4 Ways Connectivity & Software-Defined Networking are Revolutionizing Healthcare

EHR and Cradlepoint

Multi-WAN & SDN Enable the Internet of Things, Electronic Health Records, Telehealth & Security in Healthcare

In celebration of National Health IT Week, we’re looking at some of the ways multi-WAN connectivity and software-defined networking can have a major impact in the world of healthcare. Whether it’s electronic health records, the Internet of Things, telehealth, or security, new technologies are allowing patients, providers, and institutions to improve quality of care in exciting and innovative ways.

Electronic Health Records (EHR)

In contrast to the old-fashioned paper records that a doctor kept in his or her office, electronic health records (EHRs) can be used to personalize care regardless of where a patient is receiving treatment. Mobility solutions allow providers to have a secure method of connecting a mobile healthcare worker back to a patient’s EHR during a home visit, a mobile clinic appointment, or even an emergency ambulance transport.

Back at the office, clinic, or hospital, providers need to know they can depend on uninterrupted access to EHRs through a fast, stable wireless connection such as 4G LTE. Ensuring that a healthcare provider can connect — and remain connected — to a patient’s EHR during a consultation or treatment is critical not only for ensuring the health of the patient but also for building trust with the practitioner. Medical professionals need to be know they can rely on being able to update EHRs in real time and, conversely, that the EHRs they access in a time-sensitive situation are the most current records available. Information including treatment plans, potential drug interactions, doctors associated with a particular patient, and previous health history is critical in ensuring that patients receive personalized, accurate care regardless of their location.

The Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT)

As the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) becomes more present in people’s daily lives, the medical benefits of connected devices become increasingly apparent.

  • Pacemakers can update medical teams about a patient’s cardiac health;
  • Connected in-home scales and blood pressure monitors can provide practitioners with basic health tracking, as well as help patients become more fit and improve their quality of life;
  • CPAP machines with built-in connectivity devices can notify a doctor when a patient’s sleep patterns change in a way that requires intervention.

While these devices can store information about a patient’s health, they need connectivity to be able to transmit their data to medical providers. They also may require a reliable external modem to connect consistently and dependably to the Internet or cloud-based software.

Patients with a pacemaker, for example, can simply step near the monitoring station with an attached in-home router each day in order for the pacemaker to transmit information to a cardiologist’s office. Unreliable, inconsistent connectivity interrupts the transmission of this data and hinders practitioners’ ability to apply the most recent data to personalized treatment plans. Routers with 4G LTE connectivity empower patients to automatically give medical professionals real-time, reliable data about health and progress — all without an office visit.

As health care costs rise, being able to provide proactive health management services allows companies — and self-insured companies in particular — to better manage costs and promote a healthier workforce that’s focused on wellness.

These innovative hardware and software solutions, including those that use a company’s pre-existing infrastructure, can’t function without secure connections to cloud-based solutions.

Telehealth

As the Center for Connected Health Policy notes, “Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.” There can be many reasons why patients utilize telehealth options — financial, medical, geographic, or even convenience — yet the connectivity behind Telehealth systems provides the backbone for bringing the best possible care to patients, wherever they are.

At Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, for example, Telehealth allows pediatric specialists to treat children who may be unable to travel to the hospital. When the hospital initially tried consumer-grade connectivity solutions, the staff experienced slow speed, poor video quality, and frequently dropped calls — all of which are simply unworkable in a healthcare environment.

With Cradlepoint’s mobile broadband platform, however, the hospital’s remote patients can now receive the same high-quality care as patients who are able to visit the hospital in person. The hospital is able to seamlessly connect patients, practitioners, devices, and services with each other in a secure, real-time environment. A child whose health is at risk when she is moved from her home can now see and speak with her doctor via video chat; the doctor can update and monitor the child’s real-time electronic health records while receiving information from connected devices about the child’s particular health metrics before, during, and after the appointment. 

Security

As with any field that involves sensitive data, security threats are ever present in the healthcare technology world. Fortunately, security is always at the forefront of healthcare IT, as being able to maintain a highly secured network is critical for patient responsibility, quality of care, and legal compliance. Companies can provide a secure methodology for connecting a patient with a mobile healthcare provider without compromising the instantaneous nature of updating EHRs or videoconferencing on a closed network, for example.

With LTE technologies and cloud-based networking, a traveling healthcare worker can have a fully self-contained and secure package that consists of a laptop, battery, and mobile connectivity device. The patient information the provider collects is protected, as records are updated through the cloud directly into the hospital system using an encrypted, password-protected EHR application and an encrypted link between the laptop and the hospital system. The security breach threat level is drastically reduced in this scenario. If a mobile practitioner’s laptop is ever stolen or lost, no Electronic Health Records are ever stored on the laptop.

Together, reliable 4G LTE connectivity and software-defined networking help ensure healthcare data is secure, accessible, and always up to date.

4G LTE Success Stories in Health IT

Read how health IT teams are using Cradlepoint solutions to keep their mission-critical applications connected and sensitive data protected.