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Creating your Enterprise Healthcare Mobility Network

By Bill Kleyman

- Designing and implementing a healthcare mobility network requires a comprehensive approach. It starts with what we already know — the workplace is no longer bound to 9 to 5 work hours within your enterprise healthcare walls. Doctors, associates, and nurses are now a lot more mobile and working from a lot of locations. Let’s pause on that note for a minute.

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When we think of mobility, our first inclination might be to look at the hand-held device right next to us. But that’s a very tactical approach to a much broader conversation. The concept of healthcare mobility must now extend into a strategic conversation involving the end-user, how content is consumed, how efficiently it’s being delivered, its compliance and security capabilities, as well as the end-point device. The overall goal is to enable and empower the workforce to give them greater freedom to information and resources. The trick is doing all of this securely.

Now, let’s jump back to the previous point. As our users evolve and workloads get a lot more complex, we’ll see an increase in data usage as well as the kinds of devices accessing the modern healthcare datacenter. Consider this from the latest Cisco Mobile Forecast and Cloud Index reports:

  • Global mobile data traffic will increase nearly tenfold between 2014 and 2019.
  • Because of increased usage on smartphones, those devices will reach three-quarters of mobile data traffic by 2019.
  • By 2019, mobile-connected tablets will generate nearly double the traffic generated by the entire global mobile network in 2014.
  • Globally, the data created by IoE devices will be 277 times higher than the amount of data being transmitted to data centers from end-user devices and 47 times higher than total data center traffic by 2018.

With all of this in mind, how do you create a more intelligent healthcare network? How can you allow the prioritization of healthcare traffic while still maintaining visibility and compliance? And, very importantly, how do you optimize the end-user experience to deliver rich content, securely?

Creating an enterprise healthcare mobility platform requires several key steps. Here are some ways healthcare organizations can create a more robust mobility-ready network.

Deploy smarter networks. Mobility spans much further than a device or an access point. Your network now plays an absolutely critical part in controlling mobility and data created by mobile devices. In fact, intelligent networks can identify the kinds of devices coming in, and are able to segment the traffic appropriately. Furthermore, you can directly control how certain types of apps and data sets work within your healthcare environment. For example, platforms like Cisco’s next-gen firewall integrates with wired and wireless systems and can identify thousands of applications. Furthermore, it also identifies more than 75,000 micro-applications, like Farmville on Facebook. The other big aspect is that these kinds of services can also identify the application behavior. Are there anomalies happening? Is data leaking? Are users posting or sharing things that they’re not supposed to? The other big aspect is the capability to integrate these kinds of security solutions directly into the network backplane. Rogue devices, malicious traffic, and attempted attacks can be stopped quickly when network and security platforms are tightly – and intelligently – combined.

Integrate intelligent wireless access points and controllers. Did you know that wireless solutions are outpacing wired platforms? Healthcare organizations need to understand this very quickly and deploy controls around their mobility platforms. New kinds of access points allow users to roam throughout an entire building, while never dropping the connection. However, on the backend, wireless controllers help track user movements and allow them to connect to resources closest to them – printers, servers, and even IP-based medical equipment. Furthermore, you begin to create a lot more internal wireless intelligence as well. You can now deploy a wireless network with one single SSID. From there, your wireless platform can identify the device, the user, the content being requested, and even authentication method. Privileged users will see a broader array of applications and data sets. Guests, for example, will only get access to Internet. The cool part is that you no longer have multiple wireless SSIDs for guest, admin, doctor, and associate networks. The intelligence is happening in the background. Finally, you give the user the ability to roam. This means they can go off-site while still being compliant with their mobile device. A doctor, for example, can walk from the hospital to the coffee shop while never dropping a connection. However, once the doctor hops off of the healthcare network, he will no longer be able to see protected healthcare information. He may still be able to do a video session, check some records, and be productive, but information that must stay within your organization will always do so.

Be ready for the future. Looking ahead, your healthcare environment will undoubtedly change. More IP-based devices are going to help patients and the healthcare system immensely though better care and improved prognosis capabilities. Through it all, your environment will have to handle all of this. The future healthcare environment will be a lot more connected, with a lot more wireless devices,  accessing a lot more information. Creating a dynamic healthcare mobility network today will help you be a lot more proactive in the very near future.

Your mobile architecture will only continue to change and evolve. Wearable technologies are going to make a huge impact on the healthcare environment and it’s critical that your mobile platform is capable of handling this kind of new traffic. The good news is that once you build in those policies around visibility, user control, and data management, you’ll create a platform capable of greater agility. You’ll be able to add new hospitals, branches and entire user groups quickly and efficiently. From there, you’ll be able to present applications and resources in a much more streamlined fashion. This kind of control and visibility also translates to direct integration with more intelligent and proactive security solutions. Moving forward, make sure to keep up with the kinds of devices connecting into your healthcare environment, how to keep them all secure, and how your platform can continue to optimize the end-user experience.

 

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