Solutions Guide: Bandwidth Issues

April 5, 2015


5 tips for architecting a healthcare-ready network

By Karin Ratchinsky, Sr. Director of North American Segment Strategy, Level 3 Communications

Regulations mandate that healthcare organizations ensure, to their best ability, 100 percent uptime to deliver uninterrupted patient care. As more applications become mission critical to hospital operations and as more intelligence gets funneled to the point of care, availability and performance will become more imperative. We’ve come a long way from the days of frame relay networks connecting basement data centers, and the following five considerations are instrumental in deploying next-gen healthcare-ready network solutions:

  1.  Ensure true diversity. Paying for the same service twice is defeating, but when that equates to a single point of failure on your healthcare network the result can be catastrophic. In order to ensure true diversity, you need to sit down with each of your network providers and, with a fine tooth comb, look through every overpass and entryway down to the street level to ensure diversity. This may seem obvious, but I have seen many cases where this due diligence was overlooked.
  2. Enable optimum application and network performance. Because of HITECH mandates, providers were quick to adopt and deploy EHRs, but what became painfully clear were the extremely demanding latency requirements of some of these applications. Just as a sports car can’t perform in gridlock, nor can some applications function in a high-latency environment. Before deploying applications and before executing on virtualization strategies, sit down with your network provider to ensure you have the right type of quality of service (QoS) and connectivity in place.
  3. Form a data center connectivity strategy. Providers are consolidating data centers for cost efficiencies to ensure consistency and to exercise more control over virtualized care-critical applications. Network redundancy and design ensure uptime and performance, but determining the location of these data centers is key as well. Data centers should be strategically located to ensure geographically disparate sites aren’t subject to latency lags and to connect to key cloud partners.
  4. Leverage the cloud. There has been rampant cloud adoption in healthcare in the past few years, but most organizations are merely dipping their toe in the water. The cloud should be more integrated into strategic plans, because organizations can gain significant flexibility, cost efficiencies, and needed storage and compute cycles.
  5. Scale on demand. Gone will be the days that peak network requirements dictate business-as-usual bandwidth connectivity. On-demand network provisioning is an effective way that healthcare organizations can dynamically run their network to consistently schedule connectivity ramp-ups during nightly backups or on demand for one-time requirements. Work with a network partner that has dynamic capacity abilities that enable you to scale and respond as your needs evolve.

Healthcare applications and the intelligence that is mobilized to the point of care are highly reliant on high-performing, highly available network architectures. Your network provider should have an influential, trusted and responsive seat at your HIT table.

Wireless Networks

FCC cracks down on Wi-Fi jamming

With the use of personal Wi-Fi hotspots on the rise, some commercial establishments have blocked wireless consumers from using their own smartphones and tablets to access the Internet. A new enforcement advisory from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) condemns the practice, threatens monetary penalties for violators and has implications for healthcare facilities.

In its enforcement advisory of Jan. 27, 2015, the FCC said, “No hotel, convention center or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hotspots on such premises.” Asked if the prohibition extends to healthcare facilities, a spokesman for the commission confirmed that was the case.

The genesis of this advisory stems from a complaint against Marriott International, which admitted to deploying a deauthentication protocol at its Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, TN, to block consumers looking to connect to the Internet using personal Wi-Fi hotspots. It settled the investigation by paying a civil fine of $600,000 last fall.

“Yes. It applies to everyone, including prisons, schools and other institutions,” Neil Grace, senior communications advisor at the FCC, wrote in an email to the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).“

Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in a prepared statement.

Since the Marriott settlement, the FCC received additional complaints about Wi-Fi blocking and is investigating vigorously.

Rick Hampton, the wireless communications manager at Partners HealthCare System in Boston, MA, said all healthcare facilities should be aware that the use of “cell jammers” and similar devices that can interfere with any authorized radio communications is illegal.

“Most people don’t bother to read regulations or figure out how the regulation applies to them,” said Hampton. “Instead, there is a tendency, especially in healthcare, to believe that you can do what you want, based upon your good intentions. If it later turns out those actions run counter to some regulation, the reasoning is usually something like, ‘We’re a small fish in a big ocean, and we won’t get caught. If we do get caught, we can say that we meant well and we will be forgiven.’ Neither is true.”

Hampton added that healthcare facilities need to actively manage their networks in a manner that doesn’t infringe on the rights of other users of the radio spectrum, including those utilizing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Source: AAMI


Verizon releases Internet of Things report

By 2025, best-in-class organizations that extensively use Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in their products and operations to capture, transmit and analyze data in near real time will be up to 10 percent more profitable. This is one of the eye-opening predictions that can be found in “State of the Market: The Internet of Things (IoT) 2015: Discover How IoT is Transforming Business Results.” The new Verizon report details key factors driving the increase in IoT deployments and provides guidance for business and public sector leaders on developing an IoT strategy. It also addresses how personal area networks (PANs) and broadband-based gateways will need the wide area network (WAN) and cloud platforms to share, host and process data. Verizon saw a 40 percent growth in machine-to-machine connections in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors in 2014, with that number projected to grow substantially in the next few years.

Download the report at

Bandwidth Solutions

Telework reinvented

Comcast Business provides advanced network services specifically built to support the growing data demands of the healthcare industry, offering carrier-grade Ethernet solutions that serve as the backbone to a high-performing healthcare IT delivery chain. Ethernet services are robust, secure and scalable to 10 Gbps, and are ideal for supporting mission-critical healthcare applications. The newly launched Ethernet @Home service allows healthcare institutions to securely extend corporate-network private connections to doctors and other healthcare employees working from home. They also offer Business Voice Edge, a cloud-based, hosted voice solution that supports telemedicine initiatives that connect doctors with patients through point-to-point video capabilities. Comcast Business

Expand your Wi-Fi connectivity outside

The Aerohive 802.11ac AP1130 access point provides highly resilient network access even in extremely challenging physical environments, including extreme temperatures. This unit enables effortless expansion on the network while maintaining a consistent, secure set of policies that can be rolled out across the entire organization. The lightweight, easily installable access point has been crafted with LEDs that monitor client and backhaul connections, supported by accurate audible and visual tuning mechanisms for positioning directional antennas over long-range, point-to-point mesh connections. Aerohive

OhioHealth, Time Warner team up for telemed

Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC) is providing the OhioHealth not-for-profit system with 100-Mbps point-to-point Ethernet Private Line (EPL) fiber circuits connecting 50 care sites, 300-Mbps Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) at their headquarters, plus up to 100-Mbps high-speed Internet access service connecting the organization’s smaller offices. This gives OhioHealth the speed and capacity for applications such as streaming two-way audio and video. In one application, skilled ICU “intensivists” at a central metro facility can now remotely monitor critical patients in hospitals that lack 24-hour access to on-site specialized ICU staff. Another example is the OhioHealth Stroke Network, which connects emergency teams at community hospitals to specialists in critical care and stroke at OhioHealth’s facilities in Columbus, Ohio. Time Warner Cable Business Class

Analyze your network like never before

Purview network-powered analytics provides IT with visibility and control of applications and websites (including related sub-websites) resident in all parts of the network, from the wired or wireless edge all the way through the core and data center, as well as application traffic from the enterprise to the private cloud, public cloud or any service on the Internet. With this tool, HIT users can analyze and improve the availability and performance of life-saving applications, troubleshooting issues before clinicians and patient lives are impacted. Extreme Networks

Oregon Health gets fiber-optic loop

Charter Communications and Oregon Health Network have completed a broadband fiber-optic network that brings advanced capabilities for video telemedicine, broadband Internet speedsand high-definition television to customers in southern Oregon and Crescent City, CA. Made possible by the FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Program, the completed fiber-optic network is the final segment of an 87-mile route from Grants Pass, OR, to Crescent City, CA, consisting of a 720-GB circuit with capacity to service thousands of people across multiple cities. A new, 1-GB circuit connects directly to Sutter Coast hospital with the capability to transmit an MRI X-ray in less than one second or a pathological study (cardiologists working on an active X-ray table) in about eight seconds. Charter Communications

Get automated security for your offline devices

Absolute Computrace – Device Freeze Offline Policy allows IT to set an automated freeze command for any device that remains offline for a specific period of time. The policy is engaged each time a device disconnects from the network. When this occurs, a timer will be activated in the device with a duration assigned by IT. If the timer elapses before the device makes contact with the Absolute Monitoring Center, the device will automatically freeze and IT will be alerted. Absolute Software

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