Healthcare Industry Computer Network Systems | NETSCOUT

Healthcare Industry Computer Network Systems

The healthcare industry is going through tremendous change due to the automation of patient care, causing huge impacts on IT organizations. The entire system managing the interaction between healthcare professionals and patients is dramatically evolving, and will completely impact the way a hospital does business.

Instead of tracking patients with a file folder and a clip board, many hospitals and clinics are being required to adopt the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). A fully implemented EMR system allows electronic storage, retrieval, and modification of patient information, allowing departments within the health organization to collaborate when providing care. In hospitals and clinics, these federally backed (in the United States and Canada) EMR systems will replace hundreds of different applications used by physicians, radiology personnel, and even hospital administration.There is tremendous pressure on IT departments to implement and support EMRsystems, allowing hospitals and clinics to take advantage of incentive programs and stimulus money.

Radiology departments are doing away with old film-based equipment and are now using Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) to electronically store, display, and transfer large digital images to any department or organization that may need them. Clinics are trending toward software as a service (SaaS) and remote hosting services to support these patient systems, rather than suffering the expense of bringing them in-house.

Mobility continues to trend upward in healthcare, as doctors make use of tablet devices at the bedside to access Computerized Physician Order Entry systems (CPOE). These orders are communicated over thenetwork to the medical staff in other departments, such as radiology, giving them treatment instructions on a specific patient. After these large images are captured, they are stored and made available for analysis by the physician, even at the bedside.

Hospital Room with Wireless Device

Historically, few healthcare organizations have employed a team of highly capable network engineers to provide IT services, simply because they have not been necessary. Now, the whole public health system is being digitally tied together, putting a greater strain on the network than ever before. Hospitals will have a tremendous need for experienced IT engineers to implement and support the increase in data volume and security requirements of EMR systems. These engineers will need to understand the healthcare process and business needs in addition to the technology.

With the implementation of EMR regulations, some hospitals and clinics will go out of business due to the fact that they cannot afford to meet compliance. This will result in major hospital mergers which will have huge impacts on IT engineers as they try to combine separate patient tracking systems, while doing it with zero downtime. Access to critical EMR and CPOE systems will be required from all corners of the hospital, as well as to affiliate organizations over the WAN. Traffic volume on hospital networks will continue to rise to new heights, with network engineers scrambling to ensure the network infrastructure can keep pace.

Application performance problems suffered by the front office, back office, or bedside will become more than just an inconvenience; they could be life-threatening. This means that engineers will need to be more than reactive troubleshooters. They will need to proactively monitor the system and take action on performance degradation before it impacts the physicians and patient care.

Key Considerations

If a healthcare IT organization does not make the changes necessary to support EMR and CPOE, they will not survive the next several years. In manyhospitals, implementing the EMR system in-house will require an overhaul on the network infrastructure, data warehousing, and application servers. Rather than take on this massive expense, some hospitals are considering the use of hybrid or private cloud services to host the EMR system. Regardless of how the service is hosted, digitizing patient data and making it secure and accessible for healthcare providers is a daunting.. How will data be merged during a hospital acquisition? What affiliate organizations outside the hospital will need access to patient data? How will IT share this data while staying in compliance with security regulations? Is the infrastructure ready for a huge spike in traffic load? If a hospital or clinic is suffering performance problems, this will impact the ability for physicians to provide efficient patient care, which can cause patients to go elsewhere and result is a loss of revenue for the hospital.

On the wireless side, hospitals have long been front-runners in supporting tablet and other wireless devices. However, as these are used by physicians and nurses to drive EMR, CPOE systems and for basic patient care, the increased data volume and security requirements will strain the wireless infrastructure, pushing it to its limits in throughput and coverage. This will especially be the case when large medical images such as MRI scans and X-Rays are accessed from the bedside. With the influx of patient devices such as iPads and smart phones, IT organizations will need to consider how they can provide guest access while maintaining bandwidth for critical hospital equipment.

Healthcare Industry Computer Network Best Practices

Healthcare IT needs to maintain uptime and performance for both the network and applications through these major healthcare reforms. The best way to do that is to ensure maximum visibility in as many touch points on the network as possible, and responding to issues and performance threats before they impact complex systems. For the in-house servers orcloud services supporting EMR and CPOE, automated application analysis with end user response time statistics will assist network engineers to be proactive in catching performance degradation before it impacts physicians, nurses and patients. When an unexpected issue does strike, stream-to-disk capture appliances will enable engineers to quickly isolate the root cause even for problems that occurred in the past.

The growth of wireless access in the healthcare market is showing no sign of slowing. To address this, IT organizations need a fully deployed wireless environment analysis system which can watchdog for security threats, while identifying problem points for hospital devices. Additionally, mobile wireless tools are critical in troubleshooting problems with interference, poor connectivity while roaming, and in resolving problems with signal quality.

Armed with the right visibility, healthcare IT organizations will be better equipped to manage and maintain the most complex, dynamic, and exciting environment in the industry.

Related Solutions

OptiView® XG Network Analysis Tablet
The OptiView XG provides unparalleled visibility into server and application performance, network infrastructure health, link utilization, and network service health. The analysis tablet is equipped with a 10Gig interface, which allows for link verification through line-rate capacity testing as well as lossless packet capture. The Path Analysis and 1 Click NetTest features allow a path through the network to be identified and analyzed, isolating pain points to a single link. Application dependencies can be determined and tested using the on-board ClearSight Analyzer and the Application Infrastructure feature.AirMagnet Analyzer, Spectrum XT, and Planner also available on the OPV XG are critical for identifying and resolving problem points in the Wireless Environment, especially when preparing for BYOD.


OptiView XG

Network Time Machine™
The Network Time Machine allows network engineers to keep a handle on application performance even in high bandwidth environments which support thousands of users, while providing packet-level detail for events that have occurred in the past. The Atlas feature automatically searches through Terabytes of stored packet data, combing for periods of degraded performance for critical applications and VoIP services.


Network Time Machine

Visual Performance Manager™/Application Performance Appliance
Visual Performance Manager is a unified system that provides enterprise service intelligence to help organizations effectively deliver business services. Visual Performance Manager spans the entire delivery infrastructure for complex multi-tiered networked application architectures throughout distributed enterprise including virtualized and cloud environments. Custom Dashboard views can be configured to display critical application performance components and nTier problem isolation.


Visual Performance Manager-Application Performance Appliance

TruView is a single analysis appliance that leverages key data sources such as packet inspection, transaction analysis, netflow, and SNMP to present a correlated view of network and application performance in a single, easy to understand dashboard view. These dashboards are critical in any IT environment for one-click root cause analysis to quickly understand and resolve performance problems. TruView automatically calibrates itself to performance baselines, even at remote sites. Simple dashboards and deep packet inspection allows for collaboration between Network Operations and Engineering in the event of a problem, giving each the critical data needed in order to resolve it.


TruView Appliance

AirMagnet Enterprise v10
This “Eyes in the Sky” solution monitors Enterprise Wireless networks for performance and security threats, 24/7, alerting Network Engineers when a problem strikes. This system is geared toward analyzing and supporting BYOD, since a mobile solution cannot be everywhere all the time. Sensors installed throughout the system ensure that wireless visibility is provided in all corners of the network, both on and off carpet.


AirMagnet Enterprise

AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer
The AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer is the industry standard mobile tool for auditing and troubleshooting enterprise Wi-Fi networks. IT Technicians and Engineers alike are equipped with the critical data needed to quickly solve end-user issues while automatically detecting security threats and wireless network vulnerabilities. AirMagnet WiFi identifies BYOD devices, enabling IT to stay ahead of users as they connect to the network with phones and tablets. The onboard AirWise feature gives actionable alerts for performance and security problems, enabling technicians to resolve problems without the need for expert-level RF training.

The AirMagnet Analyzer is available on the OptiView XG Analysis Tablet or as a stand-alone product.


AirMagnet Enterprise

AirMagnet Survey
AirMagnet Survey is the industry's most accurate solution for planning and designing 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless networks for optimum performance. This tool is ideal for identifying the quantity, placement, and configuration of access points for a thorough, high-bandwidth wireless deployment. This tool is a critical component for any company tasked with supporting wireless access for business-provided wireless devices as well as BYOD.


AirMagnet Survey


Related Resources

NETSCOUT provides many resources to help our customers solve (Healthcare Industry Computer Network Systems) challenges. 


Success Story:

Healthcare IT Success Story
A Q&A with Roger Estelle, Network Manager at Hawaii Health Systems
The Everett Clinic Success Story
A Quick Q&A with Donald Lester, Network and Telecom Manager


Product Solutions:

AirMagnet Enterprise v10
Trust and Verify your WLAN with AirMagnet Enterprise.
A Single Appliance Approach to Unified Application Performance Monitoring & Troubleshooting