For most businesses, network downtime, or losing connection to email and offsite applications or backup, is a financial and operational concern. In the healthcare industry, though, network downtime is much more serious.
An unplanned network outage, after all, can negatively impact patients’ health and wellbeing—resulting in a disaster for individuals, healthcare providers, and service providers alike.
There’s no room for any downtime in healthcare, and for protection many organizations are turning to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) which is the most advanced WAN connectivity option on the market.
In this article, we’ll show how SD-WAN is making the healthcare industry more responsive and resilient, and how service providers selling healthcare products can offer it.
First things First: What’s SD-WAN?
In layman’s terms, SD-WAN is a new way of creating a network. It allows multiple Internet connections at each location to be added together into a single connection. This means that there’s more speed and better failover without the cost and complexity of buying dedicated connections from the local telecom.
In more technical terms, SD-WAN creates a virtual network that allows businesses and competitive service providers to deliver and manage connectivity and services remotely, without involving the telco or cableco that provides the underlying physical connections. This means network administrators can add WAN links, and change policies with push-button ease.
While you may think SD-WAN is only used for connecting large, multi-site enterprises, it can also be used for single-sites. Organizations of all sizes can benefit from it, from large hospitals with numerous buildings to small medical practices.
How Can SD-WAN Help the Healthcare Industry?
Here are some of the many processes that require constant uptime in today’s ultra-connected healthcare environments, and how SD-WAN can help.
Patients expect secure access to medical records, at the drop of a dime. This is necessary for personal record keeping, dealing with insurance companies, and when consulting with third party specialists. When patients can’t access electronic records, they’re liable to call and voice their frustration—clogging up the phone lines, and resulting in further frustration when agents on the other end can’t access the data, either.
In addition to preventing network accessibility issues, SD-WAN also enables superior VoIP quality. When customers have to call in and speak with representatives regarding their electronic records, they will experience clear conversations without any dropouts or jitter.
Downtime and network issues can lead to back-end confusion, when staff members can’t access client notes, schedules, messaging portals, and other critical systems. More and more healthcare applications are coming to market, further enhancing the need for robust connectivity.
SD-WAN will let a network scale bandwidth with ease, meaning a facility won’t suffer from bandwidth issues during peak traffic times when many people are using the network.
The days of performing manual medical procedures are long gone. Now, doctors, nurses, and surgeons are increasingly using connected devices and robotics to perform surgeries and body scans. Soon, too, artificial intelligence will play a larger role in medical procedures. For this reason, connectivity in a doctor’s room or surgery is considered mission critical. Downtime could lead to serious patient harm, or even loss of life.
With SD-WAN, a healthcare provider can take two or more internet circuits and create a single data path, for stacked bandwidth and combined availability. This can enable failover, for guaranteed connectivity during a medical procedure.
Patients have busy schedules, and expect to be seen at the time of their appointment. This also holds true for virtual e-visits, where a patient may log in over the internet for a medical consultation with a doctor. While e-visits have obvious benefit in rural and remote communities where getting to a doctor or specialist may not be possible, e-visits also benefit seniors, parents with young children at home and people with disabilities who have difficulty in getting to a doctor.
In all these use-cases, connectivity is critical – the quality of the e-visit is dictated by the voice and video quality that is possible. A lapse in connectivity or poor connection on the provider’s part can negatively impact the patient experience, potentially leading to the patient seeking care from alternative provider who can accommodate them.
SD-WAN makes it possible to aggregate multiple connections from multiple providers, including wireless and LTE, enabling high quality multimedia transmissions at any hour.
What’s in it for Service Providers?
By offering SD-WAN, service providers can rest easy knowing that customers will always be able to access their core services—even during a local outage.
By leveraging Multapplied’s white label SD-WAN, service providers can also have full control over markup, infrastructure, and marketing/ branding. So there is a tremendous opportunity at hand to drive profits from SD-WAN.
So ultimately, SD-WAN can offer two major advantages for service providers: Improved application delivery with minimal downtime, and maximized profits.
As shown above, there is a need for SD-WAN in the healthcare sector, and Service Providers re-selling Multapplied’s SD-WAN have the opportunity to capitalize on that need and turn it into profit.
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