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SD-WAN Powers Healthcare's Value-Based Care Transformation


Why SD-WAN? It isn't just for retail or quick service restaurants. As healthcare organizations move to value-based care, SD-WAN is driving better connections for better health outcomes.

As the slow, but certain, shift in American healthcare is increasingly directed towards value-based care, the structure of healthcare organizations is changing, too. As ideas like population health take root in the efficient delivery of healthcare, organizations are in a clear expansionary mode. 

Expansions are happening in two ways: 

1.    Health systems are acquiring or partnering with ambulatory facilities across a wide spectrum of specialties.
2.    Ambulatory organizations themselves are bonding together in Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) models.

In both cases, a network of distributed facilities is emerging as the default architecture of the modern healthcare system. Distributed architectures allow for specialization and broader reach, but also require integration. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) integration is the most important integration goal. Most outpatient facilities, however, work on cloud-based EMRs, making integration more challenging. As part of an integrated care network, the accessibility of shared EMRs is critical. Additionally, security gaps at any location in the network can cause wider damage to the entire network. Thus, a uniform security umbrella is a must. Secure cloud access has never been more important.

Most Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) are making digital investments in devices and data. IoT (Internet of Things) is finding one of its first true use cases in healthcare. With the proliferation of connected devices at HDOs, reliability is also of great importance. The need for redundancy to deliver reliability is well understood, but its implementation has often been far from perfect. Inevitably, this has led to outages and unintended consequences.

 SD-WAN directly addresses the challenges of reliability, security and speed. SD-WAN is an intelligent system that seamlessly manages multiple broadband or MPLS paths to the Internet while assuring application performance, link availability and, above all, security – all with no user intervention. Value-based care leaders committed to efficiency, data sharing and network security must give SD-WAN a serious look. 

The only question for value-based care leaders is whether to invest in an SD-WAN solution and run it themselves or subscribe to a service is operated and managed by a trusted partner. 

Some things to consider:

1. Geographic dispersion: The more spread out the locations are, the better it is to get a managed service that gives you a single interface for broadband management, security uniformity and maintenance responsiveness. 

2. Broadband access dispersion: One of the biggest technological challenges in adopting SD-WAN in a distributed network is the variability in internet access speeds. Why? Because most solutions charge by access speed and not volume (yes, that’s problematic but that’s a topic for another post). But the real-world implication is healthcare organizations need to maintain a large, ever-changing database of Internet access speeds for all broadband and MPLS circuits at all locations.  New lines and speeds are provisioned every day and speeds change even during the day. Such solutions are “software-defined” in name only.

3. Technology: Is the technology delivering a reliable, consistent user experience to your staff, so that they can deliver a consistent patient experience? Here it is crucial to differentiate between speed and consistency. Furthermore, in times of network congestion, it is essential that the technology detects and prioritizes what’s most important to ensure consistency in care delivery as more and more elements of care are now cloud- and technology-based. 

With ActiveTechnologies, HughesON Managed SD-WAN delivers a consistent user experience across distributed healthcare organizations. For example, ActiveQoS detects network availability several times a second and prioritizes traffic so critical applications always receive the bandwidth they need. As a suite, ActiveTechnologies ensures brownouts and blackouts are a thing of the past. 

The decision to deploy managed SD-WAN unlocks the full potential of on-site digital investments in devices and data, which rely heavily on the robustness, security and performance quality of your digital infrastructure. The move to value based care is a monumental move in itself, but the right choice for your digital infrastructure can make the transition much easier and allow you to focus on what’s most important to you, your patients and the communities you serve: their health.