Networking Is Key to Healthcare Communication
With local area network speeds reaching up to 10/100 gigabits per second and over 400Gbps in the data center, the IT industry has long evolved from the 10-megabit-per-second connections that would be too slow to support the size of modern-day digitized files. Many clinical diagnostics have gone digital, and that means easier sharing capability. Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) are an example of this. With more data generated and shared, whether by clinicians or patients, networks need to be increasingly robust, scalable, resilient, fault-tolerant and secure.
Digital communications were once limited to emails, text messages or alerts from routers or email servers. With the advent of PACS, telemetry waveforms, EHRs, cloud-based storage portals, private blockchain and other network-based security tools, healthcare is generating far more data than any other industry.
Even with the advent of newer technologies, devices such as video cameras have also evolved to support a greater number of use cases than simple on-premises security. The number of use cases supporting video streaming in real time include centrally managed patient monitoring, in which fall reduction programs are implemented; surgical monitoring for teaching or collaborative operative care; safety programs that guard against baby abduction risk and support Alzheimer’s patient containment; and monitoring of drug dispensing areas.
Clinical compliance and efficacy can also be monitored. For example, handwashing, personal protective equipment use and patient treatment protocols can be monitored using real-time video for optimal risk reduction practices or collaborative efforts — all of which require an increasing amount of network bandwidth as well as a simple way to manage it all securely.
Smart Hospital Strategy Ensures Network Security
Any network-bound device is at risk of being targeted by ransomware. Today, there are a few options for integrating anti-ransomware software within a smart network interface card, or SmartNIC, which helps redirect and block threats. Data processing units on SmartNICs are taking CPU burdens and processing packet inspections at wire speed.
In a smart hospital strategy, there seems to be no limit to the number of devices possible, whether wireless or wired. And with new technology manufacturers wanting to jump on the smart hospital bandwagon, the number of devices on an organization’s network will continue to grow. It’s no wonder healthcare facilities are the second-most energy-intensive operations after food stores, and healthcare executives are constantly looking for ways to reduce operational costs.
Closing the Connectivity Gap with Robust Networking
Today, smart energy/grid network management systems offer feature-rich and customizable industry protocols that can manage a healthcare facility’s smart energy devices while also managing the communication network connecting them.
The number of nodes continues to grow on any given network, and while traditional wireless connectivity hovers around 150Mbps to 900Mbps, service providers are increasingly making 5G available for healthcare environments whose walls are heavily nested with CAT 6, 7 or 8 cable (and in some cases, older CAT 5). Be it copper or fiber, they’re simply running out of room. According to HealthAffairs, 5G “has the unique potential to contribute to preventative care by leveraging high speeds for data transmission to increase the ubiquity of sensor data, which in turn would facilitate patient access to hospital-like monitoring at [patients’] homes.”