Healthcare connectivity: improving healthcare across the continuum

A robust infrastructure is critical to supporting connectivity from inside the hospital to the home.
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By AT&T
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Doctor doing a telehealth consultation

High-speed digital networks are changing how healthcare is delivered, and how healthcare organizations operate. This digital disruption, which will impact every corner of the healthcare continuum, promises to transform how, when and where care is provided, as well as usher in new experiences for patients. It also promises new revenue opportunities for healthcare organizations.

More than half (52%) of the 180 respondents to HIMSS’ 2018 Technology Innovation in Healthcare survey said connected health/telehealth was where innovation was most needed in healthcare; the same percentage said patient experience was ripe for innovation. All of which suggests that deploying a robust networking solution has never been more critical.

Healthcare centers
The impact of high-speed networks is obvious within traditional healthcare centers, which can now bridge the divide between IT, patient care and business needs. For example, a   can reduce costs, provide higher levels of patient care, improve security and enhance network efficiencies. Networking is likewise essential for connectivity to cloud – a compute model that healthcare organizations have rapidly adopted.

“Connectivity is at the core of healthcare digital transformation. In fact, this change is helping improve and, in some cases, save lives. Empowering digital healthcare by connecting caregivers and patients will help enhance the overall experience,” said Rod Cruz, AT&T’s Healthcare Solutions General Manager.

Connecting first responders
Modernizing the healthcare communications infrastructure should never sacrifice reliability, however. This is particularly true for connected care, or care provided outside of the traditional hospital setting, where some of the most promising new ideas are being tested. As HIMSS and others have found, concerns about the preparedness of technology partners frequently derail or stall technology innovation.

Network providers must step up, and some have. A good example is , the broadband communications network for first responders that operates within the U.S. Department of Commerce. To date, more than 2,500 public safety agencies across the country have joined the network.

“FirstNet offers the first-ever nationwide LTE enhanced packet core built specifically for first responders,” said Maria Lensing, AT&T’s VP of Healthcare Solutions. “This dedicated broadband network will strengthen and modernize public safety’s communication capabilities, enabling them to respond more quickly and effectively when handling day-to-day needs or responding to major emergencies.”

Because FirstNet offers prioritized communication, separate from commercial traffic, it gives first responders priority and preemption. This connected ecosystem allows hospitals and other critical infrastructure to coordinate closely every day, as well as during significant events.

New devices, new analytics
Along with these upgrades to the enterprise side of the healthcare ecosystem, a whole new class of network-connected devices are changing where and when care can be delivered.  Telemedicine continues to proliferate because reducing or eliminating unnecessary trips to the hospital has been shown to lower risks and improve patient outcomes.

Analyzing the massive volume of data flowing from internet-connected medical and consumer-wearable devices presents an enormous opportunity, according to experts, who see it as the key catalyst for innovation. Indeed, when asked what will drive innovation in healthcare, nearly three-quarters (73%) of the HIMSS survey said analytics/data management, followed by AI/machine learning (66%).

“The idea of deploying emerging technologies to transform the patience experience is a priority for many healthcare organizations. Regardless of an organizations digital maturity, modernization is gaining momentum across the healthcare sector,” said Thyge Knuhtsen, AT&T’s Director of Industry Solutions – Healthcare. “Organizations are preparing their IT infrastructure to provide widespread wireless connectivity, which is imperative in the healthcare space.”

For more on unlocking the benefits of strong healthcare connectivity, visit .