How Health Care Providers Can Benefit From SD WAN

Today’s health care IT networks face a broad set of challenges. For starters, they are under mounting pressure to support sophisticated medical applications that are now regularly accessed from many different corporate and personal devices, such as phones, tablets and PCs. At the same time, providers face the ongoing task of maintaining regulatory compliance and defending their privileged data from security breaches.

What are the biggest communications issues in health care IT?
The WAN throughout a hospital, clinic or dentist’s office is ideally the backbone for the reliable, safe communications that health care organizations both expect and require. Many WAN implementations have not caught up with the current environment, though. A June 2014 Ponemon Institute Research Report estimated that outdated communications and networking technologies may cost the health care industry more than $11 billion per year. Some commonly cited problems included:

  • Delays in getting through to the department the patient is being admitted to (cited by 61 percent of the Ponemon Institute’s survey respondents).
  • Waiting for a long time to receive the results of diagnostic tests and other patient information (37 percent).
  • Difficulties in coordinating with primary care physicians and other clinicians (45 percent).

An unreliable WAN – i.e., one that goes down too often due to single link failure, or that becomes overwhelmed by traffic spikes that can then compromise the performance of mission-critical applications – can trigger or exacerbate all of these issues. In this context, it makes sense that more providers are turning to software defined WAN solutions such as Talari’s THINKING WAN to modernize their networks and ensure optimal care delivery.

Dentist's offices have benefited from smoother communications and better records managements via SD-WAN.Dentist’s offices have benefited from smoother communications and better records management via SD-WAN.

This SD-WAN adapts in real-time to changing network conditions and bandwidth demand levels. In this way, it ensures sufficient resources for applications like voice and video, while also supporting important workflows such as bulk/large file transfers and centralized medical recordkeeping. Moreover, the 256-bit AES encryption provided in Talari solutions ensures that packets passing over a public Internet circuit are safe from surveillance, simplifying compliance.

SD-WAN in real life: Bringing network reliability to Benevis-affiliated dentists
How much difference can an SD-WAN make for a health care provider? Consider the case of health care practice services company Benevis, which recently helped one of its affiliated dentists, Kool Smiles, deploy a Talari SD WAN.

“Network spend at some offices fell almost 40 percent.”

Thanks to this implementation, Kool Smiles was able to reduce its network spend at some of its offices by almost 40 percent and remove costly MPLS entirely at these locations. In the wake of the Talari deployment, the number of Kool Smiles sites meeting their 99.9 percent uptime targets rose from about 53 percent in 2012 to over 96 percent in 2014.

On a more technical level, the SD-WAN conferred substantial benefits like:

  • Streamlined management of Kool Smiles’ centralized electronic health record system, Boomerang, through the WAN. Operating costs were lowered and the experience was improved for both dentists and patients.
  • Superior handling of complex network traffic from VoIP telephony, large dental image file transfers and Citrix transactions. Standard carrier Quality of Service for MPLS could not provide the same dexterity.
  • Fewer outages that could interrupt dental service. The Talari Software Defined WAN solution increased network capacity, reliability and overall quality for a less error-prone IT environment.

The WAN is at the center of health care providers’ operations and as such must meet high requirements for performance, security and scalability. SD-WAN solutions have proven their abilities to make the most of broadband Internet links and prioritize the key applications that medical offices rely on each and every day. Modernizing the WAN ultimately gives organizations a way to deliver better care and improve its cost-effectiveness. Try a demo of a Talari SD WAN today!

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), Application Performance/Application Quality, IT Challenges, Network Reliability, Business Agility, Hybrid WAN