While telehealth has been growing in popularity and viability over the last several years, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of this technology and rapidly expanded its usage. From general practitioners to physical therapists to dentists, many healthcare providers have swiftly shifted to minimize the number of patients coming into facilities.
To support these types of services, both during the pandemic and in the future, as telehealth becomes commonplace, healthcare organizations need a strong IT infrastructure, which can include adjusting IT management as well as implementing new telehealth technologies when possible.
Quickly Adapting to Telehealth
Telehealth services require a strong infrastructure of IT assets, including switches, routers and access points to provide enough capacity, speed, security and reliability to deliver a good user experience.
Many healthcare organizations are finding that they need to update their equipment and setup to support digital healthcare practices. However, not every healthcare organization has the resources to make these changes right away, especially as patients need to access telehealth services now rather than waiting several months.
In these cases, healthcare organizations should consider prioritizing the following steps as they work towards a long-term goal of updating their IT infrastructure as a whole:
- Implementing and configuring VPNs to enable doctors to more securely connect to their healthcare organizations’ IT networks.
- Adding video conferencing tools that have built-in security and mobility features. Cisco Webex is a common choice.
- Integrating internal healthcare systems with external systems that can automate data capture for scheduling, billing, filling prescriptions and other functions.
- Leveraging a managed IT service provider to help optimize network traffic, manage user authentication policies, update firmware and software, and monitor your IT on an ongoing basis.
Improving Telehealth in the Long Run
In addition to taking these more immediate steps toward facilitating telehealth, many healthcare organizations also need to migrate from legacy IT infrastructure to newer devices and systems that are built to handle more activity.
Next-generation networking (NGN), which generally combines voice, video, data and other communication methods into a single IP-based infrastructure, is becoming an increasingly popular answer for healthcare organizations. NGN can also support new standards and technologies, such as IoT devices and 5G cellular connections.
For example, healthcare providers are beginning to leverage consumer-focused IoT devices to monitor patients digitally. Some glucose monitors, for instance, can wirelessly transmit this data to doctors.
That means healthcare organizations not only need to procure these types of IoT devices themselves, but they also need to ensure they have the systems in place to collect and analyze the associated data. They need a strong underlying infrastructure that can securely and reliably handle an increasing amount of data.
Simplify IT Infrastructure Management
Healthcare organizations are understandably under immense pressure in this environment, and IT constraints shouldn’t add to your challenges. Working with a managed services provider like Custom Computer Specialist can help healthcare organizations get a better handle on your IT infrastructure to support telehealth functions.
Combined with the right technology, we can help your healthcare organization deliver better digital care. Download our next-generation networking overview deck to learn more about how new technologies can make telehealth more viable going forward.