Challenges for the Future of Healthcare Networks

Medical facilities face the challenge of upgrading their healthcare networks and providing comprehensive support for the growing demands of digitized information according to a recent report by HIMSS Analytics. In a recent study, “Healthcare Provider Network Solutions, Barriers and Challenges” HIMSS reports that “As health care organizations implement information technology solutions including components of the electronic health record (EHR), it becomes increasingly important for healthcare organizations to have a strong, reliable network infrastructure.” [1]

Looking toward the future, many healthcare leaders agreed that they must be prepared to meet the growing demands placed on their networks. Three key areas of agreement include the following:

  • Scalability of Solutions
  • Executive Support
  • Cloud Computing

Healthcare organizations are expanding to multi-site facilities and creating multiple contact points with partners and patients. IT Directors face the challenge of providing wired and wireless support for clinics, nursing homes, doctor offices, in-home care and more. Preparing to meet the growing demands, many leaders recognize the need for infrastructure investment.

Scalability of Solutions – Some networks are dependent on out-of-date technologies like DSL and T-lines. Healthcare networks face the challenge of expanding to meet both the increasing data stream demands as well as the providing comprehensive wireless support across the facilities since many still have a range of blank patches with no wireless support.

Executive Support – Upgrading infrastructure requires investment and executive support. Ultimately this means educating the leadership on healthcare network requirements as well as the associated licenses that must be renewed annually. This need for educating leaders is an ongoing challenge for IT. As we move forward into the age of digitized information, it is essential for technology leaders to learn how to effectively communicate the ways that IT supports and directly adds to business goals in healthcare and other organizations.

Cloud Computing – The transition to cloud storage is an ongoing concern for healthcare leaders particularly in relation to security and regulatory compliance. Part of the challenge is educating leaders within in the organization about the various options in cloud computing from private clouds to hybrid solutions and more. As the pressure for cost savings, scalability and rapid deployment increase, leaders will feel increased pressure to utilize cloud solutions. The key is proper planning with a comprehensive data inventory and a plan that address the range of concerns within the organization.

[1] “Healthcare Provider Network Solutions, Barriers and Challenges.” HIMSS Analytics, May 2013 <http://www.himssanalytics.org/research/AssetDetail.aspx?pubid=82090&tid=127>

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