Critical Connectivity: Why Healthcare Facilities Need Converged Networks

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With the Internet of Things (IoT) driving bandwidth demands higher and higher, healthcare facility and infrastructure managers find themselves facing expensive and disruptive rip-and-replace scenarios for networks not able to scale, migrate, and keep up.

To keep up with demand, infrastructure needs to be flexible. Learn how a converged network can deliver superior support while providing capital and operational expenditure savings.

Networks Face Ever-Increasing Demands

Creating an envelope of secure connectivity around patients and patient care is critical. Real-time data transfer required for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is driving adoption of mobile devices as the primary means of communication between physicians, staff and administration. Multiple handheld devices use by staff and patients, as well as the adoption of data-heavy applications enabling digital diagnosis, drug inventory tracking, Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), and Picture Archiving (PACS) are just a few of the requirements on a growing list of facility network demands.

Add to this list the complexity of supporting LAN, cellular, Wi-Fi, security, AV and patient guest “always on” expectations. You quickly understand that with the current approach to network design, IT infrastructure managers will have to keep upgrading and juggling to handle demand increases on multiple fronts over multiple overlying networks.

The majority of these network designs are simply not smart enough, not flexible enough, and certainly not sustainable for future growth and technology innovation.

A Converged Solution Keeps Up in the “Always On” Era

Imagine the peace of mind and cost savings a “wire it once” network infrastructure would provide. Unpredictable demands require flexibility. Healthcare facilities need more energy efficiency and smart control over capacity planning. Furthermore, is it possible to eliminate network downtime due to moves, adds and changes (MACs) and/or expansions?

It’s not only possible, it’s happening. A converged solution strategy better enables future technology as well as capital and operational expenditure savings. An all-optical backbone can deliver support for LAN, cellular, and Wi-Fi as well as support for other building systems.

What Converged Design Means for Healthcare Networks

So what does “converged” really mean? In the simplest terms, converged means cabling systems use a single infrastructure with connectivity for multiple services like security or AV. The goal is to leverage the converged infrastructure to align the physical infrastructure to improve operational efficiency.

The result is more bandwidth, more convenience, more customization and more content all over a secure, reliable, flexible, and converged optical network.

The Advantages of a Converged Network

What advantages does fiber actually provide? The benefits of fiber to the edge in a converged network design versus traditional copper deployment include:

  • A more dynamic network with virtually unlimited bandwidth
  • Smart control over capacity planning due to port prioritization
  • An inherently secure network due to optimal connectivity and usage of single-mode cable
  • Affordable scalability
  • Energy efficiency of fiber optics
  • Lightweight and easy-to-install components
  • Small diameter and reduced footprint for space savings
  • Wire it “once and done” infrastructure
  • Flexibility to incorporate future technologies

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Network Demands

In today’s multiple-device and on-demand healthcare environment, physicians, staff, patients and guests expect “always on” access to consistent, unlimited wireless connectivity. This access is critical for patient care and faster new technology adoption. The expansion of patient care and the associated services provided requires a communication network that supports convergence.

Future-ready solutions should be designed with the needs of healthcare facilities in mind: primarily the ability to run Wi-Fi, cellular and Ethernet backhaul over a single composite fiber cable. This converged architecture provides maximum flexibility to deploy new services as demand grows.

Get off the Rip-and-Replace Treadmill

Bandwidth growth rates will continue to be driven by the IoT. It’s time to rethink network design strategy and embrace a total cost of ownership mentality. Only then can designers step off the infrastructure rip-and-replace treadmill to construct the flexible, scalable, future-ready networks of tomorrow.

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Corning's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.

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