Medical technology continues to progress quickly, and as new devices continue to be employed in the medical field, network connectivity will only increase in importance. Today, patients expect to be able to schedule telehealth appointments, communicate with their doctors virtually, and send information to their medical providers from various smart devices.
For providers to continue to meet the demands of their patients, they need to employ appropriate strategies to maximize their uptime and minimize their downtime. Even though perfect connectivity might be unrealistic, network disruptions can have a negative impact on patient care and disrupt revenue streams. In fact, Gartner found that just one minute of downtime costs the average business $5,600.
To maximize patient outcomes, there are a few steps that medical systems and practices must take.
- Upgrade Network Infrastructure
Legacy technology continues to be a significant problem in the medical field. Hospitals often have detailed, intricate infrastructure to not only meet significant demands but also comply with all federal rules and regulations, including HIPAA.
Unfortunately, outdated network hardware and software are often the culprits behind excessive downtime. To rectify this issue, healthcare providers must rely on modern network infrastructure, including virtualization, software-defined networking, and cloud-based systems. These innovative technologies can increase versatility, flexibility, scalability, and reliability, ultimately reducing downtime.
It is incumbent on medical systems to work with professionals who can help them find the right infrastructure to meet their needs.
- Take Advantage of Network Redundancy
Defining a backup plan is always beneficial, and that is where network redundancy can be critical. Redundancy means that there is a backup plan in place if the primary network system fails. Clustered servers, redundant network devices, and multiple ISPs can ensure the network and facility remain operational even if the primary internet connection goes down.
Medical facilities should also rely on an automatic failover system. Like a generator that kicks in when the power goes out, an automatic failover system will automatically turn on if the network goes down in a failure. This allows doctors to continue to access the internet while the primary problem gets addressed.
- Invest in the Latest Cybersecurity Measures
As more industries rely on the internet for their daily operations, cyberattacks will only become more frequent. The medical field is no exception, and in fact, hospitals are frequently targeted by cyberattacks, includingransomware attacks.
Cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, can lead to significant downtime that has a negative impact on patient care. The best way to deal with a cyber attack is to prevent it from happening, and that means implementing strong firewalls, encrypting all data, and relying on secure VPNs. A VPN is particularly important when people are working remotely, and patients are interested in digital appointments.
Employing the latest security measures is not enough. Regular security audits are also crucial because they can identify vulnerabilities and patch potential holes before they are exploited by criminals.
- Have a Continuity Plan in Place
Even though viruses and malware remain significant threats, natural disasters are also significant threats. They can lead to major downtime, and having a business continuity plan in place is crucial.
This plan should lay out the steps for not only restoring services quickly but also ensuring patients continue to be cared for even as mainline services work to be restored. For example, medical practices must make sure they back up their data frequently and store it off-site to ensure it is accessible in the event of a disaster. This plan should also be practiced to ensure staff members know what to do in the event of a disaster.
- Invest in Routine Maintenance
Routine maintenance should also be a critical strategy to maximize uptime. Software has to be patched, outdated hardware has to be replaced, and network devices might have to be cleaned out from time to time.
No business wants to be disrupted by routine maintenance, and the medical field is no different. However, these activities are still important, so they should be scheduled for off-peak hours to ensure they get done on time while also minimizing disruptions.
Employ These Key Strategies To Maximize Network Uptime
As the medical field continues to rely more heavily on the internet, maximizing uptime and minimizing downtime will only become more important. Ensuring reliable network connectivity can not only improve patient outcomes but also drive revenue growth. Medical systems and physician practices should review their network connectivity strategies from time to time to ensure they have a comprehensive plan in place.