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Healthcare Network Management Brings Visibility, Control to Orgs

As Wi-Fi networks become more complex organizations need to implement sophisticated healthcare network management solutions.

healthcare network management

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations expanding their IT infrastructure to include connected medical devices and tools need to focus on healthcare network management. This helps provides greater visibility and controls, and also ensures that all tools connect properly and securely.

Wi-Fi networks can be difficult to maintain and control which is why network management solutions are gaining momentum. They are a critical part of a successful health IT infrastructure.

The managed Wi-Fi solutions market is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 15 percent through 2022, reaching $6.11 billion over $3.07 billion in 2017, according to a recent Research and Markets report.

While the growth of managed Wi-Fi is significant, organizations still face challenges when it comes to implementing the solutions. The report suggested that a lack of standards for interconnectivity and interoperability are likely to disrupt smooth implementation.

Visibility and control are critical for a network management solution. Network management solutions can provide IT administrators the control necessary to support the number of devices accessing the network, and help prioritize the traffic so mission-critical data gets through.

Network management solutions will identify that something as small as an infusion pump is trying to send a web request out to the internet instead of just communicating with the management server. Devices communicating abnormally can cause security problems for the network. Without a management solution, administrators may never detect small and potentially dangerous malfunctions.

Management solutions can provide IT administrators with the ability to troubleshoot problems per connection. That way the cause of the issue, whether it’s a connection between the device and the app or the app and the controller, can be directly identified and dealt with.

Management solutions can also help organizations identify when to schedule IT infrastructure maintenance. Scheduling maintenance can be challenging because hospitals need their networks up and running around the clock.

The network management solution can recognize connectivity patterns and identify periods of low activity so that organizations can plan updates and deployments that will cause the least amount of disruption possible.

Organizations have advanced options when it comes to network management in cloud-based management solutions and software-defined networking (SDN). Both are designed to streamline network management and handle the influx of devices and data connecting to the network.

Cloud-based network management is a subscription-based service that may appeal to many organizations because it’s less expensive from an investment perspective. Cloud-based management tools have a single point of management for provisioning, troubleshooting, configuration, and firmware management. 

Healthcare focused cloud-based management tools can also help organizations with interoperability and interconnectivity issues because the management tool is hosted and maintained by the cloud service provider. This means that many compliance and interoperability issues among other network and IT infrastructure tools may already be solved.

SDN is a more hands-on approach to network management from an IT administrator perspective, but works to simplify processes.

SDN uses virtualization to remove the intelligent management software from network hardware. By doing so, SDN creates a centralized, more intelligent, and easier managed network architecture.  

SDNs provide IT departments with the ability to architect a custom management network, allowing them to prioritize different packets depending on a set of dynamic factors. IT administrators can prioritize traffic for specific mission-critical applications. This prevents low priority traffic, such as back office applications and personal applications, from gaining priority transmission through the network.

The continued adoption of connected medical devices and the more data-intensive files moving through the network call for an elastic network. Elastic networks can be controlled based on how an organization’s network needs change and grow. Implementing a solution that gives IT administrators visibility and control over the network will help make connections more successful and better secure the network.

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