Perhaps one of the vertical markets that have seen the most change in the last five years is healthcare. Though later to the market than some other verticals Healthcare has, overnight, “gone online” with almost every phase of medicine living in the cloud today. But it doesn’t end there; more healthcare professionals are using more devices from more locations and sucking down more bandwidth than ever before.
And it is not just the doctors or allied health professionals that are accessing the network, it is also suppliers, field operations personnel, and even patients themselves. This puts a tremendous amount of strain on the network than it was ever architected to handle. As you bring vendors in to assess your network, you will be told about a bunch of things you already know including security threats that run rampant in healthcare organizations, the need to scale the network given new applications that come online, the requirements that HIPAA dictate and more. You will see fancy slides and be given an education…on things you already know.
The fact is this: You are the IT professional in your organization. Your colleagues look to you as the subject matter expert and as such you don’t need to be lectured on how to architect your network for what is happening today. Instead, you need to think about what is happening tomorrow. Like what? ICD9 moving to ICD10, RFID tracking of assets and believe it or not, patients! You need to consider telemedicine, patient translation services at the patient’s bedside, advanced telemetry from the field where definitive care now begins, distance operating where the physician may be hundreds of miles away from the patient and operating on a patient through the network thanks to advances in robotics.
On the patient satisfaction side, many hospitals today provide patients with the ability to provision phone, movies and even internet at their bed. This is only the beginning for the types of services which will be made available to patients, and all these services are and additional revenue stream to the healthcare facility.
As you are getting slick vendor presentations, perhaps the most important thing to consider is if they can truly provide you with a platform to make your network “forward compatible” for future requirements. This platform needs to work well with a variety of technologies beyond what an individual vendor can offer; because you should never be locked into a single vendor. You should never have to rip and replace your existing infrastructure due to an incompatibility. And perhaps most of all, management should be straightforward with a single O/S that frees up your personnel to concentrate on life critical tasks rather than on babysitting disparate technologies that don’t play well together.
You were hired to your organization because you are the expert. Rather than having a prospective vendor go over ground which you already know, expect from your vendor the ability to partner with you and create an ecosystem whose bedrock is founded on a robust platform and can support the network ahead.
Exploring the vision for the networking industry and the issues shaping its future.
Vice President, Business Strategy and Marketing
Software Solutions Division