Designing for IT Resiliency in Healthcare



In healthcare, there are no days off. There is no downtime. There can be no outages. Every floor of a hospital, every wing, every clinical department needs staff. Lives depend on monitoring vital signs and responding to alarms. As we continue the steady move towards a digital world where in-room devices provide real-time information regarding the health of a patient, the network, too, must deliver 100% uptime.

Yet, providing network services to applications and devices for use by clinicians isn't just an act of wiring switches and access points together, a tremendous amount of planning must go into designing a network that will be resilient, ever ready to respond when doctors and nurses need it most.

Redundancy is not Enough

There was once a time when having a backup was sufficient. Organizations could get away with having a Plan B in the form of redundant network and call it a day, but as the network expands and care is distributed closer to the patient's home, the number of ways small outages in various areas of the network could create ripple effects that hinder care demand that healthcare organizations deliver more.

Colin Summers, Director of Network Services, OSF HealthCare talked about how the need for critical uptime required greater resiliency planning in a recent webinar. Hear how resiliency efforts on the network enabled automation capabilities that improved operational efficiency during medical emergencies.


100% is not Enough

It's been said that giving 110% is evidence of trying your very best, and in many situations, the expectations of clinicians on IT staff in the service  of patient care can be that severe. As the network stretches farther to the edge, as more applications and devices connect to it, as situations get more and more urgent, simply saying that the network is up 100% of the time falls well short of the need.

Rob Hale, Senior Manager of Technical Engineering, Novant Health provides context below on how, in the midst of the pandemic, his team of technicians and engineers dug deep and delivered beyond what was originally thought possible.


Resiliency Takes a Village

An African proverb says,  "It takes a village to raise a child."  Similarly, it takes a village to provide resiliency for a healthcare organization. For most organizations, that means bringing in a cross-functional team and establishing robust change management policies. This means getting representation from not only technical staff but also from the clinical side of the organization, as well. As networks and the technologies that run on them get more complex, unforeseen issues will inevitably arise during changes despite best efforts of rigorous testing. Having greater awareness of the project, clearer understanding of the risks of what might go wrong and better contingency planning will aid in promoting resiliency in healthcare settings.

Doug McDonald, Director of Technology, Office of the CTO, Extreme Networks talks about his experience keeping a healthcare system operational 24x7x365.


Designing for Resiliency

When it comes to designing for resiliency, it's clear that focusing on redundancy isn't enough. The network is more than just the physical hardware that's connected together. It's the devices and applications that are connected to it. It's the clinicians and support staff who depend on it. It's the connective tissue that stitches the  entire organization together.

Learn more about how large healthcare organizations are leveraging the network to improve patient care and employee safety in this webinar replay, “Network Health Check: Diagnosing the Keys to IT Security, Efficiency and Simplicity for Healthcare.”

Learn more about Extreme Networks for Healthcare here: Extreme Healthcare

About the Author
Extreme Networks
Extreme Marketing Team

Our global marketing team is made up of knowledgeable, passionate, and creative individuals. They promote the advances – and the momentum – of the world’s most exciting networking company through best-in-class events and communications.

Full Bio