streamline the troubleshooting process should issues arise

Intelligent alerting, a feature found in most high-end network monitoring solutions, ensures that key employees, including network administrators and IT staff members, are immediately notified in the event anything suspicious or out of the ordinary is discovered on the network. Intelligent alerts give organizations the opportunity to respond to and mitigate any harmful tasks being carried out before they can inflict damage to the network and network-connected resources.

Security: A Never-Ending Mission for Healthcare Organizations

To fully secure protected health information and other types of confidential data carried over hospital networks, it’s important to deploy an advanced security architecture that can provide a strong foundation for meeting healthcare industry security specifications such as HIPAA.

Maintaining strong security is a never-ending mission. Both mobile and fixed systems are prone to many different types of attacks. Therefore, it’s vital to keep system upgrades and patches up to date.

Healthcare organizations must also routinely monitor systems and mobile devices used by patients and staff. Fixed systems, such as PCs and servers, should be routinely and securely backed up to prepare for ransomware attacks and system outages. For smartphones and tablets, enterprise mobility management systems are critical for keeping track of end-user activity.

Hospitals and health systems are well acquainted with the need to plan for and systemically cope with sudden medical emergencies. However, the same should hold true for IT-related crises. An effective disaster recovery plan, therefore, should focus not only on maintaining or rapidly restoring electronic access to medical and billing records, but also on outlining strategies and procedures for bringing patient, clinical and business services back online as soon as possible.

Additionally, when training employees for disaster recovery initiatives, it’s a good idea for healthcare organizations to prepare for worst-case scenarios that include the loss of power, communication, network services and other vital resources. By taking this step, providers can help to ensure that team members are able to perform work roles to the best of their abilities, even if they don’t have access to the usual support services that are considered essential to quality patient care.

To learn more download our white paper "Next-Generation Patient Engagement Technology Enhances Patient Outcomes."

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