The rise of collaborative, real-time healthcare is pushing network architecture at many medical facilities to the limit. As healthcare executives weigh options for keeping up with digital health trends, Conterra continues to develop solutions designed to support an industry that incredibly produces nearly 30% of all the data in the world as estimated by RBC Capital Markets. If IDC’s estimate is correct, the industry as a whole will reach an astounding 10ZB+ of total data by 2025.

According to the 2022 HIMSS State of Healthcare report, the communications challenge is well-known, with 75% of U.S. healthcare systems ranking immediate investment in digital transformation initiatives as ‘crucial.’

Understanding the escalating demand for bandwidth in healthcare

Digital health extends far beyond the virtual appointments that exploded from rare to commonplace during the pandemic. While virtual care absolutely plays a significant role in the rapid rise of data consumption in healthcare, the need for revamping or replacing legacy network architecture is far broader than a single application.

Here are a few of the realities fueling the need for healthcare systems and providers to transform digitally:

File sizes continue to grow

  • According to IBM, up to 90% of a hospital’s data is generated by medical images
  • Purview states that DBT images can range from 450MB to 3GB with a single CT scan data set requiring up to 30GB
  • Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology found that the average cardiac MRI uses 200MB while the average ViosWorks exam file was 10x larger, at 20GB each

Digital healthcare applications becoming the norm

  • The use of digital applications for healthcare delivery is a primary driver of increasing bandwidth needs
  • Simple applications such as secure text messaging for doctors and nurses leads to large data usage when applied across an entire healthcare system

Data and security challenges

  • HIPAA and security compliance is driving healthcare network administrators to account for data encryption, resilience, firewall, and secure cloud-based remote access capabilities
  • The Ponemon Institute approximates the average data breach in healthcare to cost $9.3M

The introduction of cutting-edge data-hungry technology

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Medical robotics
  • Mixed reality and virtual reality based care
  • Live streaming and other video applications
  • Wearable medical devices
  • Natural language processing for dictating visit notes into patient charts
  • Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Things healthcare IT leaders must look out for when planning network architecture

Architecting the right network for your healthcare facility or system is a complex endeavor. Under-architect and you’ll be dealing with network congestion, unplanned outages, poor application performance and the potential for diminished patient outcomes. Over-architect and you waste valuable resources that could be invested elsewhere while leaving excess bandwidth underutilized.

To strike the right balance, it is imperative to work with a provider who understands the unique network needs and pitfalls that must be considered in the healthcare industry.

Typical system network configurations used in healthcare

  • HQ Campus – a basic network configuration that uses fiber and 5G to connect different departments/buildings to the central data center
  • Core – used when more than one regional HQ is present, managed dark fiber, managed wavelength, 10Gbps – 100Gbps+ dark fiber, or 100Gbps ethernet are leveraged to enable Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans backed by secondary, tertiary and public cloud-based data centers
  • Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) – by splitting traffic between ethernet and a business internet connection, smaller or rural medical facilities can use software to route mission critical data over the low-latency ethernet connection while less sensitive data travels over the internet

Are you preparing for 5G adoption?

  • According to IDC, 66% of all hospitals will be 5G enabled within the next five years
  • 5G connectivity can be used in conjunction with the fiber network where fiber may not be possible or necessary

The ethernet advantage

Adding ethernet to your network architecture is perhaps the quickest way to improve security and compliance, increase resiliency, enjoy greater agility and stability, and enhance interoperability.

When using ethernet, IP addressing and routing are controlled by the customer, which leads to greater control over the network and the ability to manage critical applications internally as opposed to relying on a service provider.

Ethernet also allows for the immediate capability to scale as much or as little as your facility or system requires. Additional bandwidth is available on demand with the added benefit of reduced latency and higher throughput compared to non-ethernet options.

In many cases, upgrading to ethernet can lead to reduced costs and improved coverage while strengthening security over Layer 2, FW/vFW and SSE solutions.

Why trust Conterra with your healthcare network infrastructure?

As a local provider of 100% fiber networks, our teams work hard to stay up to speed on the industries undergoing the most complex transformations in terms of network reliance and massive data throughput. By keeping our finger on the pulse of IT trends in healthcare, we have become industry leaders in developing communications solutions for hospitals, medical centers, research facilities, care centers, doctors’ offices and more.

To speak with a local expert, call 888-266-4836.