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Why IT Is a Matter of Life and Death in Healthcare

Since the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), doctors and emergency medical teams have become dependent on networks to access and exchange patient information. If these networks perform inadequately or fail, the patient’s life can hang in the balance.

In healthcare, just adopting technology isn’t enough. Healthcare providers need to choose technology
that meets the extreme demands of their industry. As uses for healthcare technology expand into innovations like telemedicine, healthcare providers face higher performance, availability, and security requirements.

EHR Advantages Bring Risk

Technology has revolutionized healthcare. The ability to easily locate and transmit patient histories has led to more efficient, accessible, and personalized treatment. All the members of a healthcare team can share information and collaborate when creating a treatment plan. With EHRs, healthcare providers can provide treatment more quickly while avoiding costly errors. After adopting their current EHR, DeKalb Medical Center experienced a 66% reduction in medication administration errors.

Healthcare technology allows patients to become more engaged. They can monitor their own health and be proactive about treatment. Using mobile devices, patients can schedule video visits or email consultations with their doctors. Patients in remote areas can gain access to specialists who are located far away.

At the same time as EHRs bring advantages, they also leave healthcare providers open to risk. If a healthcare facility experiences a data breach or outage, patient records become inaccessible. Doctors may be denied the information they need to make treatment decisions, such as medication allergies or pre-existing conditions. Resorting to paper records during a crisis dangerously slows the treatment process.

The Need for Speed

Healthcare providers don’t have time to waste when providing patient care. During a healthcare emergency, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Real-time communication ensures that medical teams receive the most current and accurate information needed to treat patients safely. Treatment teams need sufficient bandwidth to access vital information when necessary and to process large volumes of patient data for a complete picture of the patient’s history.

Staying Connected

Healthcare providers need high-quality connections that can handle large volumes of data quickly. For example, during video visits, doctors need a high-resolution image and uninterrupted audio so they are sure they are getting complete and accurate information to provide the right diagnosis and treatment.

EHRs contain huge volumes of data. The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that an EHR system can contain 150,000 data points. To guarantee information comes through clearly without crippling bottlenecks, healthcare organizations need to work with technology providers whose SLAs offer lower latency and decreased jitter.

Disaster Recovery

In healthcare, downtime comes at a high financial and human cost. Healthcare organizations need to guarantee their services around the clock during traumatic events or for even the more common causes of downtime. For this reason, hospitals and medical centers need solid disaster recovery and business continuity plans that include leveraging a cloud provider or off-site data center, as well as a network solution that provides diverse routes to the DR site.

Using the Right Network

For healthcare providers, choosing the right network can make a huge difference in the reliability and quality of the medical treatment you offer. High-speed fiber-optic networks are the key to transmitting information when and where it needs to be accessed.

Healthcare organizations in the New England Region need look no further than FirstLight for superior network performance. FirstLight provides dedicated bandwidth up to 100 Gbps and custom-designed network solutions for redundancy and performance.  Additionally, healthcare organizations can leverage these network solutions for ultra-low latency connectivity to FirstLight’s data centers or cloud, providing a complete BC/DR solution with the goal of achieving virtually 100% uptime.

Get an in-depth look at how the right network can help your business meet IT challenges. Read our white paper, When Milliseconds Matter: The Definitive Buying Guide to Network Services for Healthcare Organizations.

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