When looking at all the options for network service providers, there are five key initiatives healthcare IT decision-makers should focus on. They are:
1). Focus on network security. Many are already focused on security but have yet to seize the opportunity of fully converged network and security. Make sure your network strategy encompasses traffic visibility, encryption, and policies to keep patients, providers, staff and visitors safe.
2). Don’t over-architect or under-architect your network. It should grow as demand grows to meet your “peak time” needs and stay nimble enough to scale to meet future capacity requirements.
3). Verify your network’s operational integrity. Configure your networks with infrastructure and process reliability, backup connections, and backup sites.
4). Enable network traffic routing over diverse underlay connectivity services. This is key for multi-regional hospital systems moving away from hub-and-spoke models to more collaborative peer-to-peer models including SD-WAN.
5). Schedule periodic reviews of the network to address shifting requirements. Make sure your network stays flexible with simple add-ons (like firewalls or VPN services) and advance to virtualize network functions and edge compute.
What Healthcare IT Leaders Must Demand from Network Service Providers
1. Scalable bandwidth allows for agility as your needs shift over time.
2. Flexibility to adjust to fast service turn-up as traffic patterns change with healthcare technology adoption.
3. High-reliability features (dual site, dual link, operations processes) with matching Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
4. Analytics tools to assist with service and network visibility.
5. Processes and tools for encrypted connections, core edge protection and services to assess security risk.
6. Aligning network capabilities with flexible contracting so you can grow services as needed. Given the convergence of network and security along with the rate of application adoption and change, healthcare IT leaders must demand more from service providers – not just in the services themselves but in strategic alignment, advisement, and technical partnership.
7. Look to partner with service providers whose network is built on wholly-owned fiber assets and industry-leading technology. This will provide a scalable, flexible, high-capacity transport of transit and protect traffic to support the ever-changing demands of the digital healthcare community.
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