Connectivity Is the New Backbone of Healthcare

Author: Anonym/Monday, October 16, 2023/Categories: Business Internet, Data Services

The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic challenges have accelerated the healthcare ecosystem's need to grow. As we move into the future, healthcare organizations will evaluate new ways to leverage the digital healthcare ecosystem to reduce overall costs and expand the patient experience.  

Ecosystems introduce powerful forces that can redesign and disrupt businesses. Technology innovation in healthcare has enormous potential to deliver a personalized and integrated patient experience, increasing provider productivity, engaging caregivers and improving outcomes and cost savings. 

What Is A Healthcare Ecosystem? 

Ecosystems are established to disrupt industries. They involve relationships between many parties within a unit or industry, such as healthcare. 

All patient touchpoints in care areas should be included. The healthcare ecosystem begins when a person needs help with healthcare issues. Healthcare ecosystems have workers, properties and tools used to conduct their jobs, such as pharmacists, physicians, home care workers, caregivers, surgeons, hospital facilities, paramedics and ambulances. 

What is A Connected Healthcare Ecosystem? 

A connected healthcare ecosystem supplies healthcare workers with access to data and technology they need across the care pathway to do their job effectively and efficiently, ensuring the security and validity of the data. Healthcare connectivity should be built around adequate access to data.  

Therefore, data is the backbone of any healthcare ecosystem, making secure connectivity to that data the essence of such a system. Healthcare workers are time-poor, needing fast, easy and secure access to tools and information that assist them in their work. Delivering state-of-the-art healthcare in line with patients' needs and expectations is the ultimate goal of a connected digital healthcare ecosystem. 

A connected healthcare ecosystem can: 

  • Provide individualized and cohesive care to patients 

  • Improve patient results 

  • Heighten the use of essential resources 

  • Reduce the stress and pressure on vital staff 

  • Transfer patient care out of the hospital and into the community 

  • Reduce costs 

Connected facilities can include: 

  • Hospitals 

  • Care homes 

  • Social care organizations 

  • Patients at home 

  • Patient visitors 

  • General practioner (GP) offices 

  • Pharmacies 

  • Shopping centers 

  • Prisons 

  • Ambulances 

  • Air ambulances 

A Connected Healthcare Ecosystem Example 

A patient who appears to have had a stroke can be used as an example of a connected healthcare ecosystem. 

When a friend's relative appeared to have a stroke, she called services immediately, and the command center asked her to join a video call. The command center dispatched a specialist to the location before paramedics arrived, saving valuable time. Units using wearables helped the physician specialist determine the patient's suffering and define the next steps.  

After symptoms were determined, the paramedics used cellular data or satellite to connect with the hospital where the patient was going to prepare the staff before the patient's arrival. 

As a result, the patient was saved from additional long-term effects, left the hospital earlier than expected and reduced costs. 

But healthcare connectivity goes way beyond acute risk. The patient's journey continues at home, where she is provided with a personalized recovery program. They have access to online peer-to-peer support groups, virtual mental health services and access to educational material, all from the comfort of their home. Information regarding progress and a program tailored to their needs are shared. They also have online access to communicate with the local pharmacy connected to the GP. 

If the patient does not have internet access from home, they can visit a nearby shopping center that provides virtual drop-in clinics from a kiosk. They can still conveniently access care but are not required to go to the hospital. From the moment the patient needs care, healthcare is connected at every stage of the care pathway. 

What You Need For an Effectively Connected Digital Healthcare Ecosystem 

Technology innovation in healthcare is at the heart of developing a connected  ecosystem, but enthusiasm for acceptance and success supported with systematic preparation is even more important than that. 

A comprehensive network architecture should include the following: 

  • Secure and dependable wired or wireless access 

  • Cloud technology with minimal delay 

  • Software that improves efficiency in all areas 

  • Data processing and analytics, including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), that supply helpful insight to make better decisions 

  • Care pathway solutions that genuinely ease time-poor clinicians' pain points and inefficiencies 

Challenges 

But there could be some challenges along the way. A connected healthcare ecosystem project begins with a full assessment of the wired network. Analyzing the current network allows you to prepare your plan, change the design, adjust where needed and map out the required phases. It's critical to provide network flexibility and resilience.  

An increase in wireless-connected devices can burden the cellular network. As the demand to add more devices to the network and connectivity grows, the network inevitably slows down. Cellular bi-directional amplifiers (BDAs) are a valuable and inexpensive solution to ensure cell coverage in all areas of the organization. BDA takes existing cell phone signals and redirects and amplifies them to provide a complete working range. 

Virtual Health Care Will Reform the Industry  

Numerous cybernetic healthcare options can help to resolve health issues faster and manage health issues at home.  

  • Lower cost and faster point-of-care (POC) testing with capabilities like molecular POC, connectivity signatures, biosensors and microfluidics 

  • Next-generation wearable devices with excellent sensing, capture and analysis capabilities 

  • EHR (Electronic Health Records) systems 

  • Cloud technology for protecting, storing and accessing patient data 

  • 3D printing — healthcare professionals are currently using 3D technology to create replacement organs and tissues 

Conclusion 

World-class connectivity is needed to meet healthcare demands, as is an in-depth knowledge of clinical processes from solution providers. Upgrades to operating models and technology across layers are essential, as well as a planned program that helps shift healthcare staff behaviors to ensure connectivity is successfully embedded. 

At Consolidated Communications, our professionals know that even the slightest interruption in your organization's systems, IT network or medical equipment can affect care delivery, weaken the patient experience and affect the difference between life and death. Your infrastructure must protect your healthcare organization from interruptions at all times.  

We build healthcare connectivity solutions to keep your connected ecosystem healthy and protect your organization's continuity of life. Our experts maintain a healthy IT infrastructure to support excellence in healthcare and the continued delivery of high-quality care for each patient. Contact us at Consolidated Communications today to get started. 

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