In Healthcare, Don't Assume the Network

At the recent HIMSS conference for IT professionals in Orlando, technology vendors showcased their latest innovations for improving healthcare and the patient experience. From telehealth applications, to advanced medical imaging, to mobile health tracking, companies touted the capabilities of new solutions to deliver more efficient care and improved patient outcomes.

If there's one sticking point with all of these innovations, it's that they all require robust, secure network connectivity. And where many healthcare facilities are concerned, that connectivity is anything but a given.

Dedicated Internet access and high-capacity, managed Ethernet networks provide the foundation for the next generation of healthcare services. Even at a more basic level, however, this underlying infrastructure is critical for supporting information exchange between physicians' offices, specialist care facilities, and hospital campuses. As the revolution of electronic medical records continues to play out, healthcare providers need to be able to quickly and easily communicate patient data in order to deliver more effective treatment.

In a recent survey by HIMSS Analytics, 47 percent of healthcare provider respondents said they consider the ability to exchange information with outside organizations to be a strategic priority. However, 21 percent also said they aren't able to support those communications with their existing telecom services.

While many providers are still upgrading their telecommunications infrastructure to enable improved healthcare, the good news is that there are now more options than ever for ensuring a high-performance data network. Cable companies –beyond traditional telecom service providers – deliver the network capability and reach to securely get healthcare facilities well connected. Not only can cable companies support existing needs, but they also have the scale to support new services and demands as they emerge.

In the US, cable is the primary source of high-speed broadband connections between 25 megabits per second and one gigabit per second. In 2013, cable companies offered some of the fastest Internet speeds for business customers according to PCMag. And cable networks are among the most reliable available, as Cablevision proved when its Lightpath network stayed up during Hurricane Sandy, even when local power cut out.

Continued innovations in technology will contribute to improved medical treatment and an enhanced patient experience. However, none of these advances will be possible – or sustainable – without network connectivity that is unconditionally robust, reliable, and secure. Network connectivity is at the heart of new healthcare services, and it is the foundation for improving the quality of care.

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